What The Heck Is a Red Flag Warning?

red flag warning- ake
During the warmer months, you may start to hear something on the news about a “Red Flag Warning”. What the heck does that mean and why should you care?

Red Flag Warnings (also fire weather warning) are used to alert land management agencies and firefighters about the possibility that current or predicted weather conditions could lead to wildfire activity and issued 12 to 24 hours in advance. This warning is given when conditions are ideal for a wildfire combustion and threat of rapid spread.

Red Flag Warnings issued are dependent on a number of factors including:

  • low humidity
  • strong or erratic winds
  • dry land
  • drought conditions
  • heat lighting
  • vegetation type
  • topography
  • distance to water sources

A Red Fire Warning is not to be ignored. It means that there is imminent danger of a severe fire occurring. When a warning is issued, it lets firefighting agencies know to start equipping different tools and strategies to accommodate the risk of a wildfire.  Additionally, it also might mean that a burning ban will be issued by local agencies to cut down on the risk of a fire getting out of control.

This is not to be confused with a Fire Weather Watch. This is a less severe risk issued when there is only a low chance of fire occurring up to 12 to 72 hours in advance. This can be upgraded to a Red Flag Warning if conditions change.

During times of high fire danger, it is imperative that you do everything you can to avoid starting a fire.

Follow these guidelines during a Red Flag Warning:
  • Don’t conduct a controlled burn.
  • Don’t use fireworks or start a campfire/fire pit.
  • Stow trailer chains properly.
  • Don’t drive over dry grass.
  • Postpone target shooting.
  • Avoid yard work or welding near dry vegetation.
  • Don’t BBQ or grill.
  • Don’t mow the grass, or drive anything on grass for that matter.
  • Do not throw cigarette butts on the ground.

You can check our fire outlooks and warning in your area using the National Weather Service: Fire Weather. With these tips you can stay safe and help cut down on the risk of starting a fire. To learn more about what to do before and during a wildfire, click HERE.

To learn other severe weather terms, click HERE.

Be sure to check out our Facebook and Twitter pages!

Leave a Reply