Southern California will see an increased fire risk this Thanksgiving weekend as the region is met with gusty Santa Ana winds and low humidity.
Winds will ramp up on Friday in the 20 to 30 miles per hour range with gusts up to 45 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service. Meanwhile, humidity will start its decline and fall rapidly into the single digits on Friday and Saturday afternoon. The combination has the potential to create dangerous fire-fueling conditions, forecasters said.
As a result, the NWS issued a Red Flag Warning for San Diego County's mountains and valleys from 9 p.m. Thursday until 9 a.m. Saturday.
"We're heading into some moderate Santa Ana winds for San Diego County. We have a Red Flag Warning for the inland valleys and the mountains -- this will last through early Saturday morning and then the winds will start to relax," said NBC 7 meteorologist Crystal Egger.
The Santa Ana winds coming from the east will be moderate to strong, mainly affecting San Diego's mountains and valleys.
The NWS also issued a High Wind Warning at around 2 a.m. Friday, detailing northeast winds reaching 30 miles per hour with gusts of up to 55 miles per hour between Riverside and Joshua Tree National Park. The warning lasts until 3 p.m. Friday.
The dangerous conditions led San Diego Gas & Electric to prepare for emergency power shutoffs in those regions.
The NWS and SDG&E urge those who live in fire-prone areas to be prepared for any potential evacuations with a fire bag and an evacuation plan. As soon as possible, clear brush that could spark wildfires away from homes. More tips can be found here.
Mike Lemeux, a Rancho San Diego resident, was not taking the immanent fire weather lightly and was trimming trees that were overgrowing his home Tuesday afternoon.
The trees were "just gonna be a firebomb on top of the house, you know. We decide it'd be a good idea to get rid of them," Lemeux said.
In addition to the weather conditions, Cal Fire San Diego spokesperson Thomas Shoots said there is an increased chance of human-made fires because of Thanksgiving weekend.
"We know around the holidays there’s more potential for sparks just because people are outdoors -- whether they’re having a little campfire in their yard or their deep frying a turkey, whatever the case is, that potential is there," Shoots said.
Temperatures will begin to increase Friday and will be relatively mild for this fire event. But the real concern for firefighters was dry brush and low humidity.
"We really look at the fuel, the grass, the brush how dry is that stuff, where the dew moisture is at," Cal Fire San Diego spokesperson Thomas Shoots said.
"It has that potential again with the fuel still being dry," he added. "the brush and the grass still hasn’t got enough moisture."
Cal Fire is keeping their staffing at peak levels in case of a potential wildfire. Shoots said fixed-wing planes, helicopters, bulldozers and hand crews and fire engines are staffed around the county this holiday weekend.
Fire agencies also have cameras stationed across the country to alert them to any potential wildfires at the first sign of smoke.
Shoots said residents can help, too, by calling 911 as soon as they see smoke or flames; don't reach for social media.
"Please don’t report stuff through social media. That’s what 911 is there for. Our dispatchers will help you get through."