Critical Fire Weather Brings First Red Flag Warning of the Year to Northern California

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for portions of Northern California, signaling the advent of “critical fire weather conditions.” This first warning of the year is scheduled from 11 p.m. Tuesday to 8 p.m. Wednesday, covering fire zones that span most of the Sacramento Valley.

The advisory encompasses several counties, including Sacramento, Yuba, Sutter, Butte, Colusa, Glenn, and Tehama. Parts of Shasta, particularly around Redding, are also affected.

The combination of gusty winds, low humidity, and high temperatures creates an environment conducive to rapid wildfire growth in size and intensity. The most significant threat lies in the western Sacramento Valley, particularly along Interstate 5. Wind speeds of 15 to 25 mph are expected, accompanied by gusts reaching 30 to 35 mph.

In the capital region, temperatures are set to peak from the mid-90s to high 90s until Thursday. Haze and smoke may envelop the area early Wednesday, along with winds ranging from 6 to 11 mph.

Clearer conditions are anticipated ahead of the Labor Day weekend, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures ranging from the high 70s to high 80s. However, the Sacramento region’s air quality faces challenges.

Smoke from wildfires in the northwest corner of California and southern Oregon is forecasted to be pushed into the area by winds, leading to polluted air. Spare the Air reports an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 87 for Tuesday and a forecasted AQI of 100 for Wednesday. AQI readings between 51 and 100 are considered “acceptable” but can impact those sensitive to ozone.

Due to the heightened wildfire risk, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has announced the potential for public safety power shutoffs in several Northern California counties. PG&E estimates that around 8,000 homes and businesses may be affected, with shutoffs possibly commencing around 3 a.m. Wednesday. Colusa, Glenn, Lake, Napa, Shasta, Tehama, and Yolo counties are on alert. The largest potential shutoffs are predicted for Shasta and Tehama counties.

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