City of Berkeley officials are warning residents to be on alert and advise those in the hills to consider leaving home before strong winds pummel the Bay Area on Sunday.
High winds along with dry conditions "are expected to create the most dangerous fire weather Berkeley has seen so far this year," according to a warning posted Friday on the Berkeley city manager's web page.
"The narrow, windy street network in the Berkeley hills can get crowded quickly. The more people who leave the area in advance, the more space there will be on roads if an evacuation is required," the city posted on its website.
Winds could reach 70 mph or higher over ridges and peaks late Sunday and early Monday, mainly in the North and East Bay hills, according to the National Weather Service.
The strongest gusts will likely come Sunday night into Monday morning, forecasters said.
A Red Flag Warning has been issued for the East Bay Hills, North Bay Mountains, and the Diablo from 11 a.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Tuesday. An additional Red Flag Warning is in effect for the North and East Bay valleys, San Francisco Peninsula, Bay Shoreline, Santa Cruz Mountains, and the Santa Clara Valley, from 8 p.m. Sunday through 11 a.m. Monday.
All residents should be on heightened alert and make sure phones are charged, according to the Berkeley city officials. Residents who live east of Claremont Avenue and residents of Panoramic Hill should also prepare for potential power shutoffs, officials said.
In anticipation of the heightened fire risk, Berkeley has added fire resources and police patrols in the hills. Vehicles and portable speakers have been moved to fire stations to help with evacuations if needed. PG&E has announced plans for a public safety power shutoff for parts of Berkeley that could start as early as 4 p.m. on Sunday.
An estimated 1,500 Berkeley customers could be impacted, which is the first time the city has been included in a power shutoff this year. A task force of fire and forestry responders is ready to respond to downed trees blocking evacuation routes.
Residents can help by reporting broken branches and fallen trees to 3-1-1 or (510) 981-2489. Calls to 9-1-1 should only be for immediate life safety issues.
For more information on staying ready during the Red Flag warning, go to https://www.cityofberkeley.info/home.aspx