Red flag warning for Sonoma County, North Bay extended to Tuesday night

The critical fire weather alert was set to expire early Monday.|

A red flag warning covering parts of Sonoma County has been extended until Tuesday night as strong winds and higher temperatures that prevailed over the weekend are now forecast to persist past Monday, the National Weather Service said.

The critical fire weather alert, which covers the North Bay mountains and the East Bay hills and valleys, was set to expire Monday at 6 a.m. The dangerous conditions are now expected through 6 p.m. Tuesday.

“Going into Monday night, we’re looking at those winds to strengthen again and, of course, it’s still going to be very dry,” said Brayden Murdock, a National Weather Service meteorologist.

“So with the strong winds on top of it, we decided to extend the red flag warning until Tuesday and then the pattern starts to change Tuesday,” he said. “That’s why we’re more confident about letting it expire that day.”

Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman, who is often among the the first local officials to detect and respond to wildfires in Sonoma County, said Sunday evening that local crews are ready should anything flare up.

Conditions in the county are not as perilous as they can get the end of summer, after a long arid season. But area woodlands, even those closer to the coast, have been parched by two years of drought, and are dry enough to burn with a strong wind.

“We’re ready, we have people at the station ready for whatever hits us,” he said.

Forecasts call for strong winds to persist out of the north, at sustained speeds of 10 to 25 mph, with gusts of up to 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service. The strongest winds are expected through early Tuesday, west of Interstate 5 in the Central Valley and into the Coast Range.

The minimum daytime humidity is expected in to be in the single digits or teens, with the lowest humidity levels expected Tuesday afternoon. The Weather Service said poor to moderate humidity recovery is expected during the evening.

That means that any fires that develop will spread rapidly, weather officials said. A ban on outdoor burn permits is set to go into effect on Monday. Mowing, sawing and other landscape work that could produce sparks should be limited to the earliest hours of the day and carefully monitored.

Santa Rosa hit 90 on Sunday, slightly cooler than Saturday, when the high reached 92, four degrees off the record set in 1931, according to the weather service.

Daytime highs across much of the region will remain in the 90s on Monday and Tuesday before they come back down Wednesday, Murdock said.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or On Twitter @pressreno.

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