Santa Ana winds and warmer, drier weather is on the way as San Diego County rides out conditions that could fuel wildfires over the next few days.
The National Weather Service (NWS) issued a Fire Weather Watch for San Diego County at 3 a.m. Thursday, in effect through 3 p.m. Saturday. NBC 7’s weather team says warmer temperatures, dry conditions and Santa Ana winds will begin early Friday.
A moderate Santa Ana event will last through the weekend. It has already prompted a Red Flag Warning and High Wind Advisories for all counties to our north. San Diego can expect dry, warmer conditions today with the winds entering the county from the north and northeast sometime overnight or early tomorrow morning.
These 25 to 50 mph gusts, in conjunction with the escalating temperatures and plummeting humidity levels in the 5 to 15 percent range, all combine to put San Diego in a critical danger for wildfires.
During these conditions, all it takes is one spark from machinery, the heat emanating from a vehicle that pulls into dry brush, a discarded cigarette or a small fire accidentally or intentionally set, and within minutes flames explode into a firestorm.
San Diego witnessed that exact scenario in the October 2003 Cedar Fire, the largest wildfire in state history and again in October 2007, when the Witch Fire charred nearly 200,000 acres in the East County, destroyed more than 1,100 homes and killed two people.