Red Flag Warning issued for mountains, inland valleys: Warning in effect Sunday through Monday

SAN DIEGO - The combination of gusty winds, low humidity and warm weather on Sunday could raise the risk for wildfires in San Diego County's mountains and inland valleys, forecasters said.

The wind and low humidity prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning, which went into effect at 6 p.m. Sunday and will extend to 4 p.m. Monday for inland valleys and mountain areas. That area includes the Palomar and Descanso ranger districts of the Cleveland National Forest.

"A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly," according to the NWS. "A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential."

High temperatures in the valleys could reach 71 degrees Sunday and around 73 degrees Monday. Highs in the mountains could reach 67 degrees Sunday and 63 degrees on Monday.

Forecasters said the strongest winds, with gusts of up to 50 miles per hour, would be likely Sunday night and Monday morning.

Northeast winds of between 15 and 25 mph could be possible with gusts of up to 45 mph. Gusty winds of around 35 mph could continue near the coastal foothills through Tuesday, forecasters reported.

A wind advisory was also issued for the valleys and mountains. It went into effect at 6 p.m. Sunday and will extend until 2 p.m. Monday.

The NWS advised the wind could make driving difficult, especially for those in high-profile vehicles. Motorists should use extra caution and keep an eye out for broken tree limbs and downed power lines.

The winds set to blow into the county will come primarily from the east, so communities like Alpine and Descanso are in the path to feel them before most of the county.

"The fire is definitely a concern for me," said Descanso Junction restaurant manager Jennifer Baker. Baker has grown up in the mountains of San Diego County, so although the weather looked postcard perfect on Sunday afternoon, she has been around destructive fire. 

Baker knows firsthand how the weather can change and turn dangerous very quickly. 

"About two years ago, I actually lost my house to a fire," she said.

Cal Fire Battalion Chief John Kremensky told 10News, "We're expecting this afternoon high pressure to come in and the winds to increase and the relative humidity to drop."

At Cal Fire, the agency is at the same staffing levels as during the summer. Although the winds might not have picked up yet, Kremensky knows if they do, one little spark could lead to disaster. 

"We've been working with our cooperating agencies, all the fire departments throughout the county, SDG&E and so we're closely monitoring the situation," Kremensky said.

Kremensky said the summer staffing levels will only be drawn down when the county gets a good, slow soaking rain.

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