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Heat Advisory

Howling winds, persistent dryness to elevate fire danger across California

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
October 09, 2017, 3:34:28 AM EDT

A continued dry spell and strengthening winds will set the stage for an enhanced risk of wildfire ignition across California into the middle of October.

Abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions are occurring across Southern California, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Between zero and 40 percent of normal precipitation has fallen from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and San Diego since June 1.

Little to no rain is expected across the state through at least the second week of October. Low humidity combined with the lack of rainfall into early week will continue to dry out vegetation and add fuel for ongoing or future blazes.

SoCal fire AP

A helicopter drops water over a part of the Oakland Hills in Oakland, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

“As an offshore wind picks up, the fire danger will remain high,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.

“Each day [into this week] will also feature nearly full sunshine, which will further dry out vegetation,” he added.

High temperatures climbed into the 90s F along the Interstate 5 corridor of Southern California on Friday and Saturday.

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A fresh round of chilly air and snow will dive into the Northwest early this week, which will help to knock temperatures back down to seasonable levels across Southern California. Las Vegas and Phoenix will also get a taste of the much cooler air beginning on Monday.

The cooler air will arrive with increasing winds.

Wind gusts of 30 to 40 mph will whip across southern Nevada, including Las Vegas, and Southern California on Monday with locally higher gusts to 50 mph.

Dry/windy CA 10.8 AM

Any increase in the winds will mean that existing fires could spread more quickly, according to Adamson.

Fire crews will need to be vigilant for erratic wildfire behavior and breached containment lines.

One of the largest fires currently burning in California, the Lion Fire, has forced the closure of several hiking trails in the Sequoia National Forest.

So far this year, wildfires have charred over 8 million acres in the United States, the most acreage burned since 2015, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Over 760,000 acres have been burned in California alone, CalFire reported.

On Sept. 28, the U.S. Forest Service announced that wildfire costs for the 2017 wildfire season exceeded $2 billion. The wildfire costs for all of 2016 were $1.6 billion.

To prevent new blazes, people should closely monitor and properly extinguish campfires, never throw a lit cigarette on the ground and avoid parking a vehicle over dry brush.

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