palm trees in wind
Palm trees in strong winds. Photo via Pixabay.

Dry conditions and winds will combine to elevate wildfire hazards throughout Riverside County, beginning this weekend, the National Weather Service said Thursday.

“An unseasonably strong upper level high pressure will build over Southern California starting Sunday and persisting through next mid-week,” according to an NWS statement. “In addition, offshore flow generated by surface high pressure over Utah will create Santa Ana winds.”

The winds will turn gusty Saturday, the agency said. A Fire Weather Watch is in effect from Saturday morning to Tuesday afternoon, and an Excessive Heat Watch is in effect for Monday and Tuesday.

“Due to the extreme temperatures and very low humidity, combined with near record dry vegetation, the fire danger is very high,” the NWS stated. “Any wildfire in wind-prone canyons will have extreme growth.”

Temperatures in the Riverside metropolitan area are expected to reach the high 90s Sunday, with highs hovering in the low 100s Monday and Tuesday, according to meteorologists.

The Coachella Valley, similarly, will see daytime highs over 100 degrees.

According to forecasters, northeast winds will generally blow from 15 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 50 in some locations between Saturday and Tuesday.

Temperatures will begin a gradual trend to normal on Wednesday, and the Santa Ana winds should abate by Tuesday evening, according to the NWS.

A Fire Weather Watch is posted when strong winds and extremely low humidity create an environment conducive to “extreme fire behavior.”

An Excessive Heat Watch is posted in anticipation of “long periods of very high temperatures,” raising the prospect of heat-related illnesses during outdoor activity, the NWS said.

The agency recommended people limit strenuous activity during daylight hours and stay hydrated for the duration of the hot, dry spell.

–City News Service

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