Watch for the Winds | TheUnion.com

Watch for the Winds

Virginia Gompertz

Chat with the Chief meeting with Chief Don Wagner of Penn Valley Fire Department was held Tuesday, Nov. 19. One of questions that was discussed was “When will we be out of the High Fire Season?” Even though it’s cooling off this fall, it’s still very dry weather, due to winds and lack of rain. Winds continue to dry out vegetation on top of unusually dry conditions.

“Until we have a really good soaking, we’re still in high fire season,” says Chief Don Wagner of the Penn Valley Fire Department. And, there’s no real substantial rain predicted through the end of the year. Soaking rains mean two to three good wetting rains with more in the forecast.

How do these wind events occur? Here’s a simplified version, as explained by Chief Wagner:

Weather systems have winds associated with them, and they flow in a specific direction. High pressure systems have clockwise circulating winds while low-pressure systems have counterclockwise circulating winds. That is why the day after a low-pressure system moves through, we have north winds.

When a high-pressure system falls in directly behind a low pressure system, we have even stronger north winds with the converging weather systems. The area to our north is higher in elevation, hotter and dryer, so as those winds come down the valley the drop-in elevation creates a compression affect, and they become hotter and dryer and gain speed.

The Sacramento Valley is rather wide and sits between the coastal mountains and the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Predicting the winds is mush easier than predicting where they will hit — the west side of the valley and foothills, the center of the valley or the eastern side foothills (where we are located).

The convergence of these two wind patterns creates the high wind gusts that Washington, Oregon and California experience. In northern California they’re called “North Winds.” In southern California they’re called “Santa Ana Winds.” In the far north they are called “Chinook winds.”

Luckily for us, the high wind gust event did not happen as predicted on Nov. 19 and 20, and the PG&E Power Shutoff did not happen in Nevada City. However, people in Sonoma and Napa did have high wind gusts and these residents experienced PG&E’s Power Safety Power Shutoff.

So, the next time you’re looking at your local weather TV broadcast, notice the highs and lows in our area and look out for possible high wind events that could be coming our way. Also look for if weather system is bringing rain. It will help you be better prepared.

Thank you, Chief Wagner, for another great Chat with the Chief meeting.


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