We may be on the cusp of winter but San Diego will see dry, windy fire weather as December begins, according to the National Weather Service (NWS) San Diego.
The warnings mean there is an elevated risk for wildfires because of strong, gusty winds and low humidity in San Diego’s inland valleys, mountains, and coastal mountain slopes.
"When you have winds like this, immediately that window of time starts shrinking quickly because you have so much spread going on because of those winds," Kelly Zombro said, the deputy fire chief of the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.
In NBC 7’s First Alert forecast Monday, Whitney Southwick said Wednesday and Thursday were the days that are most concerning.
"Winds could be gusting over 50 today but getting all the way up to maybe 70 or 80 mph as we get into Thursday. We'll be keeping an eye on that," Southwick said.
The NWS said winds are expected to strengthen late Monday night and Tuesday with the strongest gusts potentially reaching 80 mph. By Wednesday and Thursday, the winds will be at moderate strength, weakening by Friday and into the weekend.
During this fire weather watch period, temperatures are expected to be between 67 and 77 degrees along San Diego’s coast and 72 to 81 degrees in the inland valleys.
Humidity will fall to around 10 percent for inland areas Monday with lower humidity expanding towards the coast on Tuesday.
With these conditions, any fires that develop could spread quickly. Outdoor burning of any kind should be avoided. Simple activities such as mowing your lawn, hitting a rock or welding could spark a devastating brush fire.
Kenny Williams, a Tierrasanta resident, said it's disconcerting to think about fire hazards in the throes of the holiday season.
"When we're looking at this time of year we're thinking about Christmas," Williams said. "When we take a step back and think there could be a fire? That's very concerning."
SDFD officials said although Santa Ana winds are unusual for this time of year, they're not unheard of and firefighters are taking these intense winds and low humidity conditions very seriously.
Both SDFD and Cal Fire are increasing their staff. SDFD officials also said they will increase their engines from five to 15 and include two extra helicopters.
Red Flag warnings may be forthcoming as the conditions unfold.