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RED FLAG WARNING

Meteorologist Josh Fitzpatrick explains what it means.

With the drier than average weather the last few weeks, our wildfire risk has been high.  When that occurs, a red flag warning is sometimes issued by the National Weather Service. 

A Red Flag Warning is a forecast warning issued to inform area firefighting and land management agencies that conditions are ideal for wildland fire ignition and propagation. After very dry or drought conditions, and when humidity is very low and especially when high or erratic winds which may include lightning are a factor, the Red Flag Warning becomes a critical statement for firefighting agencies, which often alter their staffing and equipment resources dramatically to accommodate the forecast risk. To the public, a Red Flag Warning means high fire danger with increased probability of a quickly spreading vegetation fire in the area within 24 hours.

The weather criteria for fire weather watches and red flag warnings varies with each Weather Service Office’s warning area based on the local vegetation type, topography and distance from major water sources but usually includes the daily vegetation moisture content calculations, expected afternoon high temperature, afternoon minimum relative humidity and daytime wind speed.

Outdoor burning bans may also be proclaimed by local law and fire agencies based on Red Flag Warnings.

A separate but less imminent forecast may include a Fire Weather Watch which is issued to alert fire and land management agencies to the possibility that Red Flag conditions may exist beyond the first forecast period (12 hours). The watch is issued generally 12 to 48 hours in advance of the expected conditions, but can be issued up to 72 hours in advance if the NWS agency is reasonably confident. The term “Fire Weather Watch” is headlined in the routine forecast and issued as a product. That watch then remains in effect until it expires, is canceled, or upgraded to a Red Flag Warning.

I personally think these dry and hot days we've had lately are a sign of a hotter and drier summer ahead. 

If you have a weather related question email me at josh.fitzpatrick@wsaz.com, follow me on Twitter: twitter.com/weatherjoshfitz and or join my facebook fan page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Josh-Fitzpatrick-fan-page/362878134573 

 

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