Hurricane Kay could be a gift or a nightmare for California firefighters

As Hurricane Kay makes its way north, some Southern California communities have seen rain that is expected to continue and could help extinguish some of the state’s largest wildfires. It’s a dangerous balance, however, as winds associated with the storm could propel the fires to greater ranges.

Cal Fire has been battling several wildfires across the state this week to combat high temperatures and the threat of power outages. Hurricane Kay could be thrown into the mix next.

That Chronicle of San Francisco reports that Kay could help firefighters. A story published Friday said the rain could help extinguish the Fairview Fire, which has burned more than 27,000 acres in Southern California and is only 5 percent contained. The fire has grown nearly 10,000 acres since Thursday.

A meteorologist said that timeline that heavy rain is expected in Southern California.

Hurricane Kay could help or hurt wildfires
Waves crash against a cliff as rain and winds hit the coast due to Hurricane Kay September 9, 2022 in La Jolla, California. The hurricane could help firefighters fight wildfires with its expected rain, or it could spur the blazes with its strong winds.
Photo by Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images

“There is a likelihood that some of the storms will be quite large,” said Ivory Small, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service (NWS) office in San Diego. “And a lot of rain in a very short time.”

Issac Sanchez, chief of the Cal Fire Battalion news week that any kind of moisture is helpful in firefighting.

“Whether that’s an increase in humidity or outright rain that we’re supposed to be able to deal with [a] Fire today is always a good thing,” he said. “When it rains, fires usually go out,” he said.

However, Hurricane Kay could also bring strong winds, and gusts of up to 55 miles per hour could cause wind damage or, in a worst-case scenario, fuel the fires. Sanchez said lightning and wind could accompany the rain and potentially cause more fires.

“If this wind arrives before the rain — which seems possible — in the midst of very hot and dry conditions, it could actually lead to an outbreak of extreme fire weather just before the rain arrives,” says Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA and The Nature Conservancy. he said timeline.

The NWS posted an update on the storm on its website Friday afternoon, saying that although the storm is expected to weaken as it pushes northwest, heavy rain is expected, threatening flash flooding. NWS said winds will continue in Southern California tonight and will weaken tomorrow as the storm retreats offshore.

The NWS said the storm could cause a temperature swing that could transition from “record” highs to “below average” lows.

“Below-average temperatures are expected in Southern California and the Southwest due to Kay’s cloud and precipitation effects,” the post said.

Further north in the Pacific Northwest, the NWS said temperatures will remain above average. Coupled with dry conditions, the fire risk will remain high throughout the weekend. Hurricane Kay could be a gift or a nightmare for California firefighters

Rick Schindler

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