Weather

Cooling, possible rain seen for Northern California; smoke hits foothills air quality

This NOAA satellite image taken Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, shows a surface trough of low pressure kicking off showers in parts of California and Arizona. Cooler temperatures in Northern California are predicted.
This NOAA satellite image taken Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015, shows a surface trough of low pressure kicking off showers in parts of California and Arizona. Cooler temperatures in Northern California are predicted. AP

Northern California saw a few rain sprinkles early Sunday morning, offering a momentary sign of the coming El Nino winter.

But the touch of precipitation - a remnant of a Pacific hurricane - was not expected to be of much help to firefighters battling two major area blazes, one near Clear Lake in Lake County, the other in Amador and Calaveras counties, fire and weather service officials said.

Conditions in the region will continue to be dry today, although fire haze and a cloud cover have kept temperatures down this weekend.

Air quality ranges from unhealthy for sensitive groups to hazardous in various foothills communities, according to Spare the Air information provided by the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Management District. The Butte fire in Calaveras an Amador counties has sent smoke and haze over a significant part of the region. Air in Auburn and Grass Valley is listed as very unhealthy, while Colfax is experiencing unhealthy conditions.

The Roseville area has air considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. In Sacramento, Davis and the immediate area, air quality is listed as moderate.

National Weather Service officials say fire crews could a get a slight break from the weather in the next two days as temperatures drop and air moisture levels increase. There is a chance of some rain in Northern California by midweek.

“We may actually get some precipitation on some of the fires,” meteorologist Chris Hintz said. “That will be a plus.”

Daytime high temperatures are expected to drop into the high 70s this week in the Sacramento area and in the fire zones.

There is the possibility of thundershowers in the mountains later Sunday, and winds are expected to increase, Hintz said.

Those winds should help clear the smoke out of the Central Valley, he said, but they could help spread fires as well.

The Sacramento-area weather forecast for this week:

Sunday: Isolated sprinkles before noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 86. South wind 5 to 7 mph.

Sunday night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 63. South wind around 10 mph.

Monday: Isolated sprinkles after noon. Partly sunny, with a high near 80. South wind around 10 mph.

Tuesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 78. South wind 7 to 9 mph.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 79.

Thursday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 84.

Friday: Sunny, with a high near 89.

Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 92.

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