The weather conditions have unfortunately been ideal for wildfires in California over the past few days. Mild temperatures, strong winds and very low humidity have set up shop over California and it doesn’t look like this weather pattern will stop in the short-term.
Wildfire Weather Setup
These Santa Ana winds have been the strongest and longest wind event of the year. High winds out of the northeast have been gusting over 70 mph and there could be even higher wind gusts for Thursday and Friday.
The strongest winds of this #SantaAna wind event will occur today, resulting in an extreme #FireWeather threat and possible damage. Conditions will also be hazardous over the coastal waters due to the strong east winds. #cawx #SoCal pic.twitter.com/yc3RQWeXub
— NWS San Diego (@NWSSanDiego) December 7, 2017
Strong winds feed oxygen to fires and allow them to quickly spread and intensify. It does look like wind speeds will be slowing down by the weekend and that should help firefighters with their containment efforts.
One of the major weather variables that help fuel wildfires is dry air. Dry air helps to increase the flammability of tinder, grass and shrubs which all act as a fuel source for wildfires. Based on the time of year and the latest forecast, the chances for increasing humidity and moisture over California are very low over the next several days. Without moisture it means there will be no rain to help slow down the spreading of these fires.
The wind forecast is the only weather variable that will work in the firefighters favor, but that won’t be until the weekend. Until then it is very likely that these fires could spread or at least maintain their strength over the next few days.
Fire Weather Safety