California residents and officials prepared for the worst, Sunday, amidst the most dangerous fire conditions the state has experienced in this already record-shattering year. Diablo winds with gusts as strong as 80 mph, and extremely dry conditions led the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center to designate much of Northern California’s as “extremely critical,” the most severe level on its fire risk scale. The conditions, which began yesterday afternoon and are expected to continue through Tuesday also forced PG&E, the state’s largest utility, to preemptively shut off power, with more than 1 million residents expected to be in the dark on Monday.
Berkeley city officials also encouraged residents in the hills above the city to leave their homes before Sunday afternoon due to the extreme fire risk. Dr. Tessa Hill described cars pointed out of everyone’s driveway in Sonoma County, “ready to go” at a moment’s notice. As of Sunday evening, multiple new fires were reported in Shasta and Tehama counties. (Fire conditions and Outages: Washington Post $, AP, San Francisco Chronicle; Berkeley: San Francisco Chronicle; Fires: Sacramento Bee; Climate Signals background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season)