After posting a large story on my first hand account with various fires in Oregon and California earlier today (mostly typed out last night) I had been hearing on the news that we were in for some “red flag weather” this weekend, so I decided to poke my head at a forecast resource I love to use. Tropicaltidbits.com
This is a low level wind forecast map. You’ll notice the direction shifts and wind speeds pick up pretty dramatically in spots. Winds from the NNE for the most part in far Northern California and down through the North Bay.
The “legs” on the wind map are giving an indication of wind direction (narrow end is direction wind is going). The 90 degree tails on the indicators are for wind speed.
There’s two different size wind speed tails. Full size and half size. It’s an indication of wind speed in knots. Full size tail is 10 knots, half size is 5 knots.
Near Lake Shasta, there’s a good period of time it’s constantly indicating 30 knots. That’s almost 35 MPH. Not as extreme as we’ve seen in the past, at the same time this is a map of the 850 mbar level in the atmosphere (approximately 4800 feet above sea level). It’s the lowest option this map will show me.
Here’s the thing. The topography of the region can mean localized spots can see wind speeds much higher than that. Where it might be a constant 35 MPH from the atmosphere, at ground level over certain ridgetops or through some canyons that can nearly double depending on a variety of factors.
I have not heard of any planned Public Safety Power Shutoffs yet, but there might be areas further North that will get them.
October is historically the most active time for these strong offshore wind events to happen. What is wild to us Californians is to see so many strong events happening earlier and earlier in the year.
Buckle up. It’s not quite October but here comes the fire weather patterns.
EDIT: Adding that PG&E does have a map of forecasted “PSPS” for this weekend, in particular for Sunday: