Smoke from the Alisal Fire will reach the SF Bay Area soon


Smoke from the Alisal Fire burning in Santa Barbara County is forecast to drift into the San Francisco Bay Area Friday due to a shift in winds.

Weather models that project smoke movement indicate concentrations will be light. 

“We’re going to see winds above the surface shift to a southerly direction, and that’s what will bring the smoke down,” said Roger Gass, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Bay Area office. “It will initially bring the smoke toward the Central Coast in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito County.”

Gass said the smoke will push into the Santa Clara Valley and eventually the greater San Francisco Bay Area on Friday afternoon.

“Most folks will notice a haze up in the sky,” he explained. “We’re expecting it to stay mostly aloft and not reach the surface.”

Gass noted that an exception is the mountains along the Big Sur Coast, which are likely to see higher concentrations and smoke closer to the ground.

The Alisal Fire broke out amid high winds in Santa Barbara County Monday, threatening homes and ranches and closing a stretch of Highway 101 in western Santa Barbara County. 

At one point, the fire jumped the four-lane highway and reached a beach. The closure has forced motorists to take a circuitous detour on smaller routes.

A wildfire burns near a home Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021, in Goleta, Calif. A wildfire raging through Southern California coastal mountains threatened ranches and rural homes and kept a major highway shut down Wednesday as the fire-scarred state faced a new round of dry winds that raise risk of flames. The Alisal Fire covered more than 22 square miles (57 square kilometers) in the Santa Ynez Mountains west of Santa Barbara.Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP

The highway could remain shut until the weekend, said Andrew Madsen, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Firefighters working in steep, rugged terrain got help from more than a dozen water-dropping air tankers and helicopters that returned to the skies amid calmer daytime winds. But changing winds could keep aircraft grounded, said Los Padres National Forest Fire Chief Jim Harris.

“As the winds shift, it’s the most dangerous time, and critical time, of the fire, because the fire will change direction on us,” Harris said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.