Monterey County

Weather experts working with firefighters

Weather experts help firefighters battle Soberanes Fire

MONTEREY COUNTY, Calif. - Temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction are all factors in how a wildfire behaves. In the case of the Soberanes Fire, weather conditions can change from one ridgetop to another.

The microclimates along the Central Coast make for a bad recipe when it comes to wildfires. The National Weather Service in Monterey has been using eight portable weather stations to monitor the weather around the Soberanes Fire.

Recently, the weather has been helping fire crews. There's been a strong marine layer keeping cool moist air near the fire. Because of that, the fire hasn't been growing much, but that's changing.

"Anytime you're dealing with fire, wind is your biggest concern," said Incident Meteorologist Ryan Wahlbrun. "And probably for the first time in a week or so we're expecting some strong winds to show up on the fire lines tonight."

Strong northwest winds along the Big Sur coast are forecasted into Tuesday, and that means trouble.

"Heading into Tuesday morning, I wouldn't be surprised to see the perimeter map show some growth out there just given these weather conditions," said Wahlbrun. 

But Cal Fire is prepared, they're putting more crews on the south end of the fire.

"Instead of staffing so many in the morning, they're staffing more in the evening," said Chad Carroll, Public Information Officer for the Soberanes Fire. "That way they're able to prevent spot fires from any of the embers flying around."

Because the fire is burning so large the weather can be drastically different from one spot in the fire to the next. That's why it's extremely important to have weather stations strategically positioned around the perimeter of the fire to monitor conditions like temperature, humidity, and wind.

And for meteorologists, the be able to forecast what will happen, it's best to understand what is happening

"And having those weather stations up there really helps us validate the ongoing weather and make the future predictions to keep everyone safe and forewarned," said Wahlbrun.

As for Cal Fire, the accurate weather information has allowed them to make accurate decisions to reach full containment.

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