Super Bowl Sunday is going to be hot – and not just because of the game between the Rams and the Bengals.
The hot, dry conditions that helped spark a pair of fires in Southern California on Thursday will continue through the weekend before giving way to a dramatic cooling, National Weather Service officials said.
Temperatures are expected to hover in the 80s in scorched areas of Los Angeles and Orange counties, with some gusty winds from Santa Ana.
“Probably not record high temperatures, but definitely well above normal temperatures” for this time of year, said John Dumas, meteorologist at the Weather Service’s Oxnard Station.
Neither fire is an active threat, according to firefighters. But their arrival at the height of winter was not forgotten.
“We no longer have a fire season. We have a fire year,” Orange County Fire Chief Brian Fennessy said Thursday. “It’s supposed to be the middle of winter, and we’re expecting 80 to 90 degrees. Even though the hillsides are green, low humidity and wind are enough to cause fires.
The Sycamore Fire started around 3 p.m. Thursday near Whittier and destroyed two homes and injured one person before it was fully contained, said Isaac Rivera, spokesman for the County Fire Department. Los Angeles.
On Friday, a man was arrested on suspicion of arson in connection with the blaze that charred seven acres, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
In Laguna Beach, the Emerald Fire erupted around 4 a.m. Thursday and stopped at 145 acres, authorities said. On Friday, it was 20% contained.
Crews worked inside the fire throughout the night, extinguishing hot spots. On Friday, the focus was on creating containment lines around the perimeter, said Capt. Paul Holaday, spokesman for the Orange County Fire Authority.
“We are confident that the forward spread of the fire is over,” Holaday said.
Staff are expected to continue to fight the fire throughout the weekend. About 220 firefighters are assigned to the blaze.
More wind is expected over the weekend, but it will be weaker than the strong gusts that fanned the flames.
While this is good news for firefighters, it still carries some risk.
“The winds don’t seem to be super strong, but they will come from the east, which will bring drier air to the [Emerald] fire zone,” said Samantha Connolly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s San Diego station.
Connolly said the strongest winds would arrive Friday evening and last through Saturday morning, peaking at around 15 to 20 mph near the scorched area.
Despite the worrisome fire risk brought on by high heat and low humidity, Dumas said the likelihood of the fire spreading quickly is low.
He said firefighters have indicated that the fuel beds are still moist enough to prevent explosive growth that can occur when a fire breaks out and vegetation has dried out.
Frequent warm Santa Ana winds combined with a high pressure system over the region contributed to summer conditions, Dumas said.
“We just had an event in Santa Ana after the event in Santa Ana,” he said. When the wind moves from the east, through the canyon passes, “it gets warmer and it warms us.”
But a big change is in store for Southland from Monday.
A relatively strong low pressure system will move down the coast into Southern California bringing noticeably cooler temperatures and even the possibility of rain.
Temperatures could drop into the 60s, with a chance of rain on Tuesday.
While that’s good news for the region – which hasn’t seen much rainfall after a series of powerful storms in December – weather officials said any rain that does arrive will be light. February is traditionally the wettest month of the year, but so far there have been few.
Dumas said there was about a 30 percent chance of about a tenth of an inch of rain in the Los Angeles County area.
Los Angeles Times