More Santa Ana winds, wildfire hazards in forecast next week


IRVINE CALIFORNIA – DECEMBER 03: Inmate firefighters work as the Bond Fire burns shortly after sunrise in the Silverado Canyon area of Orange County on December 3, 2020 near Irvine, California. The 4,000-acre wildfire broke out along with a number of other fires in Southern California amid gusty Santa Ana winds in the region. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Though winter is almost here, the dangers of wildfire still loom large over the San Diego area.

This week’s period of dry, gusty Santa Ana conditions has diminished in intensity, but it will continue through the weekend before being replaced by another strong one early next week, the National Weather Service advised Friday.

As a result, local vegetation-combustion hazards “will definitely enhance on Monday and Tuesday” toward the type of worrisome situation that prevailed in the county earlier this week, NWS meteorologist Alex Tardy said.

“So the winds look like they’re going to be developing (into significant) Santa Ana (conditions) pretty rapidly on Monday,” Tardy said.

In response to those forecasts, the weather service has scheduled a fire-weather watch — a step below the more urgent “red flag” warning that was in effect late this week — for Monday and Tuesday.

The arid and blustery conditions may turn out to be less severe than they were this week, but they likely will be more widespread, according to Tardy. And yet another similar atmospheric system is expected to develop in San Diego County toward the end of the workweek, possibly beginning Thursday, he advised.

“So we’re looking at two different events coming up,” he said. “And the outlook supports this Santa Ana wind pattern at various intensities all the way through mid-December.”

Adding to the pronounced wildfire risks is the state of the rain- starved vegetation covering the region’s back country and inland open spaces, the meteorologist noted.

“Fuels are critically dry,” he said. “They’re actually near record dry now, despite all that rain and snow we had (in) early November.”

And with no local precipitation expected at least through the middle of this month, the unavoidable result for the foreseeable future is “high fire danger, especially with wind-driven fires,” Tardy said.

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