‘Extreme fire behavior’ possible due to dry winds in Riverside County

RIVERSIDE – Warm, dry and windy conditions will combine for the second straight day today to create the potential for an explosive wildfire throughout most of Riverside County, meteorologists said.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for metropolitan and mountain areas — but not the Coachella Valley — until 8 p.m. Wednesday, saying extreme fire behavior was possible in the region.

“Surface high pressure over the Great Basin will generate Santa Ana conditions with areas of strong and gusty easterly winds (today) through Wednesday along and west of the mountains,” the NWS said, adding local wind gusts will exceed 65 miles per hour and high temperatures will exceed 100 degrees at times.

Daytime humidity is expected to be around 5 percent.

The weather service also issued a high wind warning for metropolitan and mountain areas from 6 a.m. today to Wednesday afternoon.

In the Inland Empire, sustained northeast to east winds of 25 to 35 mph and gusts up to 65 mph are expected. Even stronger winds are expected in the mountains — sustained northeast winds of 30 to 40 mph and gusts to 65 mph. Isolated gusts of 75 to 80 mph also possible in the mountains, according to the NWS.

“The winds will make driving difficult, especially for motorists with high profile vehicles,” the NWS said. “Watch for broken tree limbs and other debris on roadways.”

As warm as it is expected to be today, the hottest days will occur later this week, especially in metropolitan areas.

The NWS issued a heat advisory for the Inland Empire from 9 a.m. Wednesday to 6 p.m. Thursday, saying daytime highs will be 15 to 27 degrees above normal on Wednesday.

“Take extra precautions if you work or spend time outside,” the NWS said. “When possible, reschedule strenuous activities to early morning or evening.”

The heat advisory did not extend to the Coachella Valley, which usually tends to be warm anyway.

RIVERSIDE – A high risk of wildfire will threaten most of Riverside County this week as dry, hot and windy conditions develop in the metropolitan areas and local mountains, meteorologists said today.

“High pressure aloft will strengthen along the West Coast through Thursday, bringing much warmer daytime temperatures,” according to the National Weather Service.

“Surface high pressure over the Great Basin will bring periods of strong gusty east to northeast winds through Wednesday … along with low humidities.”

The agency said the most significant combination of hot daytime temperatures, very low humidity and strong gusty Santa Ana winds is expected on Tuesday and Wednesday, though Wednesday’s winds will be weaker and will diminish faster. A red flag warning for the Inland Empire and mountain areas — but not the Coachella Valley — is in effect until 8 p.m. Tuesday. According to the weather service, during that time there will be sustained northeast to east winds of 15 to 25 miles per hour and gusts to 45 mph, mainly along coastal slopes and below passes and canyons. The humidity is expected to be around 5 percent.

A red flag warning is the weather service’s most serious fire-related warning.

“It will continue to be hot and very dry Thursday, but with weakening winds,” the NWS said. Highs around the region today are expected to be mainly in the high 80s to low 90s. By Wednesday, triple-digit temperatures are likely. A cooling trend is expected by the weekend.

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