RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Wildfire risks were elevated Friday because of Santa Ana winds and low humidity, prompting the National Weather Service on Thursday to post a Fire Weather Watch for the Inland Empire amid an autumn heatwave.
The watch will take effect at 3 a.m. Friday and continue until 6 that evening.
It coincides with a heat advisory for the region that started Monday and remains in effect until 5 p.m. Friday.
The NWS said the humidity will drop into the single digits Friday, meaning extremely dry conditions as northeasterly winds blowing between 15 and 25mph, with gusts up to 45, prevail.
"Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly," a Weather Service statement says. "Outdoor burning is not recommended."
Forecasters said the most intense winds will be in passes, including the San Gorgonio Pass between Whitewater and Cherry Valley, where multiple fires have erupted in the current wildfire season.
The wind event is expected to weaken close to sunset Friday.
Meantime, temperatures in the Riverside metropolitan area are predicted to range into the high 90s until Sunday, while in the Coachella Valley, the mercury will top 100 every day for the rest of the week, and in the Temecula Valley, highs will also hover around the century mark until Saturday, according to the Weather Service.
Residents are advised to drink plenty of fluids, stay in an air-conditioned room, stay out of the sun and check up on relatives and neighbors, according to the NWS.
A full list of the cooling center locations can be found at: https://www.capriverside.org/Cool-Centers.
The agency also stresses that children, seniors and pets must never be left in a vehicle parked in hot weather, even with windows open, as interior temperatures can rapidly turn lethal.
Riverside County has 35 cooling centers available countywide with mandatory mask-wearing and social distancing protocols in place.