High winds remain a concern | TahoeDailyTribune.com

High winds remain a concern

Patrick McCartney

Chad Lundquist / Nevada Appeal / Tim Pettitt with the National Interagency Fire Center checks his radio connection while installing a Remote Automatic Weather Station high above the Angora fire Wednesday.

Dry, windy weather is forecast to create critical fire conditions in the Lake Tahoe Basin today.

But breezes remained below warning levels Wednesday, buying valuable time for firefighters battling to control the Angora fire.

The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for Wednesday and again for today, but one forecaster said he was happy the expected winds did not arrive on time.

“The winds were not quite as strong as we feared,” said Ray Collins, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. “I don’t mind being wrong when that happens. We’re just lucky.”

A deep low-pressure system off the Pacific Northwest coast, combined with high pressure over the Southwest, is producing a strong pressure gradient that should lead to stiffer breezes by today.

The National Weather Service extended Wednesday’s fire weather warning to 9 p.m., and from 1 to 11 p.m. today. A fire weather watch is also in effect for Friday.

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Collins said the wind scenario is playing out as forecasters expected, with the strongest breezes arriving today and Friday. On Wednesday, the wind reached 40 mph on the ridges above Lake Tahoe, but in the late afternoon was still gusting at a moderate 22 mph at D.L. Bliss State Park near Emerald Bay.

“The winds didn’t mix down from the ridge tops to the ground in the fire area,” Collins said Wednesday afternoon. But the meteorologist noted that the southwesterly winds could reach the lake level at any time during the evening.

High temperatures are forecast to reach the mid-70s today and Friday, with lows in the 40s.

Relative humidity, another crucial factor in the degree of fire risk, is expected to remain fairly low through Friday, with the minimum humidity expected to hit 15 percent to 20 percent by this afternoon. Relative humidity should rise a few percent on Friday.

By the Fourth of July next Wednesday, a slight chance of afternoon thunderstorms is in the forecast.

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