Most of California is either abnormally dry or has slipped into moderate drought, according to U.S. Drought Monitor data from Nov. 12 that was released Thursday.
Meanwhile, moderate Santa Ana winds are on tap for Southern California this weekend, with relative humidity readings expected to be in the teens and single digits.
The portion of California considered to be abnormally dry expanded to 81.4%, covering much of the state from Shasta County southward, according to the new data. The abnormally dry area covered just 17.8% of California one week earlier.
A slice of land along the Colorado River and continuing northwestward along the Nevada border is in moderate drought. That portion has grown to 3.6% of the state, up from only about 2%.
Surface high pressure will build into the Great Basin this weekend after passage of a low-pressure trough, providing the typical setup for Santa Ana winds.
North to northeast winds gusting 30 to 40 mph are expected in the mountains and foothills of Santa Barbara County on Friday afternoon and evening. Advisory-level winds are possible in southern Santa Barbara County and through the Interstate 5 corridor.
The winds will swing around to the northeast on Saturday morning, with gusts up to 40 mph in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, causing elevated fire weather conditions. The offshore flow will increase Saturday night through Monday, with gradients peaking Sunday morning. Near-record temperatures are possible during the period.
Fuels are critically dry, even at historically dry levels, so fire danger will be critically high Sunday and Monday, although winds are expected to weaken Sunday night and Monday.