Wind, Cooler Temps and Likely More Smoke Converge on Eastside

Wendilyn Grasseschi
Times Staff Writer

Much cooler weather, much stronger winds and perhaps a slight break for firefighters if the strong winds don't offset the cooler temps and higher humidity, are in the weather cards this week as two strong low pressure systems moves into the Eastern Sierra, according to the National Weather Service's Sept. 14 forecast.

The two systems, however, are not likely to bring much rain to the area, according to the NWS, although the high Sierra range elevations could see some scattered showers (with limited precipitation).

The winds are likely to continue to pick up some smoke from the Rough Fire, which is now at about 138,000 acres, along with possibly smoke from two other large fires on the west side of the Sierra crest, keeping haze and smoke in the forecast at least until mid-week.

Here is a more extended look at the forecast from the NWS Sept. 14 morning forecast discussion:

“Winds today and Tuesday will be similar speeds with gusts of 40-45 mph, and local gusts to 50 mph possible in wind prone areas. Sierra ridge winds will increase to 75 mph by early this evening and continue through Tuesday, with some gusts around 80 mph possible by Tuesday night.

“Showers and thunderstorms remain possible this afternoon and evening with best chances south of S.R. 50 and also north of Susanville-Gerlach to the Oregon border.

“More limited shower activity is possible through Tuesday, then chances increase again by Wednesday afternoon/evening as a stronger trough picks up some Pacific moisture and spreads moisture across the Sierra to the Tahoe Basin, and across northeast California-northwest Nevada. The remainder of the region, including the Reno-Carson vicinity, Mono County and west central Nevada is likely to be mainly shadowed out from this round of precipitation on Wednesday.

“Temperatures will drop significantly for the next few days. For today, highs in lower elevations will generally range from 75-80 degrees north of I-80, and lower-mid 80s from I-80 southward. On Tuesday, temperatures will drop by another 5-10 degrees south of S.R. 50 and 8-15 degrees north of S.R. 50. Wednesday will be the coolest day of the week with highs mainly in the 60s to lower 70s for lower elevations, and mid 50s for Sierra valleys/Tahoe Basin.”

Along with the Rough Fire burning southwest of the Eastern Sierra, the large and still-growing Butte and Valley fires burning in the western Sierra foothills and the Napa Wine Country area could also be sending some smoke into the region, if the wind shifts and brings the smoke from the northwest.

The winds could also increase fire activity, if the cooler weather and higher humidity doesn't cancel out the effects of the stronger winds.