Ongoing dry and windy conditions across California have hampered containment and suppression efforts of already burning fires and have allowed for rapid growth of newly ignited fires. The Kincade Fire in Sonoma County grew significantly over the weekend due to increased winds, forcing large-scale evacuations. The newly ignited Getty Fire in Los Angeles has forced evacuation orders for an estimated 10,000 structures as the fire is quickly growing.
The Kincade Fire, which ignited north of Santa Rosa on Thursday, has spread to 54,000 acres and has destroyed 94 structures. As of Monday, the fire is only 5% contained, despite over 3500 fire personal currently on scene. The wind-driven fire has spread rapidly in the last 12-24 hours, moving south toward portions of Santa Rosa that were affected by the 2017 Tubbs Fire. Observed wind gusts in excess of 90 mph in the vicinity of the fire have caused erratic and extreme fire behavior. The Kincade Fire is the largest in a series of fires that have broken out during the historic weekend wind event in the Bay Area, causing road closures, power outages and displacing hundreds of thousands of residents.
Approximate location of the Kincade Fire in Sonoma County. Fire Detection in last 6 hours (dark red), last 12 hours (red), last 24 hours (orange), beyond 24 hours (yellow) Source: USFS/MODIS
As of Monday morning, large portions of the Bay Area including the North Bay, East Bay and Santa Cruz Mountains on the Peninsula, are under Red Flag Warnings. Winds in excess of 40-50 mph are expected through the morning on Monday, with a gradual weakening throughout the day. Despite a weakening of offshore winds, relative humidity values are expected to remain critically low. After a brief respite from winds today, models are predicting another significant offshore wind event for the region mid-day Tuesday through Wednesday. Weather forecasters do not expect this event to be as significant in strength or duration as the event that is currently subsiding, however isolated wind gusts of up to 70 mph could be possible, especially in the North Bay.
WRF Model 925mb (near surface) wind gust forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday. Widespread orange shading representing wind gusts in excess of 50 mph Source: NWS/San Francisco Office
In addition to the large and spreading Kincade Fire, several fires have also broken out in Solano and Contra Costa Counties in the East Bay. These include the Sky Fire, Glen Cove Fire, Alhambra Fire and Lafayette Fire. As of Monday, these additional fires had limited damage. Fire growth and new ignitions are possible moving into the mid week in Northern California.
The Getty Fire was discovered overnight near the 405 Freeway on Los Angeles’s west side. Mandatory evacuation orders are in place for an estimated 10,000 structures with media reports indicating some residential structures have already been destroyed. The area affected features several canyons with homes situated at the tops of ridge crests. During the day Monday winds are forecast to increase to 20-30 miles per hour with gusts of 40-45 miles per hour possible with relative humidities dropping to single digits. At 6:15 AM local time the fire was estimated at 400 acres but growing quickly with minimal containment.
The Tick Fire, discovered on October 24 to the east of Santa Clarita, California has reached a size of 4,615 acres with Cal Fire reporting the fire is now 70% contained. An estimated 42 structures have been damaged by the fire and 29 structures destroyed including 24 residences according to the most recent Cal Fire assessment with 10,000 residences remaining threatened by the fire.
Tick Fire perimeter located to the east of Santa Clarita, California. SOURCE: USGS/GeoMAC
Dry and windy conditions are expected to persist through Monday in the Los Angeles region with winds expected to reach gusts of 50 miles per hour in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties and 30 miles per hour in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Counties according to the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service indicates that for Monday nearly 2 million people will be under extremely critical fire weather conditions with a further 8.1 million under critical fire weather conditions. The National Weather Service indicates that another wind event is possible for Wednesday and Thursday this week in southern California with forecast gusts of up to 70 miles per hour possible in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties with relative humidities falling to 3-10 percent.
Fire Weather Outlook today. Pink – Extremely Critical risk; Red – Critical risk; Orange – Elevated risk. Source: NOAA/SPC
This report was compiled with integrated information from the public agencies listed below. Regional conditions can vary depending on local weather conditions. Interested parties can monitor the sites below for updates and developments, and statements from these sites supersede this update.