Elder Chestnut cools off with a stroll at the ocean's edge Monday at Palm State Beach under warm and hot conditions. (Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — While much of the country is starting to enjoy the fall season, with its changing colors and a bite in the air, the Central Coast has been basking in summer-like conditions.
That will change today, however, as there’s a slight chance of drizzle late today and early Wednesday, especially along the coast, said Bob Benjamin, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Monterey.
“The offshore flow has abated somewhat, and we’re going to see a bit of cooling trend,” Benjamin said.
While it was here, the offshore flow was responsible for some extremely warm temperatures, he said, with Santa Cruz hitting 93 on Saturday and Watsonville topping out at 89.
Today's high will be around 70, with winds out of the south at 11 mph. Tonight's low will be 47.
Elsewhere in the state, a storm system could bring much cooler temperatures, rain and possible mountain snow to southwest California.
That is welcome news at Camp Pendleton, where firefighters gained ground on a wildfire that has burned nearly 4 square miles of dry brush.
About 230 residents were allowed to return to their housing unit near Lake O'Neil Sunday evening, base officials said in a statement. Some 30 patients evacuated from Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton because of a power outage have been returned and the facility is fully functional.
The blaze at the Marine Corps coastal base was 41 percent contained as the fire danger subsided with calmer winds Monday. The statement from the base said officials expect to contain the fire by Tuesday.
The fire broke out Saturday amid hot, dry and blustery conditions throughout the region. Nearly 340 firefighters were at the scene. The fire's cause was under investigation.
About 40 miles to the north, a fire sparked in a mulch pile at a nursery near Santiago Canyon in Orange County prompted the evacuation of 23 residents on Sunday.
The fire was not threatening homes and an RV park in the area, but residents were asked to leave because of heavy smoke and in case a spot fire is ignited, said Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Steve Concialdi.
The blaze burned an outbuilding and quickly charred about 50 acres of surrounding wild vegetation. One firefighter suffered a minor injury. It was 50 percent contained Monday. Officials said full containment was expected Wednesday.
"This is a deep-seated stubborn fire," Concialdi said. "Mulch fires can burn for a long time."
The powerful Santa Ana winds that kicked up late Thursday subsided by Sunday evening. The fierce winds triggered a red flag warning of extreme fire danger from the National Weather Service, which called the situation the region's "most significant fire weather threat in the past five years."
A peak wind gust of 90 mph was recorded Saturday morning at Laguna Peak in Ventura County.
Wind gusts of 65 mph were reported near the area of a small fire that began Saturday near a key freeway interchange in northern Los Angeles County. The effort to put out the fire brought traffic to a standstill for about 90 minutes.
The driver of a big rig that went off U.S. 101 in Oxnard and crashed into a car dealership said wind was a factor in the crash, police in the Ventura County city said. The crash set off a fire that spread to vehicles in the lot.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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