High winds that could sweep across much of the Bay Area on Friday, while troublesome, shouldn’t be a concern as the region nears the end of fire season, according to the National Weather Service.
High-altitude areas such as Alum Rock and Mount Diablo were expected to receive winds as fast as 28 miles per hour Friday afternoon and evening. Gusts as late as 10 p.m. could reach the mid-20s in speed. Although the air is relatively dry, recent rains are expected to protect the Bay Area from any critical fire threats in populated areas.
“One of the things you look at when you look at fire weather issues, you look at wind, you look at temperatures but you also have to look at fuels,” said NWS meteorologist Brooke Bingaman. “Are the grasses, brush, trees dry?
“If this had happened in the middle of summer, we would probably be coordinating with the fire department…but because we’ve had rain for the past two months, these fuels have absorbed enough humidity for not having dried out to critical levels yet.
Once the winds subside, the outlook for the weekend and early next week will be relatively similar to the past few days, Bingaman said: Clear and cool for much of the region, with highs in the years 60.
Bingaman said the fact that the high wind event is not expected to last more than a day means the risk of these fuels drying out is low. NWS personnel will assess brush and trees after the wind event to see if they have dried out enough to have fire problems in the near future.
” Of the [Friday]if a fire were to break out, it probably wouldn’t spread quickly because we still have green grass and there is enough moisture,” she said.
Bingaman added that this does not mean that a fire starting in the peaks of Mount Diablo or elsewhere is impossible, but the likelihood of a fire spreading far enough to be dangerous is extremely low due to the conditions.
Firefighters in Contra Costa County, where Mount Diablo is located, agree with the NWS assessment. They said the fire season ended earlier in the week, marking a relatively quiet time for California standards.