The latest of more than a dozen Santa Ana events this fall has firefighters on edge.
San Diego County may not be under a red-flag warning because of the current Santa Ana event, but firefighters and other emergency officials are keeping a watchful eye on the rising winds and declining humidity levels. A wind advisory has been issued and could be extended past the deadlines at 10 p.m. on Tuesday.
As of 9:30 a.m, wind gusts in the East County around Campo, Julian and Portrero registered between 30 mph and 50 mph. Wind speeds in the San Bernadino and Santa Ana mountains have reached the mid 60s. Today's temperatures are also warming up, thanks to the high pressure moving and expanding out over the Great Basin. Highs this afternoon will hit the mid 70s in the warmer valleys. On Wednesday and Thursday, temperatures could reach the low and mid 80s.
The potential for raging wildfires becomes extreme in strong Santa Ana events such as this. Dry winds out of the northeast can turn a spark into a fast-moving fire and transform a small blaze into a major catastrophe in a very short amount of time. Add to that the current drought conditions, and there are all the makings for another tragedy. Officials said the recent rains have helped very little and that there are still tens of thousands of acres of open space that are potential fuel supplies for another fire.
The Santa Ana winds are expected to die down later this afternoon, then possibly pick up again a few hours after sunset. They should be lighter on Wednesday, but potential fire conditions will persist through Thursday because of the warmer-than-normal temperatures and lower-than-normal humidity levels.
There is welcome news looking into the weekend, when a major rainstorm is expected to move south, bringing rain and snow by Sunday night.