As foretold with the weather forecasts and Fire Weather Watch on Monday, the National Weather Service has issued another Red Flag Warning beginning Wednesday morning as high heat and high winds are predicted in the North Bay, East Bay, and the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Can we get through the remaining weeks of fire season without another catastrophe in the Bay Area. That is the hope, but danger is lurking yet again from Diablo winds tearing over hillsides in the next 48 hours or so. Combined with low humidity and hot days, this could once again spell disaster if any sparks hit the dry landscape in the Napa and Sonoma mountains, or anywhere in the East Bay hills. Most of the worst and deadliest wildfires in recent Bay Area memory have occurred in September and October, so it's a time to remain vigilant even if residents in North Bay especially are exhausted with fire panic this year.
The new warning covers not just the higher elevations to the north, east, and south of San Francisco, but the North and East Bay valleys as well. It lasts from 5 a.m. on Wednesday to 11 a.m. on Friday. PG&E has already issued notices to upwards of 50,000 households and businesses in Northern California about public-safety power shutoffs beginning on Wednesday, and as the Chronicle reports, the highest winds are expected Wednesday night into Thursday morning.
If you're wondering whether your power is going off, you can check that here.
Yesterday's #fireWeatherWatch has been upgraded to a #redFlagWarning and now includes the addition of the North Bay Valleys and the East Bay Valleys. Strong offshore winds will be gusty, especially at higher elevations with dry conditions prevalent from Wed. AM thru Fri AM.#CAwx pic.twitter.com/rfvsdvHNUC— NWS Bay Area (@NWSBayArea) October 13, 2020
As climate scientist Daniel Swain explains, the warming and drying trend this week covers the entire west coast, and it will come with sustained but weak offshore wind flow for several days — with the peak gusts in NorCal on Wednesday night. That offshore wind will make for hot days and beach weather in SF, but all kinds of potential terror elsewhere.
Another CA fire weather update: strong warming & drying trend this week. Sustained weak offshore winds expected, with a couple of stronger bursts (esp. Wed night in NorCal). Some record highs possible in parts of NorCal Thurs/Fri. Red Flag conditions likely at times.#CAwx #CAfire pic.twitter.com/qaUVEFRNUW— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) October 12, 2020
The Glass Fire stands at 96-percent containment, as mopping up and final containment measures take place in the northern Napa end of the fire. It broke out on the morning of September 27 and spread to Sonoma County later that day, ultimately burning over 67,000 acres and destroying at least 600 homes.
The Bay Area spent all of late August and early September watching three major, lightning-caused wildfire complexes spanning every Bay Area county besides San Francisco. Two of those, the LNU and SCU Lightning Complexes are now among the five largest wildfires in recorded California history.