Cooler temperatures likely, fire danger remains
A week-long stretch that has seen Bay Area temperatures rise steadily into the 90s is likely to give way to several cooler days, a pattern that the National Weather Service says will last into the weekend. July 4 holiday weekend.
Along with this news, a reminder also occurred: now is not the time to stop paying attention to fire safety.
“It will be cooler, so it may seem like there’s not much need to worry about fire conditions,” meteorologist Dalton Behringer said Tuesday. “Don’t let the cooler conditions fool you.”
Indeed, firefighters continued to issue warnings as the annual holiday approached. They cited an example from just a year ago: Temperatures peaked in the mid to high 80s on July 4, 2021, but fireworks sparked a three-alarm warehouse fire and Contra Costa fire protection crews responded to 53 fires.
This year, temperatures for the holidays can’t exceed 81 degrees in the region’s hottest spots, and they’re expected to stay in the 60s closer to the coast. Winds are expected to blow at around 15 mph, according to the weather service.
“If it’s five degrees colder, that’s a little help we want,” Cal Deputy Fire Chief Dwight Good said. “It’s quite dry there. Temperature is only one piece of the big puzzle.
On Tuesday, temperatures were expected to remain warm in the interior East Bay and Santa Clara Valley. Brentwood was expected to be the hottest spot at 97 degrees, while Concord and Livermore were each expected to hit 93.
The cooling had already started near South Bay, where Hollister had forecast a high of 91 on Tuesday, and San Jose was expected to reach 83. The thermometer was expected to hit 80 in San Rafael, 76 in Oakland and 68 in San Fransisco.
On Wednesday, it was expected to fall dramatically. In Concord, which had temperatures well into the 90s last week, the predicted high was 83. San Jose was not expected to exceed 78.
“This is great news because it gives us some breathing room,” said Heather Mozdean, assistant chief of operations for the Oakland Fire Department. “However, with fireworks, there is always a possibility. It can still happen. The fuels are still dry, the spring was dry. The fact that we’re not looking at red flag conditions gives us a sigh of relief, but we know we can’t let our guard down.
The cooling is the result of systems shifting, according to the weather service.
“We have a bit of an approaching trough that will come closer as we approach the weekend,” Behringer said. “The high pressure that caused our high temperatures is starting to move inland.”
The Pacific Northwest low-pressure trough could bring a “touch of drizzle” to some towns along the coast, Behringer said.
Any precipitation would be welcomed by fire crews, who raced from fire to fire during last week’s heat wave. On Tuesday morning, Cal Fire showed two major incidents still active. redwood fire in Marin County had burned 113 acres and was 75% contained Monday night, and the Canyon Fire in Alameda County was 95% contained after burning 71 acres.
On Monday, Contra Costa County crews kept a wildfire near Hercules to five acres. The fire forced lane closures on Interstate 80 and Highway 4 and prompted evacuations of people in the area.
Three days earlier, the crews launched a 121-acre fire off Kirker Pass Roada major bypass that connects central and eastern Contra Costa County.
Firefighters extinguished the Tesla Fire south of Livermore (500 acres) and the Scenic Fire in Port Costa (120 acres) over the weekend.
Writer Junyao Yang contributed to this story. Please check for updates.