Widespread red flag warning for most of Bay Area starting Saturday morning

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for portions of the Bay Area starting Saturday morning and lasting through Sunday evening. 

Weather officials say the most critical time will be Saturday night through early Sunday. The warning is from 5 a.m. Saturday through 5 p.m. Sunday for much of the Bay Area. 

The weather warning is in anticipation of favorable conditions for wildfires. Red flag warnings mean dry and windy conditions will exist. You should not burn outdoors as fire could rapidly spread. 

The widespread warnings are for the following locations: North Bay, East Bay Hills and Valleys, Santa Clara Hills, Santa Cruz Mountains, and the San Mateo Coast. 

There is also a wind advisory in effect for the Bay Area hills and mountains from 8 a.m. on Saturday to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Gusts up to 45 mph are expected with gusts up to 60 mph possible at the highest elevations. A fire weather watch was issued a day earlier, but the weather service upgraded to the red flag warning. 

Before the dry and windy weather comes, a Frost Advisory is in effect from late Friday into Saturday morning for the North Bay valleys because of near-freezing temperatures between 33 and 36 degrees in the area.

The weather service warned that the cold weather could cause hazards for unsheltered people as well as pets, plants and pipes.

"Significant wind events such as this can greatly increase the chance of a fire's intensity and how quickly it can spread," said Cal Fire Assistant Venmer Deocariza. He said these conditions can also make it dangerous for firefighters. He asked residents to remain vigilant and to refrain from activities that can contribute to wildfires. Deocariza said it's not just fire season in California, but year-round vulnerability. "Preparedness is essential regardless of the calendar."

The chief said to hold off on using power equipment such as lawnmowers, and weed trimmers. He also advised to refrain from any type of landscape burning. 

"If you are planning on using wood fire places in your home, make sure you check them before using them," Deocariza said. He said there could be debris and buildup from the last time the fire place was used. 

Fire risk levels are expected to ease in the Bay Area beginning Monday.

Bay City News contributed to this report.