The searing heat, low humidity and offshore winds set to dominant the Inland Empire this Labor Day weekend prompted the National Weather Service Friday to issue a Red Flag Warning, with highly elevated fire danger throughout the region.
“Areas of east winds of 15 to 25 mph, with gusts to 35 mph (are expected),” the NWS said in its advisory. “The strongest winds locally will be 40 mph on Saturday … near the San Gorgonio Pass in Riverside County.”
Humidity is expected to drop to 10%, conducive to tinder box-dry conditions, as temperatures soar above 110 degrees in the Riverside metropolitan area.
“Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly,” according to the Weather Service.
The San Gorgonio Pass was the point of origin on July 31 for the 34,000-acre “Apple Fire,” which raced into the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest, where it has since been contained.
The Red Flag Warning will be in effect from 10 a.m. Saturday to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The NWS said a ridge of high pressure is enveloping the region, starting Friday. It will not begin to exit to the east until Monday.
High temperatures Friday are forecast to reach 114 degrees in the Coachella Valley, 108 in Banning, 105 in Hemet and Riverside, 104 in Lake Elsinore, 100 in Temecula and 93 in Idyllwild.
The NWS urged residents to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun and check on relatives and neighbors. Also, children, seniors and pets should be never be left unattended in a vehicle, where interiors are able to “reach lethal temperatures in a matter of minutes,” according to the agency.
Highs in the Coachella Valley could reach 122 on Saturday, 121 on Sunday and 123 on Monday, forecasters said. In the Riverside metropolitan area, the mercury will top out at 115 on Saturday, then potentially reach 118 on Sunday.
Riverside County has 35 cooling centers available countywide for anyone needing to escape the blast furnace this weekend. A full list of the locations can be found at: www.capriverside.org/Cool-Centers.