Region braces for high winds, heat
A potentially dangerous mixture of searing temperatures and dry, powerful winds is expected to descend on Northern California this weekend, bringing a heightened risk of fire danger with them.
Pacific Gas & Electric Co. said Wednesday that it may preemptively cut power to some customers in the northern Sierra and the Sacramento Valley region to prevent damaged equipment from sparking fires.
After a stretch of mild conditions, temperatures are expected to climb to the low 100s in some parts of the Bay Area this weekend, with north winds that could gust at up to 60 mph late Saturday or early Sunday.
The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for the North and East Bay hills that begins Saturday at 11 a.m., continuing through Monday at 8 a.m. The fire weather watch is also in effect for interior valleys in the East Bay and for areas along Highway 4 that are susceptible to dry north winds.
National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Walbrun said a combination of dry and offshore winds over the North and East Bay hills, low humidity, and continued hot temperatures make dry regions more susceptible to wildfires.
The Bay Area will experience warmer temperatures this weekend with temperatures in the lower 90s on the coast and in the lower 100s inland, Walbrun said. Fairfield will experience high temperatures throughout the weekend, reaching a high of 101 on Monday. In Walnut Creek, temperatures are expected to reach 100 on Monday, with weekend temperatures in the low 90s.
Strong winds in highelevation areas such as Mount Diablo will peak Saturday night into Sunday morning with gusts reaching 50 to 55 mph. In the East Bay hills, at elevations between 1,000 and 1,500 feet, winds will reach 25 to 35 mph from Saturday into Sunday morning.
Wind direction may change on Saturday and Sunday, and potentially bring smoke from the August and North Complex fires back to the North Bay this weekend, Walbrun said.
Fire weather watches are issued ahead of time when conditions look favorable for wildfires, Walbrun said. He expects the event to upgrade to a redflag warning this weekend.
PG&E unveiled new “Watch and Warning” notifications Tuesday that may provide residents with a warning two days and up to four hours before a potential power shutdown and information about when it will be restored. The alerts come after customers complained that they were not given sufficient time in the past to prepare for these shutoffs.
“Right now is the time to go through your emergency checklist, charge your devices and ask yourself what would you do if a fire started and you needed to evacuate your home in short order,” Walbrun said.
Sweltering temperatures and powerful winds may bring a heightened risk of fire danger this weekend.