WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

What is a Fire Weather Alert?

Posted April 7, 2007

MIKE MOSS SAYS:     Mary,   There are a couple of fire-related advisories that may be issued by the National Weather Service, in conjunction with state and federal forestry officials. The more serious is called a Red Flag Warning, and is usually issued when a combination of three primary criteria will be exceeded all at the same time. Those three are: relative humidity less than or equal to 25 percent, sustained winds reaching 20 mph or more, and "10 hour fuels" (branches, twigs and so forth with diameters between one quarter inch and one inch) having a moisture content of 8% or less.

When these criteria are not met, but conditions are close enough to cause concern about outdoor fire behavior just the same, a Fire Weather Watch may be issued.  In both cases, officials advise strongly against any deliberate outdoor burning  and extra caution against accidental fires because of the potential for fires to rapidly spread and to become very difficult for firefighters to control or contain.


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