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Gusty winds combined with dry conditions increase the possibility of fires in much of the Bay Area and parts of Monterey County.

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning on Sunday – meaning critical fire weather is occurring now or soon will be – for parts of North Bay, much of Alameda and Contra counties Costa, parts of the Peninsula and the Santa Cruz Mountains, and south between Monterey and Big Sur.

Forecasts call for gusty northerly winds. Add that to vegetation that has gone for months without significant rain and low humidity, and officials are concerned about the potential for large damaging fires.

The red flag warning began Sunday at 11 p.m. and continues through 5 p.m. Tuesday in the North Bay Mountains and East Bay Hills and Valleys. It started a few hours later, at 2 a.m. Monday, for the Santa Cruz Mountains, the interior of the San Benito and Monterey County mountains, and the Santa Lucia Range.

In much of North Bay and East Bay, the warning will apply to areas above 1,500 feet above sea level, and not directly to places like downtown Oakland, Napa and Santa Rosa, said Gerry Diaz, Bay Area Meteorologist in the Weather Service. And in San Mateo County, he said, it will cover areas of around more than 1,000 feet.

A wind advisory will also be in effect for much of the region, Diaz said.

Winds are expected to reach 15 to 30 miles per hour, with gusts of up to 40 to 50 miles per hour.

Any new fires, the weather service warned, “are likely to show moderate to rapid growth.”

Earlier this weekend, the National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for much of the north and east of the bay, citing high winds and low humidity.

People can visit readyforwildfire.org for advice on forest fire preparedness and they can check their evacuation area at myzone.zonehaven.com.

Pacific Gas & Electric Co. warned it could cut power to some 44,000 California customers on Monday – including more than 800 in southern Monterey County – in response to the gusty wind system.

Portions of 32 counties could lose electricity as of 1 a.m. Monday, the power company said in a press release. Customers can check the status of their address with the PG&E card at https://bit.ly/3FyQFIx.

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