California braces for dangerous heat as wildfire battle continues
Triple-digit temperatures could spark new fires just a few weeks after a record heatwave
Fri 25 Sep 2020 19.43 EDTLast modified on Fri 25 Sep 2020 19.45 EDT
California is bracing for another dangerously warm weekend, with dry winds, parched vegetation, and triple-digit temperatures threatening to ignite new fires and complicating containment efforts in an embattled state.
With only a few weeks’ reprieve after a record heatwave in early September, firefighters have made progress in containing the dozens of blazes tearing across the region. But fatigued crews – many of whom have spent weeks fighting on the frontline – are preparing for a potentially rough week ahead.
Red flag warnings have been issued across northern California from Saturday through Monday. “Even if you live on the coast or in the city, you’re going to feel the heat Monday,” Drew Tuma, a local ABC meteorologist, said. “I expect some places to hit 106F, 107F Monday – easily.”
Heat isn’t the only concern. Gusty winds and low humidity are expected to elevate extreme fire dangers into early October, especially as swaths of the state experience “severe drought”, according to analysts with the US Department of Agriculture.
In northern and central areas, the strongest winds were forecast to occur from Saturday night into Sunday morning, followed by another burst Sunday night into Monday. In southern California, meteorologists anticipate very hot and dry weather conditions with weak to locally moderate Santa Ana winds on Monday.
The Pacific Gas & Electric utility warned it may have to shut off power to areas where gusts of wind could damage its equipment or hurl debris into lines that could ignite flammable vegetation. The utility posted a power cut “watch alert” for Saturday evening through Monday morning for about 21,000 customers in portions of northern Butte, Plumas and Yuba counties.