Author: Mary Knapp

Winter forecasts often include winter storm or blizzard warnings. Lately, the weather forecasts have included a different type of warning: RED flag warnings. Although more common in the forest areas of the Western United states, the RED flag warnings have been a frequent feature in the central plains this winter. A step above the extreme Fire Danger category, a RED flag warning is a warning for critical fire danger. A RED flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are occurring, or will shortly. These include a combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures. They create an atmosphere with explosive fire growth potential. Any spark has the potential to create a devastating fire. Use appropriate caution, such as avoiding outdoor burning, watching for hot exhaust systems over grass, and extra care with welding or anything that might create sparks.

Figure 1. Red Flag Warnings on 1/30/2018 (NWS)

Mary Knapp, Weather Data Library