Fire Weather Watch declared for Berkeley Hills

A round of dry and gusty offshore winds will raise wildfire risks in the Berkeley Hills and much of Northern California early next week, prompting the National Weather Service to issue a Fire Weather Watch for the area.

Update: A Red Flag warning is also in effect as of Sunday

The watch is set to last from 11 p.m. Sunday through 5 p.m. Tuesday, with the strongest winds starting Monday morning. Forecasts call for dry conditions with sustained winds between 15 and 25 mph and gusts of 30-40 mph throughout the watch area. Some spots could see gusts as high as 50 mph.

The advisory means that any newly sparked fires have the potential for “moderate to rapid growth,” the National Weather Service said, with the greatest danger in the East Bay’s hills and valleys, as well as the North Bay mountains. The watch area also covers much of the Sacramento Valley and western Sierra Nevada.

There is no indication so far that Berkeley residents are at risk of having their power cut during the wind event. PG&E warned Friday afternoon that there is an “elevated” potential for power shutoffs in 18 counties on Monday and Tuesday to reduce the risk of the utility’s equipment sparking new fires. The affected counties include Sonoma, Napa and Solano in the North Bay, but not Alameda County.

The city of Berkeley will be holding an online Fire Season Community Drill from 9-11 a.m. Saturday. The drill is intended to show how the city will alert residents about extreme fire weather and wildfire emergencies. You can register for the drill here.