Northern California was placed on high alert as Red Flag Warnings fanned out across the region Wednesday, raising fears that a new round of forest fires looms less than two months since the Mendocino Complex became the largest blaze in state history, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for mountainous areas of Napa, Sonoma and Marin counties from 11 p.m. Wednesday to 5 p.m. Thursday. The North Bay mountains, East Bay hills, Diablo Range and Santa Cruz Mountains are expected to experience the worst of the critical fire conditions, officials said.
The National Weather Service issues Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity.
According to CAL FIRE, a Red Flag Warning is issued for weather events which may result in extreme fire behavior that will occur within 24 hours. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when weather conditions could exist in the next 12-72 hours. A Red Flag Warning is the highest alert. During these times extreme caution is urged by all residents because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire. A Fire Weather Watch is one level below a warning, but fire danger is still high.
The type of weather patterns that can cause a watch or warning include low relative humidity, strong winds, dry fuels, the possibility of dry lightning strikes, or any combination of the above.
During heightened fire danger, CAL FIRE will place additional firefighters on duty, staff more fire engines and keep more equipment on 24 hours a day to be able to respond to any new fires. CAL FIRE urges Californians to be extremely cautious, especially during periods of high fire danger. It’s important all residents and visitors take steps to prevent wildfires. One less spark could mean one less wildfire.