Fire danger grows as high winds hit county

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Strong, gusty winds whipped through valley and
mountain areas of San Diego County Friday, heightening the risk of wildfire.

“Warm and very dry conditions coupled with strong winds will elevate
the fire danger,” according to a National Weather Service statement.

The NWS issued a red flag warning for both the inland valleys and
mountain areas, set to remain in effect until 6 p.m. Saturday. A red flag
warning is issued when high winds combine with low humidity and warmer
temperatures to create a risk of wildfire.

“A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are
either occurring now or will shortly,” according to the NWS. “A combination
of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create
explosive fire growth potential.”

The agency also issued a high wind warning for San Diego County
mountains and valleys, set to remain in effect until 2 p.m. During that time,
there will be east winds of 25 to 35 miles per hour, gusting up to 60 mph, with
the strongest winds near ridge tops and along coastal mountain slopes,
forecasters said.

Gusts of 64 mph were reported at Sill Hill northwest of Cuyamaca
overnight and gusts of 48 mph were recorded on Otay Mountain around 7:15 a.m.

San Diego Gas & Electric recorded gusts of more than 45 mph in Boulevard
and between 35 and 44 mph in several other areas including Descanso, Japatul,
Potrero and on Mount Laguna, which could cause outages.

The utility reported about 50 customers were without power as of 6:40
a.m. in the Dehesa, Alpine and Rancho Palo Verde areas, where gusts are
expected to top 45 mph, although the specific cause remained under
investigation. Electricity is expected to be restored later this morning.

The California Highway Patrol also advised of strong wind on Interstate
8 near West Willows Road in Alpine.

“The winds will make driving difficult, especially for motorists with
high-profile vehicles,” according to an NWS advisory. “Watch for broken tree
limbs and power lines. Areas of blowing dust could locally reduce visibility.”

A wind advisory, which is less severe than a high wind warning, is
scheduled to follow the warning and remain in effect until 1 p.m. Saturday.

Categories: KUSI