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Bay Area, CAL FIRE bracing for powerful winds, critical fire conditions this weekend

ABC 7 San Francisco logo ABC 7 San Francisco 10/25/2020 Cornell Barnard, Matt Boone
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The Bay Area is bracing for a serious spike in critical fire conditions with some of the most powerful winds of the season heading our way.

ABC7 News Meteorologist Mike Nicco calls it the "strongest offshore event" of the season that will begin to unfold Sunday.

RELATED: PG&E warns of potential outages because of dangerous winds starting Sunday

A Red Flag Warning is now in effect beginning Sunday morning through next Tuesday morning due to expected dry and windy weather conditions.

The Red Flag Warning, issued by the National Weather Service, is in effect across the lower valleys of the Bay Area and elevated terrain, according to the National Weather Service.

"It could rival the Kincade Fire of last year and wine country fire on 2017," said Nicco. "That's how fast the winds are going to be."

VIDEO: Safety tips to remember when returning home after wildfire

The focus is on a 48-hour window from 11 a.m. Sunday until 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The City of Berkeley tweeted Friday night urging residents who live in the hills to evacuate before Sunday due to the high fire-risk.

"The most dangerous winds could cause damage, bringing trees down and power lines down," said Nicco.

Homeowners should prepare for items outside their home to blow over so "make sure you bring everything in, tie it down, and get rid of all the flammable fuel that may be around your house," said Nicco.

WATCH: CAL FIRE, Bay Area braces for powerful winds, critical fire conditions this weekend

RELATED: CAL FIRE responding to brush fire in Napa County, estimated at 25 to 30 acres

Nicco's AccuWeather forecast shows lower elevations could get hit with gusts of up to 50 mph from 4 p.m. Sunday until 10 a.m. Monday.

"Up in the mountains we could have gusts of up to 70 mph and even higher," added Nicco.

"The explosion of fast winds will work their way from north to south, across the Bay Area," said Nicco. "This is a very serious situation unfolding."

CAL FIRE Division Chief Ben Nicholls says his air tankers are ready, standing by at the Santa Rosa air attack base loaded with 1,200 pounds of fire retardant.

These aircraft, along with a new heli-tanker which carries 3,000 gallons of water, are ready for takeoff if a fire breaks out this weekend.

RELATED: Comparing the 10 biggest wildfires in CA history

"This puts us on guard coming into this wind event, we have a lot of land that hasn't burned, all it takes is one ignition source," said Nicholls.

Firefighters from Redding to Santa Cruz are up-staffing.

CAL FIRE is staging some strike teams in high fire areas.

"Know winds drive fires so we will position some teams in high fire areas," said Chief Brian Marshall from California Office of Emergency Services.

Bill Fletchter is worried, he lives in the eastern foothills of Napa County, near Lake Berryessa. His home has survived two fires this season.

"It seems like we're the only area of Napa which hasn't burned. That makes me nervous there's lots of fuels in our neighborhood," said Fletcher.

Natalie Cilurzo is ready for the possibility of a PG&E 'PSPS'.

Her Russian River Brewery in Windsor has a backup generator in case the power is cut.

"For all of us in North Bay area, we'll keep our fingers crossed there's no more fires this year," Cilurzo said.

In Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, the East Bay Regional Parks District said it will be closing 11 popular parks as a precaution, including Tilden, Sibley and Wildcat Canyon.

"Fire danger will be extreme due to expected high winds, low humidity, and dry vegetation. High winds also cause falling trees and branches, which can cause injury," said the notice from EB Parks.

"Right now with COVID, getting outside is important," said Oakland resident Beth Black as she walked her dog through Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve.

"It's hard to live anxious all the time," she said of the continued threat of power shutoffs, fires and COVID-19.

The power shutoffs have forced many Bay Area residents to seek solutions for their own energy stability.

SunRun solar told ABC7 the demand for their solar battery systems has doubled since the PSPS's began in October 2019, intensifying even more recently.

"Really over the last two months," said Anne Hoskins, the Chief Policy Officer for SunRun. "I think customers are all questioning how are they going to have a reliable source of electricity to meet the needs of their families."

Watch the latest AccuWeather forecast and take a look at recent WEATHER stories and videos.

VIDEO: How to prepare for a wildfire evacuation

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