A dangerous combination of powerful Santa Ana winds and critically low humidity levels sent San Diego County into high alert for potential wildfires Wednesday.
The National Weather Service issued a High Wind Warning and a Red Flag Warning from 11 p.m. Tuesday to 6 p.m. Thursday due to critical fire weather conditions.
Santa Ana winds during this time could be the strongest of the season, the NWS said, though the most powerful gusts would blow through the Los Angeles area.
An interactive wind map can be found here.
In San Diego, wind gusts reached 50 miles per hour in the foothills early Wednesday. Some isolated gusts over 70 mph were possible at the highest ridgetops and canyons, NBC 7 Meteorologist Sheena Parveen said.
The most powerful winds were expected on Wednesday. At the same time, humidity levels would drop to devestatingly low levels between 5 to 10 percent. The combination had the potential to quickly fuel any wildfire that sparks.
NBC 7 Meteorologist Dagmar Midcap said temperatures won't be the issue with this set up.
"Focus on the powerful 70 to 80 mph wind gusts coupled with single digit relative humidity for the majority of the county. Even the beaches will sink into the low teens," Midcap said.
The NWS also issued a Freeze Warning for San Diego County valleys and desserts from midnight Friday to 10 a.m. TThe NWS warned of temeperatures in some areas dropping as low as the mid 20s.
On Thursday, winds were reported calm in Alpine where gusts reached up to 10 mph.
San Diego County firefighters increased staffing in preperation of the Santa Ana event.
Cal Fire San Diego County Fire Chief Tony Mecham said nearly all 500 of Cal Fire’s firefighters, as well as an additional 150 out-of-state firefighters, will be ready to battle any blazes that arise across the state.
While many of these resources will aid the fight against wildfires in Northern California, Mecham confirmed San Diego County will have more than a dozen extra fire engine and six more water tenders amid the Red Flag Warning.
San Diego County was under a Red Flag Warning last week when two brush fires sparked. The Miller Fire in Valley Center destroyed three outbuildings before it was fully contained over the weekend and the Sawday Fire in Ramona was surrounded by Monday after scorching nearly 100 acres.