The relentlessness of 2020 with its anxieties and miseries lumbers on with yet another fire weather forecast that no one wants to hear. This week's Diablo wind events have not proven as intense or widespread as forecast late last week. But a coming wind event that begins Sunday brings the most danger so far, according to one meteorologist.
"This is the fire weather forecast I was hoping wouldn't come to pass, given all that has already transpired in 2020," says climate scientist Daniel Swain on Twitter. "This will likely be strongest & most widespread offshore wind event of season, [and] is reminiscent of extreme events in 2019 & 2017. Hardest-hit areas appear to be west slopes of Sierra Nevada (gusts of 70+mph) & SF Bay Area (widespread gusts 40-50mph; higher in hills)."
This will likely be strongest & most widespread offshore wind event of season, & is reminiscent of extreme events in 2019 & 2017. Hardest-hit areas appear to be west slopes of Sierra Nevada (gusts of 70+mph) & SF Bay Area (widespread gusts 40-50mph; higher in hills). #CAwx pic.twitter.com/Py20eSjVUh— Daniel Swain (@Weather_West) October 22, 2020
Swain explains that this is going to be an especially cold offshore wind event, due to "exceptionally low atmospheric humidity," and "temperatures will drop precipitously (especially in mountains)."
There is a high probability, Swain says, that PG&E will announce more public-safety power shutoffs beginning Sunday night and extending potentially to Tuesday morning.
The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center issued an "extended fire weather risk" warning Thursday afternoon that begins on Saturday and extends through Tuesday. The peak, they say, will be overnight on Sunday.
Elevated fire weather conditions will linger into tomorrow morning across portions of Northern CA before lighter winds move into the region by midday. Critical fire weather conditions return late Saturday night into Monday with the strongest winds peaking overnight Sunday. #CAwx pic.twitter.com/hfsnvZV5j1— NWS Storm Prediction Center (@NWSSPC) October 22, 2020
"These truly extreme upcoming fire weather conditions, combined with record-dry vegetation for time of year, portend a dangerous period ahead," Swain writes.
This is the last thing anyone in the North Bay wants to hear, let alone the East Bay where fires this season have remained relatively un-destructive thus far.
High winds this week seemed to be concentrated just around Mount Diablo and Mount St. Helena, and were less pronounced in Sonoma County and elsewhere, despite a more dire forecast early in the week.
But here's hoping something shifts, or, at the very least, these winds come and go with no new fires.