SAN DIEGO — Strong Santa Ana winds are expected to continue across San Diego County early this week alongside dry conditions, creating what forecasters say is “critical” potential for wildfires.
Gusty eastern winds are expected to pick up Sunday across all parts of the region and continue blowing at high speeds through Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service. It is the first notable Santa Ana event of the season in the region.
The strongest winds are expected to set in San Diego County’s valley and mountain areas on Monday, including the cities of Escondido, El Cajon, San Marcos, La Mesa, Santee, Poway, Julian and Pine Valley.
A wind advisory issued ahead of the weekend for these areas will remain in effect from 2 a.m. Monday to 5 p.m. Wednesday.
During this time, winds are anticipated to reach 20 to 25 miles per hour with individual gusts of 40 to 50 miles per hour, NWS says. In the windiest passes and canyons, isolated gusts of up to 60 miles per hour are possible early Monday morning.
Along the coast, peak gusts are anticipated to range from five to 30 miles per hour, according to forecasters. A map from NWS showing Monday’s peak wind speeds across Southern California can be found below.
While the wind advisory is in place, NWS encourages those in the impacted areas to use extra caution while driving, as well as secure any outdoor objects to prevent them from flying away.
Meanwhile, humidity will be at some of its lowest levels for most parts of the county on Monday.
NWS is expecting widespread single digit relative humidity, with most parts of the county falling below 15%. In small sections of the coast, humidity is anticipated to range from about 15 to 30%.
The windy conditions paired with this low humidity are anticipated to contribute to elevated wildfire risk.
Farther north, parts of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties were placed under a red flag warning through Monday due to the risk of fire ignition with the strong Santa Anas. Several small brush fires were sparked Sunday afternoon in these areas amid the conditions.
As of 5 p.m., no fire watches or red flag warnings were put in effect for San Diego County, although forecasters are closely monitoring for changes in conditions. However, at least one vegetation fire has been reported in the county near the Lower Otay Lake.
According to NWS, winds will start to weaken midweek, but warm and dry conditions will continue through next weekend.
From Monday through Sunday, high temperatures are expected to hit the upper 70s and lower 80s along the coast and in the inland valley areas. Mountain neighborhoods will be a little cooler, with highs expected in the upper 50s to 60s.