Hot Temperatures, Santa Ana Winds Moving Into San Diego County
Fire danger is expected to increase on Thursday and Friday as near-record heat and dry Santa Ana winds arrive to San Diego County.
Temperatures on Thursday are expected soar 20 degrees above normal, and by Friday, they'll likely reach 100 degrees in the inland areas and 90 at the coast, according to the National Weather Service (NWS).
NWS issued a red flag warning from midnight tonight until 6 p.m. on Friday for the inland and mountain areas of San Diego County. Winds are expected to gust up to 50 mph, with humidity levels dipping down to single digits.
Firefighters are bracing for a dangerous fire season because rainfall remains approximately 4 inches below normal, and the usual springtime green hills are already brown and dry.
NWS Senior Forecaster Robert Balfour said rainfall is approximately 65 percent of normal and vegetation moisture levels in some inland areas are the driest they’ve been in nearly 100 years.
"Everything’s lining up for an explosive fire growth," Balfour warned. "It’s the fine fuels, the grasses, the pine needles the cut vegetation that’s been laying around for a while."
Hot and dry conditions are expected to increase through spring and summer, according to a National Drought Early Warning Outlook report issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). . Climate forecaster Alex Tardy said San Diego can expect more intense heat waves.
"So what we’re expecting is the combination of the drought and the overall weather pattern with no signal over the Pacific Ocean –- no El Niño or La Niña -- that the impacts from the drought is going to bring a really large area of high pressure that’s basically going to dominate our weather a little bit more than it normally would and that ends up bringing us more heat waves, especially during the peak of summer," said Tardy.
The outlook raises the prospect of more wildfires, stunted crop growth and low river levels.
A low pressure system is expected to move in on Sunday, bringing a chance for light rainfall and cooler temperatures.