Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Heat to build as wildfire threat continues in California

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
July 12,2017, 11:39:50AM,EDT
 While winds will remain relatively light, temperatures will throttle up over California and much of the western United States this weekend.
Extreme heat eased up a bit during the first part of this week and a light onshore breeze assisted with firefighting efforts in much of California.
"A light offshore flow may develop in some coastal areas of California by this weekend," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.
AP image car fire 7/11
This Saturday, July 8, 2017, photo released by the Santa Barbara County Fire Department shows Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Vehicle burning on Highway 154 east of Cachuma Lake in the Whittier fire east of Cachuma Lake in Santa Barbara County, Calif. (Mike Eliason/Santa Barbara County Fire Department via AP)

"This could push some smoke back toward coastal and populated areas," Sosnowski said.
Large fires tend to make their own wind in the local area. Nearby thunderstorms can also cause fires to behave erratically.
While winds will remain light overall, there is no sign of significant rain as temperatures trend upward this weekend in California. As the marine flow eases, humidity levels are likely to drop.
“Any thunderstorms are likely to be farther to the east, over the Four Corners and southern Rockies,” according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson.
The Whittier Fire garnered attention a few days ago when it prompted evacuations from several areas outside Santa Barbara.

On Monday, firefighters noted that an afternoon shift to an onshore wind flow helped to contain the spreading smoke and allowed personnel to contain more of the flames.
The Whittier Fire update from 8 p.m. on July 10 stated that “this onshore flow pushed the smoke away from the coast and back over the fire area, resulting in increased shading to the brush and lower fire activity.”
This fire northwest of Santa Barbara over the Santa Ynez Mountains has burned over 11,800 acres and is being maintained at 48 percent containment by over 700 personnel as of Wednesday morning.
Compared to Monday, the fire containment has increased from only 20 percent thanks to the favorable winds.
In Northern California, the Wall Fire, burning north of Sacramento, has charred 5,800 acres of land, including 41 structures. Containment of this fire has reached 60 percent.

Typical July heat and a calm, storm-free forecast should continue to aid firefighters in their efforts to save property, lives and land through Friday, prior to an increased threat this weekend.
More than a dozen wildfires were burning and not fully contained in California alone as of Wednesday morning.
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"Even if a light offshore flow is canceled out by a weak sea breeze, air quality will remain poor over large patches of the state indefinitely," Sosnowski said.
"There is also the risk of new fire ignition due to the heat and increasing dryness."
With no signs of drenching rain and seasonable heat, combined with surges of excessive heat likely through the rest of the summer, this will likely be a long and troublesome fire season for California and other parts of the West.

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