High temperatures, wind, prompt Berkeley red flag alert

Sun-burst-by-Avi
Berkeley is to have heat and high winds in the next couple of days. Photo: Avi

As the weather heats up — the National Weather Service is predicting that the temperature will hit 87 degrees by Thursday – officials have issued a Red Flag Warning for the East Bay Hills for Tuesday and Wednesday.

The wind is expected to pick up speed around 6:00 p.m. today, with heavy gusts of up to 50 mph possible by early Wednesday morning. The strong winds should last until 6 p.m. May 1.

The official fire season in Berkeley hasn’t started yet, but the fire department is taking extra precautions in anticipation of the heat and wind, according to Avery Webb, interim deputy fire chief and public information officer. Firefighters have been asked to check their wildland firefighting gear and put it in their vehicles, he said.

The department is also going to send out a roving fire patrol truck on Wednesday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the time high winds are anticipated. (There is more humidity in the air at night so the truck won’t go out until the sun comes up, said Deputy Chief Webb.) The officer in the truck will drive around to make sure no vehicles are obstructing streets and to respond quickly if there are any reports of a fire, he said.


“We became aware there was a weather alert out for high wind –a wind event, basically,” said Webb. “We haven’t declared fire season yet but we have upscaled our anticipation of what may happen.”

The fact that there has been little rain for the past two winters means that the vegetation in the hills is drier than normal, but it can also mean there is less vegetation than normal, Webb said.

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