After a fleeting reprieve from fire-stoking weather this week, California is staring at a forecast that will put it at risk, again, for dangerous wildfires.
Forecast models are in strong agreement that a mega-ridge of high pressure — read: hot, dry and windy — will build over the Southwest starting this weekend. The worst of this ridge is still five or six days away, but the phrase “record heat” has already been tossed around.
After one of its worst wildfires on record, the Bay Area will be relieved to see rain in the forecast Thursday. Cool, damp low pressure will sweep over much of the Western United States, Thursday into Friday. Rain in California will be brief and it will be light, but it’s better than scorching wind gusts and choking smoke.
But by Friday, things are warming up again, and that trend continues through next week as high pressure builds (and builds, and builds). The ridge will stretch north into Canada, placing the Southwest, including Southern California, in an area of abnormally hot, dry weather with a chance of Santa Ana winds to boot.
Temperatures are expected to soar 30 degrees above normal in Southern California, with peak heat arriving Tuesday.
“Record heat is forecast for early next week,” the Weather Service wrote for the Los Angeles region, “when offshore flow combines with strong ridging aloft to bring a hot air mass to the area.”
It’s going to be bad fire weather, especially in the foothills around Los Angeles. The air will be dry in Santa Ana winds and the grasses and brush are both dry and prolific, which will provide plenty of fuel. Unfortunately, we only know the weather will be ripe for wildfires — not necessarily where and when they will form.