“Listen! The wind is rising and the air is wild with leaves,
We have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!”
~ Humbert Wolfe, 1885-1940 Italian-born British poet
Early Monday morning the chiming and tingling of wind chimes announced the arrival of the Santa Ana winds. By 9 a.m. the temperature read 90 F; eventually it hit 104 degrees. That night it never dropped below 88 F.
An extreme heat warning was in place as weather forecasters had predicted thermometer readings 20 to 25 degrees above the seasonal average. Fire agencies across the southland increased staffing and equipment as warnings dictated. I spoke with Fire Captain Lombard of LA County Fire Station 63.
He shared, “Battalion 4, in which Station 63 belongs, added two engines. One additional firefighter was added to each engine. Each of three patrols included both a firefighter and a captain.”
A Red Flag Warning was issued Monday morning by the National Weather Service for parts of Los Angeles County and scheduled to be in effect through Wednesday as predictions of hot, dry and windy weather in the inland valleys and mountains continued.
“The combination of extreme heat, low humidity and Santa Ana winds will create an increased threat of wildfire ignition and large fire growth,” the NWS gave as its reason.
As mentioned in last week’s column, an extra component is added to this year’s “fire equation.” The heavy rains of 2016-17 increased the growth of grasses and chaparral. Abundant and now dry, they ignite easily. The winds exacerbate the already volatile conditions. The devastating fires in northern California are the unfortunate outcome.
– NWS Terminology –
Red Flag Warning: Critical fire weather conditions [that] are either occurring now or will shortly. Residents use extreme caution.
Fire Weather Watch: One step down from a Red Flag Warning. Fire weather is predicted.
Heat Advisory: 105°F for less than three hours per day or nighttime lows above 80°F for two consecutive days. Health concerns.
High Wind Warning: Sustained winds of 40 mph or higher for an hour or more. Gusts exceeding 58 mph.
A change is here! Onshore winds bring cooler temperatures now and into next week. Better yet, rain is in the future forecast. No trick, but a treat!
“From ghoulies and ghosties … And things that go bump in the night …” – Scottish poem.
Rest assured – on Halloween, the source of such sounds will be excited trick-or-treaters and not the winds!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.