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Yeah, the calendar says April, but looks a lot like June around here. It’s not rocket science to look at the surrounding vegetation to understand that we haven’t had much rainfall this calendar year. Thus, north winds coupled with low humidity and high temperatures has prompted the National Weather Service to raise a red flag warning for the North Bay hills starting 6pm Tuesday lasting through 6pm Wednesday. Here is the link to that warning.

I covered a small control burn that got out of hand on Saturday in the hills above Sonoma it’s not unheard for that scenario to happen, but with the wind and low RH things could get dicey.  Time to be a careful.

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11:30am update, Tuesday April 30, 2013.  Red Flag Warnings are still a go for the hills above 1,000 feet in the North and East Bay mountains starting this evening at 6pm.  The winds, already gusting at the Hawkeye RAWS  (Remote Automated Weather Station) to 21 mph are fluctuating out of the northeast.  The station is located on Geysers Mountain above the Alexander Valley in northern Sonoma County.

The series of RAWS stations mounted up and down California paint a visible weather picture of invisible forces, the wind and humidity.  On Atlas peak in Napa County the humidity has dropped to 20% this morning and the winds are straight out of the north gusting to 26 mph.

At the Knoxville RAWS near Lake Berryessa the winds are gusting to 49mph from the north east  this morning with a 10% RH reading.

National Weather Service meteorologist Steve Anderson out of Monterey says the fire weather conditions are a “Few weeks ahead of schedule.”  The 50mph winds forecast for the mountains will only be “10-20mph in the lower elevations this afternoon, but will increase and be gusty from the north 20-30mph Wednesday morning”,  said Anderson.

City of Santa Rosa Fire battalion chief Mike Jones says that the “The grasses are curing faster because the winds draw moisture out of the fuels quicker,”  referring to the spring winds this year and the lack of rain.  Jones says that the department has switched over from their winter vegetation response to their summer response which includes a full dispatch to vegetation fire calls.

The Boggs Mountain CalFire helicopter drops on a control burn that skipped containment breaks on Gehricke Road above Sonoma, Saturday April 27, 2013. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2013

 

-Kent Porter

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