Rain showers won’t dampen fire concerns in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Rain showers won’t dampen fire concerns in Nevada County

Put down the pumpkin spice latte. And put away that stack of sweaters.

While Monday’s flurry of rain showers brought the temperatures down to the mid-50s, the cool wet weather won’t linger for long.

Another brief spate of rain on Wednesday will only last through the night, National Weather Service forecaster Emily Heller said. The thermometer will then rebound, with highs around 80 degrees for Saturday and Sunday.

And that means fire season is far from over.

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“With the minimal amount of rain we’ve received, there won’t be a significant change” in the wildland fire danger, said Nevada County Consolidated Fire Chief Jim Turner.

While the rain does affect fine fuels such as grasses, they will dry out very quickly once the warming trend continues, Turner explained. Only a sustained rain extending over a few days would lessen the fire risk.

“All it takes is a wind event, some warmer temperatures, and we’re back into fire season,” Turner said. “People need to stay vigilant and be very proactive.”

Forecasted thunderstorms, with attendant lightning, do create a heightened concern.

“Larger fuels could take a strike, smolder for a while, then ignite later,” Turner said.

“This is a critical time for wildland fire until late October or November, when we start seeing temperatures go down and a longer duration of rain,” he added. “We’re still in a time of heightened awareness.”

According to Nevada County Sheriff’s Capt. Jeff Pettitt, program manager for the county Office of Emergency Services, his office is maintaining its current state of readiness.

“We don’t want to lower our awareness until Cal Fire or another major fire agency deems we’re out of the fire season,” he said. “We’re staying vigilant, we’re still watching the weather, watching the winds. … Right now, it’s not about heat — we still look at humidity levels and wind gusts.”

Grass Valley saw 0.68 inches of rain by Monday afternoon, with some scattered showers expected into the evening. Another weather system will bring some showers Wednesday with a forecasted high of 64 degrees.

“For now, it looks like the best chance of rain will be Wednesday afternoon into overnight, with more showers and perhaps some thunderstorms as well,” Heller said, adding that under an inch of rain is expected.

“We do have dry weather through the weekend with temperatures back into the upper 80s in the Valley by Saturday, and 80 or so in the foothills,” she said.

Ellis said the forecast models were inconsistent looking farther out than Sunday, but were trending dry and warm.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, email lizk@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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