Upcoming rains won’t allay fire risk | TheUnion.com

Upcoming rains won’t allay fire risk

Forecasters are predicting an unseasonable deluge at the beginning of the week that is expected to provide a temporary respite from an abnormally dry spring and early summer.

Three days of rainstorms are expected to begin Sunday, peak Monday and taper off Tuesday, said Johnnie Powell, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento.

“We usually don’t get this amount this time of year,” Powell said, noting that a total of 1 inch of rain is expected for both the valley and the Sierra Nevada foothills.

“(I)t might be the most rain we’ll get on a single day in June in the valley locations,” Powell said.

The rain will come via a weather system originating from the Gulf of Alaska that is sucking in subtropical moisture, Powell said. Winds are expected to be near 10 and 20 miles per hour during the rains.

The system is also expected to drop temperatures down to the upper 60s and 70s during the day and potentially even the 50s overnight, Powell said.

The cooler temperatures and moisture could be a temporary boon for firefighters.

“That’s the nice thing,” Powell said.

Nevada County hasn’t had much moisture since December 2012 and the first month of the new year. According to the California Department of Water Resources, 36 of this year’s total 42.4 inches of precipitation had already fallen before March and the current total is at least 5 inches below the 80-year average.

“It should help wet the hills and help the firefighters up in the foothills,” Powell said. “But it won’t take too long for it to get dry again.”

Powell said forecasters are predicting Wednesday will see temperatures return to the mid-80s and get up near the 90s by Thursday.

“It’s been so long since we had any significant precipitation that an inch of rain is not going to make much of a difference,” said Lynne Tolmachoff, a spokesperson for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Nevada County’s various firefighting agencies had responded to 19 vegetation fires as of the beginning of June, according to Grass Valley Fire Battalion Chief Mark Buttron.

Tolmachoff asked residents not take the upcoming rain as an excuse to shoot off dangerous fireworks over the upcoming Fourth of July holiday.

“Everyone still needs to be cautious that this rain will not have a great effect on fire danger,” Tolmachoff said.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.

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