Hot weather ahead: Dry conditions and ‘moderate’ air quality persist

Meteorologist Emily Heller described the region as “exceptionally dry.”

Water from the South Yuba River passes under the nearly restored Bridgeport Covered Bridge Tuesday outside of Penn Valley. Minimal rainfall and snowpack this year means water levels are low and vegetation is more prone to wildfire.
Photo: Elias Funez

According to the National Weather Service, dry, warm conditions will persist throughout the week on the eastern and western ends of Nevada County.

Meteorologist Emily Heller described the region as “exceptionally dry.”

“All the fuels are basically ready to burn,” Heller said.

Heller said temperatures in east county will stay in the upper 80s throughout the course of the week, with a Wednesday high of 89 in Truckee.

Similarly, west county temperatures will remain stable and predictably hot beginning today at 97 in Grass Valley.

Heller said temperatures on both ends of the region will decrease by a degree or two Thursday and Friday.

Grass Valley anticipates highs of 97 both Saturday and Sunday. The National Weather Service anticipates Truckee will hit 88 on Saturday, and 87 on Sunday.

Heller said no “significantly breezy” winds are expected to exacerbate ongoing fires, but the chance of small, scattered thunderstorms on Thursday and Friday raises concerns about lighting strikes.

“Over the next couple of days, there’s a potential for mountain thunderstorms,” Heller said. “There’s potential for an isolated storm or two on Thursday and Friday, which would bring some locally breezy conditions, some rain, but also, you know, lightning — with things being so dry, that could lead to a new fire.”

Residents of Nevada County continue to endure diminished air quality in the region because of the Dixie Fire, now considered the largest fire ever recorded in California.

According to Cal Fire’s website, the Dixie Fire burned 487,764 acres in Butte, Lassen, Plumas and Tehama counties over the span of 27 days. The fire is 25% contained.

Within county limits, the River Fire began to darken the sky Aug. 4. A week later, the fire is 78% percent contained, having burned 2,619 acres and destroyed 66 residential structures, two commercial structures and 20 other buildings.

According to the California Air Resources Board, the current and predicted air quality remains in the “moderate,” yellow category. The Environmental Protection Agency states the moderate air quality index — between 51 to 100 micrograms of particulate per cubic meter — is acceptable, “but some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people.”

Heller said the possibility of storms near the county’s higher altitudes comes from monsoonal moisture originating in the Arizona-Nevada area.

“The high pressure brings up moisture, and sometimes it makes it as far north as our area,” Heller said.

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer with The Union and the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at

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