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Fire Weather Watch Issued for North and East Bay Starting Thursday

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- The Bay Area office of the National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for parts of the North and East Bay starting early Thursday evening.

The fire weather watch will go into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday, lasting until 11 a.m. Friday morning. The watch is focused on the North Bay Mountains and Valleys as well as the East Bay Hills and Diablo Range.

In addition to the forecast hot temperatures for inland areas -- with some parts expected to hit triple digits -- the region will be on the lookout for possible dry thunderstorms and possible lightning in addition to gusty winds up to 30 mph that could fuel the quick spread of any wildfires sparked during this period.

Forecast models are showing a better chance of showers developing late Thursday into early Friday as an upper-level storm system funnels sub-tropical moisture and instability toward the Bay Area, according to KPIX 5 meteorologist Paul Heggen.

While short-range, high-resolution models aren't showing any lightning yet, the European forecast model has been indicating a "non-zero threat of lightning," Heggen said. While there appears to be a low probability of lightning, it remains a high-consequence scenario due to the dry vegetation conditions brought on by extreme drought.

The announcement comes after the California ISO declared a Flex Alert for Wednesday afternoon that goes into effect at 4 p.m. due to the expected hot temperatures.

"With above-normal temperatures in the forecast for much of California and the West, the power grid operator is predicting an increase in electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use," said ISO officials in a statement.

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