Stronger winds trigger Red Flag alert | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Stronger winds trigger Red Flag alert

Adam Jensen

A drop is made as the Angora fire flares up Tuesday afternoon, threatening to cross Emerald Bay Road near 15th Street. / Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune

Weather forecasters expect windy conditions today will complicate firefighter efforts to extinguish a Lake Tahoe Basin wildfire that has consumed thousands of acres of forest and hundreds of homes.

Today is forecast to be the first of three days of stronger winds.

A deep low-pressure system off the West Coast will significantly increase wind speeds, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag warning for 1 to 9 p.m. today.

“We expect smoke to again be a problem in the morning,” said Gina Beninato, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Reno. “Probably around noon, winds will pick up out of the south to southwest.”

Beninato said 30 mph winds may fan the Angora fire, something that happened Tuesday afternoon, when erratic gusts caused the fire to flare up, forcing the evacuation of residents in the Gardner Mountain area. Winds could gust to 40 mph over ridgetops.

Forecasters expect gusty winds to become more widespread and stronger Thursday and Friday with slowly improving humidities. On Tuesday, the National Weather Service issued a Fire Weather Watch for Thursday afternoon through Thursday evening.

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Wind gusts of 30 to 35 mph are expected to be more widespread on Thursday.

Beninato said low humidity is an additional critical factor besides wind speeds in declaring hazardous fire conditions, since low humidity leads to drier fuels. Relative humidity is forecast to decline to an arid 13 to 23 percent this afternoon, and remain dry again on Thursday.

One factor not expected to make conditions worse is the fairly mild daytime temperatures forecast for the period. Temperatures should rise to the mid-70s by Friday, with overnight lows in the 40s.

— Patrick McCartney of the Sierra Sun contributed to this report.

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