Red flag warning issued for mountains, deserts

SAN DIEGO -- Dry, windy conditions in San Diego County's mountains and deserts Friday into the holiday weekend are expected to raise the risk of wildfires.

A National Weather Service red flag warning will remain in effect from 11 a.m. Friday until 8 p.m. Saturday.

“A trough of low pressure will move inland through the western states through Monday, bringing drier southwest flow aloft and stronger onshore flow,'' according to the weather service. “This will bring gusty southwest to west winds to the mountains and deserts each afternoon and evening, with humidities in the deserts and desert slopes of the mountains falling to 10 to 15 percent [Friday] afternoon, and 5 to 10 percent Saturday afternoon.''

Dry and windy conditions have Cal Fire officials raising the red flag. All through Friday to Saturday night, crews will be keeping a watchful eye for any fires.

“Multi-year drought conditions, the low relative humidity, the winds that are predicted to be out there…is all that’s driving these red flag conditions," said Cal Fire Captain Kendal Bortisser. "So it has the potential. If a fire were to start, it could be a very dangerous fire. So that’s why we’re real concerned about it."

Winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour and gusts of around 35 to 40 mph are expected each afternoon and evening along mountain ridges and passes, on desert slopes and in the adjacent foothills.

Forecasters said any fires that develop amid the dry, windy conditions would likely spread rapidly. Outdoor burning is not recommended.

“A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will contribute to extreme fire behavior,'' according to the NWS.

“Here in San Diego County we’re fortunate that our fire activity is down, compared to what it was this time last year, but unfortunately statewide fire activity, numbers are up, and acreage is up compared to what it was last year. So perhaps the folks here in San Diego are getting the message, they understand that we live with this threat year round of wildfire, and so they’re being extra cautious but we need them to maintain that. I mean we’re not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination,” said Bortisser.

Afternoon high temperatures are expected to be 82 to 90 degrees in the mountains and 100 to 105 degrees in the deserts.