Extremely hot and dry conditions expected for the weekend have prompted local fire officials to declare a Red Flag Warning for Santa Barbara County.
The warning will take effect at 8 a.m. Saturday, and continue through noon on Sunday, said Capt. Gary Pitney of the Santa Barbara City Fire Department.
“Temperatures are predicted to be 10-20 degrees above normal, with relative humidity in the 10- to 15-percent range,” Pitney said. “Weak sundowner winds combined with the hot and dry conditions bring the potential for critical fire weather conditions across southern Santa Barbara County.”
While the warning is in effect, the public is asked to discontinue all operations that increase the chance of a fire starting, including the use of chain saws, weed whips, tractor mowers, open barbeques, and welding, Pitney said.
Hourly weather readings will be taken by city fire crews, with additional personnel hired to staff a support vehicle to patrol the high-fire-hazard areas, Pitney said.
The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden will close at 3 p.m. Saturday as a result of the Red Flag Warning, said Gina Benesh, director of development & communications for the garden. The garden is expected to reopen at 10 a.m. Sunday.
“The garden is closing to general visitation in order to reduce traffic in the canyon, Benesh said.
The forecast for Saturday and Sunday calls for highs in the 90s near the coast, with triple-digit readings likely at inland locations, according to the National Weather Service.
Wind gusts to 20 mph are possible on Saturday.
Cooler temperatures are expected Monday into next week, with highs in the 70s. Clear skies are predicted for the July 4 holiday.