Noticeably cooler air will bring an abrupt end to the year’s first real heat spell. But, despite cooler weather, North State firefighters will be on high alert over the next three days.
The break in the heat is courtesy of a storm dropping into the Pacific Northwest out of the Gulf of Alaska. But once the storm moves east of the cascades, its cyclonic—or circular— movement will send parched air off the Nevada and eastern Oregon desert our way, creating elevated risk of fire over the next several days.
Brent Wachter is a Redding-based Fire Meteorologist with Predictive Services, a federal multi-agency task force.
“Our main concern is going to be in the lowland areas —generally below 1,500 feet—and that’s going to be primarily the Sacramento Valley and area foothills,” Wachter said.
Currently for areas above 1,500 feet, enough moisture remains in soils and plants to damper any fire from becoming explosive. That, of course will change as we move into summer, especially for the ‘transition zone’ between 3,000-6,000 feet, Wachter said.
“Over the next month, those will be elevations that will start to open up for business in terms of large fire potential,” Wachter said.
Right now though, grass fires in the valley are the concern, as any that do develop have the ability to spread rapidly and dramatically. They will also likely burn out quickly, but grass fires, especially in the valley, can pose a real risk to homes and other infrastructure.
Fire danger will peak Friday afternoon through Saturday night.