Strong, dry winds to heighten wildfire threat this week

RIVERSIDE – Gusting winds and low humidity will combine to create an elevated threat of wildfires in Riverside County valleys and mountains this week, with the most severe conditions expected Wednesday, forecasters said today.

The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for Wednesday morning and afternoon, but forecasters also noted that conditions conducive for wildfires will likely be present from Tuesday night through Thursday.

”A low-pressure trough over the inter-mountain West … will deepen to the southwest by Wednesday morning as a surface high-pressure (system) moves into the Great Basin,” according to an NWS advisory. ”This will bring very dry conditions and offshore flow with strong and gusty northeast winds for late Tuesday through Thursday.”

Forecasters said the system will bring the potential for sustained winds of 20 to 30 mph, along with gusts ranging from 45 to 55 mph — with the potential for occasional local gusts up to 65 mph. Humidity levels were expected to range between 10 and 15 percent.

The winds are expected to begin increasing late Tuesday then peak on Wednesday, before weakening Thursday. The low humidity level is expected to continue through Friday, according to the NWS.

The fire weather watch, which indicates a forecast that includes critical fire weather conditions, will be in effect Wednesday in Riverside County valleys and mountains and the Coachella Valley.

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