Seasonable warmth, calm conditions to briefly lessen wildfire threat in California

While the recent period of brutally dry and hot weather across the western United States has exacerbated destructive wildfires, some relief is in sight.

“As high pressure shifts eastward early this week, temperatures will not be as hot as recent days for firefighters battling fires in California,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson.

“While this will make it a little bit easier for firefighters, rain is unlikely, as any thunderstorms are likely to be farther east over the Four Corners and southern Rockies.”

The Whittier Fire garnered attention earlier this month when it prompted evacuations from several areas outside Santa Barbara. Mandatory evacuations and evacuation warnings are still being issued.

On Monday, firefighters noted that an afternoon shift to an onshore wind flow helped to contain the spreading smoke and allowed personnel to contain more of the flames.

The Whittier Fire update from 8 p.m. on July 10 states that “this onshore flow pushed the smoke away from the coast and back over the fire area, resulting in increased shading to the brush and lower fire activity.”

Local air quality in Santa Barbara County is also expected to improve from this past weekend as the smoke is pushed farther inland.

After nearing or surpassing 100 F twice earlier this week, this region will experience temperatures closer to average in the low 90s thanks to this wind shift.

This fire northwest of Santa Barbara over the Santa Ynez Mountains has burned nearly 11,000 acres, and is being maintained at 25 percent containment by over 800 personnel as of late Monday night.

In Northern California, the Wall Fire, burning north of Sacramento, has charred 5,800 acres of land, including 37 structures and over 5,000 more are threatened. Luckily, cooperative weather has allowed firefighters to get the fire 40 percent contained as of Monday night.

Temperatures have recently been running well above average in this area as well, where they neared 110 this past weekend - further endangering the nearly 1,700 fire personnel that have been deployed.

Therefore, the seasonably warm weather and calm, storm-free forecast should continue to aid firefighters in their efforts to save property, lives and land through much of the week.

However, “by the end of the week and the weekend, the upper-level ridge is likely to strengthen again,” said Adamson. “This will  cause temperatures in interior California to rise again, with only the immediate coastal areas staying comfortable.”

With no wet or windy weather in the forecast, increased heat should only minimally heighten the regional fire threat this weekend.