Easterly winds combined with a precipitous drop in relative humidity will translate to increased wildfire danger in Riverside County early next week, according to the National Weather Service.

The agency posted a Fire Weather Watch for the Inland Empire, beginning 5 a.m. Monday and continuing until 5 p.m. that day, though meteorologists said the timing could be modified.

Forecasters said strong Santa Ana winds, gusting to 40 mph, will begin late Sunday night as humidity levels plummet to around 10%, creating a potential tinderbox.

“Winds will weaken Monday evening (but) could increase again Tuesday,” the NWS said. “The strength is uncertain at this time.”

The NWS said a ridge of high pressure building over the Great Basin in Nevada and Utah will generate the offshore winds.

Temperatures will correspondingly head back into the triple digits in the Riverside metropolitan area, as well as the San Gorgonio Pass, between Monday and Friday, according to the Weather Service.

“The greatest warming will occur in the valleys, where temperatures will be 10 to 15 degrees above normal for much of the week,” the agency said.

Highs will remain in the low 100s in the Coachella Valley, where there’s been little relief from triple-digit heat since mid-summer.

The high in Riverside Monday is expected to reach 100, while in Palm Springs, the mercury will top out about 105, and in Temecula, about 90 degrees, according to forecasters.

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