Red flag warning issued for Valley as dry, windy weather elevates California wildfire risk

·1 min read

It’s the middle of May, months before the wildfire season traditionally begins, and the National Weather Service has issued its second red flag warning of 2022.

The service issued a warning Wednesday for a broad swath of the Central Valley from Redding to Modesto, saying strong winds and dry conditions will significantly increase the risk of wildfire.

The warning takes effect at 11 a.m. Thursday and runs until 8 p.m. Friday.

The first warning of the year came in early April.

Scientists and policymakers say climate change and California’s punishing drought have elevated risks and expanded the wildfire season calendar.

Already 1,734 fires have ignited in California this year, although most of them have been small, according to Cal Fire. Last year, the state lost nearly 2.6 million acres to wildfire, and in 2020 wildfires consumed 4.3 million acres — the most on record.

The weather service said wind gusts starting Thursday will hit up to 45 mph, intensifying the fire risk. The high temperatures Thursday in Sacramento will be 92 degrees, cooling down to a high of 87 on Friday.

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