Lately, there have been far too many days where the phrase “high fire danger” has been used in our KXII broadcasts.
The drought of 2011 is not the worst on record, but the persistent unseasonably warm weather since mid-February has left lakes low and soil moisture even lower.
High fire danger results from gusty winds and low relative humidity values with temperature also playing a significant factor.
A warm windy day with higher relative humidity values will experience less of a fire threat than a warm, windy day with lower humidity.
Vegetation ignites more easily in drier air and since surfaces heat more quickly in a dry, warm environment, the fire might spread more easily.
We often hear the term “Red Flag Warning” when windy and dry conditions are taking place. Generally, winds must be 20mph or greater and relative humidity must be expected to fall to 20% or less during the warning period.
This means any outdoor burning is likely to get out of control and should be avoided. Other sources of ignition such as welding and open pit cooking fires should not be used during Red Flag Warnings.
In western states, “dry thunderstorms” create a lot of lightning but bring little rain because the air under the storm evaporates the precipitation before it reaches the ground. The lightning from such a storm often ignites fires in places difficult to reach, so some of these “dry storm” fires can get really huge.
This type of storm is quite rare in Texoma. In the meantime….here’s hoping for some rain soon.