Cool, wet weather to offer brief reprieve from California wildfire activity as week ends

By Faith Eherts, AccuWeather meteorologist
October 20, 2017, 11:39:29 AM EDT

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Following weeks of wildfires rampantly spreading throughout California, the weather may help firefighters get a leg up on the blazes prior to the end of this week.

Cal Fire officials recently stated that they expect the Tubbs Fire to be nearly contained by the end of the week. This is likely due to favorable weather conditions in the forecast for fire-stricken areas in the short term.

Experts warn that a contained fire is not an extinguished fire, and that poor air quality will continue to plague areas downwind of the blazes.

West to northwest winds are projected on Friday and Saturday.

There are also more factors involved in fire containment efforts than one might think.

“Fire containment is not only related to weather, but to manpower and resources, terrain the current fires are in and fuels available within that terrain,” said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark.

“The weather Sunday through Tuesday was very favorable in getting a handle on the current fires,” Clark said.

While a few periods of showers are in store for Northern California through Friday - mainly in coastal areas north of San Francisco - a widespread, fire-quenching rainfall is not expected.

Clark also pointed out that the system bringing drenching rain to the Northwest late this week will do little more than increase the humidity and cool down California.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said these factors play an important role as well.

Static US Weekend

“Rainfall is always helpful, but more so for the humidity increase than for the actual rainfall amounts,” Duffey said.

Into Friday, wind gusts could locally reach 15-30 mph in Northern California as the system passes through.

While these winds could interfere with firefighting and containment efforts, they are low compared to last week’s winds and will be largely offset by the otherwise cool and relatively damp conditions.

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“There is a high chance that hot weather returns to this area of California by Monday and Tuesday, with the potential for some wind as well,” Clark said.

Duffey pointed out that “this will mean increased smoke activity, a renewal of ash fall, and the possibility of new spot fires created by the transport of burning materials.”

It will be important for those in and around affected areas to stay up-to-date on wildfire activity, as well as local watches, warnings and air quality alerts, over the coming weeks.

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