Firefighters in Santa Barbara County are keeping an eye on conditions that could present high fire hazards starting Thursday, as high winds blow through the area, which is already dry and could create hazardous conditions.
A fire weather watch is in effect for Santa Barbara Barbara County from Friday evening until Sunday evening, according to the National Weather Service.
Forecasters say that Santa Ana winds are expected to move through Southern California starting Thursday night, and peak winds could occur on Friday and Saturday mornings.
Offshore winds and very low relatively humidity play into conditions that could contribute to wildfires.
On the Central Coast, Santa Barbara County front country and mountains may see the strongest winds on Friday night, with weaker winds on Saturday night.
Chaotic winds will develop each afternoon as offshore winds transition to onshore, and single-digit relative humidity is expected over the area by Saturday morning.
Gusts could reach up to 35 mph.
A red flag warning may develop as a result of the predicted weather, said Capt. David Sadecki of the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.
"The combination of very low relative humidity and gusty offshore winds will bring a significant threat of critical fire weather to the area," he said, adding that extremely dry fuel conditions already in place would allow for rapid fire growth potential this weekend. "During this time, the Santa Barbara County Fire Department will evaluate the need for increased staffing levels."