Hot, dry weather, strong winds prompt fire weather watch in North Bay

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A combination of hot, dry weather and strong winds expected early next week has prompted the National Weather Service to issue a fire weather watch for high-elevation areas in the North Bay beginning Monday night and lasting through Wednesday morning.

The hottest weather is expected Tuesday, when temperatures are expected to soar to 100 and 101 degrees in Santa Rosa and Cloverdale, respectively, the weather service said Saturday, when the watch was issued.

Winds will vary between 10 and 25 mph, though they’ll likely be stronger at higher elevations, National Weather Service meteorologist Will Pi said. Gusts in those areas, generally above 1,000 feet, could exceed 40 mph.

The powerful winds would cause a wildfire to move rapidly if one were to start, the weather service said.

“We’re expecting in the North Bay 24 (mph), maybe 25 mph winds in the hills and that results in very low humidities and makes it ripe for fire danger,” Pi said. “Monday into Tuesday you’re going to see quite a bit of warming.”

The fire weather watch will expire at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, when temperatures are expected to reach a high of 96 in Santa Rosa and 99 in Cloverdale, according to the weather service. Winds are expected to die down, too, Pi said.

Temperatures could drop by five to 10 degrees by Thursday, Pi added.

The weather service asks people to properly discard their cigarettes during the fire-prone conditions, as well as keep vehicles off dry grass and avoid activities that involve open flames or sparks. They should evacuate if smoke or fire is headed their way or if local officials issue evacuation orders, the agency said.

“It’s just a watch,” Pi said. “As we get closer we may change that to an advisory or a red flag warning.”

PG&E warned it may need to shut off power to parts of the North Bay because of the hot and windy weather expected early next week, though the potential of that happening is low, the utility said on Friday. On Saturday, the utility raised the risk level of a power shut-off in the Sierra foothills for Monday and Tuesday to the “watch” level, meaning there is a reasonable chance of a power shut-off to reduce the risk of wildfires on those days.

A two-day “elevated” advisory for parts of the North Bay, which means a power shut-off is possible, remains in effect for Monday and Tuesday and was extended into Wednesday in parts of the Mendocino National Forest and other inland areas.

You can reach Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez at 707-521-5203 or nashelly.chavez@pressdemocrat.com.

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