Our record heat of last week tops off one of the driest winter/spring rain seasons in years. The high winds moved in the last two days after the heatwave high pressure system moved out.
The fire in the Santa Cruz Mountains around Mt. Madonna Road and Loma Prieta Road is actually in the mountain area between Gilroy and Watsonville/Santa Cruz northeast of Monterey Bay. The fire has spread from 500 acres to over 2,000 acres in four hours as homes and forests and brush burn.
The high winds lately with gusts of 30 and some over 40 mph in places are going to make this a tough fight.
Wishing everyone the best and a safe return.
Update 10am: Our wind here where I live in Monterey is keeping the smoke to the east of this part of Monterey. I can see the thick smoke over the central Monterey Bay coast over Marina/Fort Ord area.
Update 12:30pm: Word is the fire is up to about 3,000 acres and fire spokesman states the fire may spread to 10,000 acres before the wind dies down tomorrow night. 500 firefighters in the region now, and another 500 firefighters expected by tomorrow. Wind is still blowing smoke east of Monterey. I am teaching in Salinas this afternoon and expect the air quality to be poor over there.
KTVU has incredible video of the high flames burning the trees for miles along the ridges. This could be a long week for the area.
Sat 7:00pm update:
Good fortune brought the fog around the Monterey Bay coast and nearby mountains and kept the wind calm most of yesterday. The air was clear and mostly blue in Gilroy. The smoke was actually blowing north over the San Jose basin and foothill communities of the Santa Cruz Mountains most of the day and just started blowing towards Gilroy in late afternoon. The fire did not spread with the ferocity experienced Thursday.
The day the fire started there was a thick pall of smoke that funneled across the Pajaro Valley of Watsonville and wound its way down the Salinas Valley and the Highway 68 pass between Salinas and Monterey where the smoke blocked up against the mountains and the smell was strong. Ash was falling in Salinas from the 15 mile wide swath of smoke. By the time I returned home to Monterey after 6pm, the wind had changed direction and the smoke had blown over the western part of Monterey and settled over the hills.
The fire is estimated around 4,000 acres now on late Saturday and about 25% contained. The winds were strong for the past couple hours and now have subsided here. Hopefully this fire will be contained with some cool weather, low winds, and hard work.