Ludicrous Fire Weather predicted in Southern California through Saturday

Above: the Red Flag Warning forecast through Friday for Alpine, California, east of San Diego.

(Originally published at 5:36 p.m. PST December 6, 2017)

In wildland fire we sometimes talk about “extreme fire weather”… strong winds with low relative humidity. But, the conditions in the forecast for Southern California Wednesday night through Saturday require a new description — Super Extreme, or Very Extreme, or, borrowing a term from Tesla vehicles, “Ludicrous” Weather?

Red Flag Warnings are posted through Saturday, with some of the strongest winds predicted for San Diego County which Wednesday night and Thursday could experience northeast winds of 25 to 35 mph, with gusts to 60 and isolated gusts to 90 mph. Oh, and relative humidity even at night will be in the low teens or single digits.

Wednesday night Ventura and Los Angeles County residents should expect northeast winds of 30 to 50 mph with gusts of 65 to 80 mph. Thursday through Saturday the winds will decrease slightly, 20 to 35 with gusts of 45 to 60 mph.

This is a very serious situation developing in Southern California — years of drought and several days of dry Santa Ana winds followed by Ludicrous Weather with winds gusting throughout the area at 80 to 90 mph. This of course could have a major effect on the existing fires. All it takes is one very small ember to be blown into receptive fuels and … well, perish the thought.

And there’s no doubt that new fires will break out. Wildland firefighting resources are stretched thin covering the 80,000 acres already on fire. It will be difficult to find hundreds or thousands of additional firefighters and large numbers of hand crews and engines if the worst case scenario develops. And the stronger the winds are, the less effective aerial resources can be. Those conditions can make it unsafe to fly low and slow over rough terrain, as they have to do, and the wind can blow the retardant or water far off target.

Ludicrous Fire Weather begins tonight!