Severe Weather Awareness Week: Fire Weather
by National Weather Service
April 22, 2016
This is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wyoming.
Today we will discuss fire weather.
What is fire weather and why would it be included in Severe Weather Awareness Week?
Fire weather is a broad term used to describe weather variables that influence fire potential, behavior, and suppression. The National Weather Service issues watches and warnings when weather variables encourage extreme fire behavior, just like the National Weather Service does for extreme winter weather conditions or for severe thunderstorms.
There are two products issued to warn of extreme fire behavior. The first is a Fire Weather Watch which is issued when the weather is expected to encourage extreme fire behavior a couple of days from now, and it is often upgraded to what is known as a Red Flag Warning once the time of the anticipated conditions draws closer.
When is a Red Flag Warning issued?
The main two weather elements that encourage explosive fire growth are very low relative humidity and breezy winds. Humidity below 15 percent, in combination with gusty winds above 25 mph, have shown to result in explosive fire growth when fuels are critical. If these conditions are expected then a Red Flag Warning is issued within 24 hours of the event.
A Red Flag Warning will also be issued when thunderstorms with little or no rainfall are expected when fuels are critical. Dry thunderstorms can initiate multiple new fire starts, which can tax fire fighting resources.
If a Red Flag Warning is issued for your area, this is your signal to be even more cautious with fire.
Wildfires can be started by the slightest spark, even from something as perceptively harmless as parking an ATV in the grass, the warm muffler may start a grass fire.
Check for current burn bans for your county, and please take them seriously. Current fire bans can be found at the following web page:
If you plan on doing some agricultural burning, please notify your local sheriff and fire department to ensure that it is legal and that you do not cause any false alarm calls.