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Another red flag warning issued for Sonoma County; strong winds could reinvigorate Kincade fire

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National Weather Service on Monday issued a warning that strong winds and low humidity will return on Tuesday, increasing the risk the Kincade fire could intensify or a separate fire could ignite.

The windy conditions are expected in the North Bay starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday and last until 4 p.m. Wednesday. Winds will range from 20 mph to 30 mph in the mountains and gusts could reach up to 65 mph, according to the weather service’s red flag warning. Calmer weather is forecast in lowlands and coastal areas. Winds are forecast to blow northeast.

The windy weather likely would hinder firefighters working to contain the raging Kincade fire lines in northeast Sonoma County. Firefighters got a reprieve Monday as winds tamed to 10 mph to 20 mph.

Temperatures are expected to climb into the mid-70s in Sonoma County, before sharply dropping overnight on Monday, National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson said. Santa Rosa is expecting freezing or near freezing temperatures and valley locations will see temperatures in the upper 20s, Anderson said.

An earlier red flag warning that began Saturday night expired Monday morning. During the period, Sonoma County recorded the strongest winds since the 2017 Tubbs fire two years ago that devastated the Santa Rosa area.

Monday’s weather stands in stark contrast to conditions Sunday morning, when Sonoma County saw its most powerful wind gusts since the Tubbs fire, Anderson said. As the Kincade fire continued its intrusion into the Mayacamas Mountains, Sunday’s strong winds pushed flames and embers along with it, and cast thick smoke over a portion of the county.

Wind gusts of 103 mph blew over Pine Flat Road in northeastern Sonoma County around 8 a.m. Sunday, 11 mph faster than the highest wind gust speed recorded the night or early hours after the Tubbs fire little more than two years before, Anderson said.

“It won’t be as strong and they won’t last as long, however, we’re still expecting winds over 50 mph for a period of 18 to 20 hours,” Anderson said of the incoming winds.

Wind gusts of 93 mph were recorded further south on Pine Flat Road just before 6 a.m. Sunday and the west side of Mt. St. Helena saw wind speeds of 87 mph at 7:40 a.m.

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

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