Travel Alert October 2019: Kincade Fire Affects Northern California

If Napa Valley, Santa Rosa and Sonoma and other areas of northern California north of the greater San Francisco Bay area are in your travel plans over the next few days, you may want to consider delaying your travel — or, at least, keep yourself updated as to the latest information pertaining to the weather — as a dangerous wildfire is only ten percent contained.

Travel Alert October 2019: Kincade Fire Affects Northern California

The National Weather Service had issued a red flag warning through 11:00 in the morning Pacific Daylight Time on Monday, October 27, 2019:

The offshore wind event featuring strong and dangerous winds and critically low humidity will continue to impact the area through Monday morning. This event may be the strongest since the 2017 wine country fires and potentially a historic event given the strength and duration of the winds. The strongest winds in the higher terrain are expected to continue through the morning hours today before weakening somewhat. Stronger winds mixing to the lower elevations will be a particular concern through the day. Winds will gradually ease at lower elevations by late today, but remain gusty across the higher elevations tonight and into Monday morning.

The 2017 wine country fires refer to the horrific wildfires which had plagued much of Sonoma wine country north of the San Francisco Bay area back in October of 2017. In addition to at least 1,500 structures and a minimum of 65,000 acres of land, that fire claimed the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel property, which has yet to be rebuilt and opened again.

A combination of extremely low humidity, offshore wind gusts of up to 90 miles per hour, and dry timber and brush have been hampering efforts by firefighters to contain what is known as the Kincade Fire, which has only been active for three days but has already consumed 30,000 acres. Only 3,000 acres of this fire are estimated to be contained — yet at least 79 structures have already been destroyed; and an additional 14 structures have been damaged, including two wineries.

Mandatory evacuations are in effect for at least 90,000 residents in ten zones; and several highways are already inaccessible — including United States Highway 101 for approximately 30 miles between Santa Rosa and Cloverdale; and California State Highway 128 in several locations.

Flight Waivers, Delays and Cancellations

If Napa Valley, Santa Rosa and Sonoma and other areas of northern California north of the greater San Francisco Bay area are in your travel plans over the next couple of days, expect delays and cancellations of flights. Keep up to date on the latest information pertaining to this wildfire which may affect your travel plans. Better yet, postponing or canceling your trip might be a better option — no matter which mode of travel you plan on taking.

If you have a flight scheduled, your flight may be delayed or canceled — and you may be eligible for a waiver of a fee to change your itinerary. If you are driving in any of the affected areas, watch out for deteriorating weather conditions and traffic problems.

Here are four airlines which have issued travel alerts as a result of this wildfire:

  • United Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santa Rosa for Sunday, October 27, 2019; and Sunday, November 3, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Alaska Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santa Rosa for Saturday, October 26, 2019 through Monday, October 28, 2019; and Friday, November 1, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Sun Country Airlines has issued a travel alert for Santa Rosa for Sunday, October 27, 2019; and Sunday, November 3, 2019 is the last day on which tickets must be reissued and rebooked travel must begin.
  • Air Canada has issued a travel alert for San Francisco International Airport for Sunday, October 27, 2019.

Summary

Expect the travel waivers to possibly not only be expanded in terms of duration; but also issued by additional airlines, as the wildfires are not expected to be completely under control until at least Thursday, November 7, 2019. No rain is officially forecast for at least until Monday, November 18, 2019 for the areas affected by the wildfires.

Be sure to contact your airline or transportation provider for the latest information pertaining to your travels — if they are adversely affected — and please: travel safely.

In the meantime, this wildfire reminds me of the aforementioned one from October of 2017 and the ones which devastated Fort MacMurray during May of 2016; and my thoughts and prayers are with the people in the greater San Francisco Bay area — especially in the North Bay area — as I hope that corporate entities will assist them as WestJet did with the residents and businesspeople of Fort MacMurray…

Source: California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

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