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    Strong winds, building heat to hinder California firefighting efforts into early this week

    By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
    By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
    October 14, 2017, 11:27:38 PM EDT

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    Fire crews will face difficult weather for battling wildfires in California as dry and windy conditions persist and heat builds into early this week.

    As many as 16 active fires have charred over 214,000 acres in California, according to Cal Fire. Fire crews have been called upon from other states to help battle the blazes.

    The wildfires have taken the lives of at least 40 people and have forced approximately 100,000 people to evacuate, according to the Associated Press. It is estimated that 5,700 homes and other structures have been destroyed.

    Early Saturday morning, additional mandatory evacuation orders were issued for Sonoma Valley and the Santa Rosa area.

    CA overview Oct 14

    “Gusty winds, low humidity, and dry [vegetation] will lead to conducive fire conditions into early this week,” AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Max Vido said.

    Winds will slacken across Northern California into Sunday. However, there can still be localized gusts of 20-40 mph in the mountains and hills that can rapidly spread the ongoing blazes.

    Even as the winds lessen, low humidity and dry vegetation will provide ample fuel for the ongoing fires into early this week. Firefighters and residents will further have to deal with persistent warmth and poor air quality.

    While the winds slacked in Northern California, Santa Ana winds will continue to ramp up across Southern California this weekend with gusts of 35-55 mph expected.

    "The strongest winds in Southern California will be into Sunday and especially in parts of Ventura County, below [I-15's] Cajon Pass and in parts of Orange County," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark said.

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    "While it will be windy in the usual areas of San Diego County, wind speeds will not be as great as farther north," he said.

    However, all residents in the wind-prone areas of Southern California should remain vigilant.

    SoCal wind Oct 14

    Due to the risk of rapid wildfire spread, residents should have all necessary items, such as important documents and medications, in a bag or container near the door that can be taken in a hurry if an evacuation is issued.

    The Santa Ana winds will weaken some by Sunday evening, but gusts of 20-40 mph can still be expected on Sunday night and into Monday morning. A lighter gusty breeze may follow on Monday night and into Tuesday morning.

    Smoke can be carried dozens of miles away from the fire sources, leading to continued poor air quality and posing a serious health risk to those outside.

    “At times, smoke will be thick enough to lead to delays on the highway and at major airports, such as San Francisco,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.

    As of Saturday night, the Oakland Raiders game against the Los Angeles Chargers remains scheduled for 1:25 p.m. PDT on Sunday at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

    There was speculation that the game would be moved to a different venue after air quality concerns due to the nearby smoke caused the team to adjust their practice schedule earlier in the week, according to the NFL.

    CA wildfire Oct 14

    Firefighters stage along a containment line as a wildfire burns Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017, in Sonoma, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

    The winds will mainly be coming in from the north and northeast, which will be a crosswind for portions of Interstate 5. Motorists should keep a firm grip on the steering wheel to avoid being pushed into other lanes.

    The air will warm as the wind blows down the slopes.

    Temperatures will climb right through the weekend with the warmest days being Sunday and Monday, according to Clark.

    Highs will climb into the lower 80s F in San Francisco, upper 80s in Santa Rosa and into the middle 90s in downtown Los Angeles. This is around 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit above mid-October normals.

    Gusty winds will also howl across the deserts from Las Vegas to Yuma, Arizona, this weekend. Blowing dust and sporadic power outages may also result.

    More significant relief from the fire danger is expected to arrive later this week as a storm brings an increase in humidity and drop in temperatures. Wet weather may even douse fire-ravaged portions of Northern California.

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