New windstorm to create extreme fire danger over California this weekend

Alex Sosnowski

After a brief lull, a new round of even stronger winds and extreme fire danger will unfold in California this weekend into early next week.

A potent storm pushed south across the northern Rockies and a strong area of high pressure built in across the Pacific coast and Great Basin, winds kicked up, wreaking havoc for firefighters and residents in California already dealing with several large blazes such as the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County and the Tick Fire in Los Angeles County.

Strong winds will also be felt over much of the southwestern United States into the early week.

North-to-northeast winds kicked up late Saturday over Northern California and spread to Southern California on Sunday.

The period with the strongest wind in Northern California is expected to be late Saturday night into Sunday afternoon.

"Northern California will bear the brunt of the strongest wind gusts with this fire weather event, particularly the North Bay mountains around Sonoma and Napa counties north into Lake, Trinity and interior Mendocino and Humboldt counties," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sojda.

"Wind gusts in this region are likely to climb into the 60- to 80-mph range, with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 100 mph," Sojda said. "Elsewhere around the Bay Area, Sacramento Valley and Sierra foothills gusts of 40-60 mph will be common."

Gusty winds are also forecast for Southern California with the highest winds likely into Monday.

"Over Southern California, this will generally be considered another moderate Santa Ana event, with wind gusts in the mountains and through the canyons and passes generally ranging from 35-55 mph with an AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 80 mph," Sojda said.

Tens of thousands are already without power in both the northern and southern regions of the state as utility companies Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, have instituted planned power outages to help reduce the risk of wildfire growth. The power may be shut off for over 2 million people across the state over the weekend.

Some wildfires have started in the past as a result of coming into contact with live power lines that were blown onto the ground.

One difference with this wind event, as compared to the wind event late this past week, will be the temperatures.

With the upcoming windstorm this weekend, a push of colder air will move in from the north. Therefore, temperatures will be some 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit lower, as compared to the oppressive heat that accompanied the last windstorm.

For example, San Fransisco, which climbed to near 90 degrees on Thursday and Friday, will remain in the 70s on Sunday when the next windstorm peaks.

Similarly, Long Beach, California, peaked at 99 F on Thursday and 98 F on Friday, but highs will only be in the lower 70s on Sunday. Los Angeles International Airport, which sits right on the Pacific Coast, soared close to 100 on Thursday, but can also expect a high in the 70s on Sunday.

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