Red Flag Warnings Issued Across Parts of the Midwest and Southwestern United States (Credit: NWS Twin Cities, NWS El Paso, NWS)
It has been a dry start to the spring season in the southwestern United States. The above-average temperatures and lack of rain has caused dry ground conditions and significant drought. The National Weather Service has issued Red Flag Warnings for parts of the desert southwest. Above-normal temperatures combined with the lack of moisture has created critical fire weather conditions that remain in place due to gusty sustained winds up to 30mph combined with low humidity values in the single digits.
The ongoing drought in the area is another risk factor to this start of the spring. According to the U.S. Drought monitor, made by the National Drought Mitigation Center, there are four levels of drought ranging from D0 (abnormally dry) to D4 (exceptional drought). Drought conditions are present across a majority of areas in the desert southwest but levels of D3 drought, which is extreme drought and D4 exceptional drought levels, are most prevalent in parts of the four corners region of the United States.
For parts of southern and central plain states, red flag warnings are also in effect there. Parts of central Minnesota and northern Iowa have had gusty wind conditions 20-25mph, relative humidity values dropping into the twenties and afternoon high temperatures in the high 70s and low to mid-80s. These conditions are likely to remain throughout the afternoon and evening. During a red flag warning, it is extremely important to heed local burn bans, properly discard any cigarettes, and avoid activities that cause open flames or sparks. With the dry vegetation, warm temperatures, gusty winds, and low humidity it doesn’t take much to spark a brush fire or even a wildfire!
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© 2018 Meteorologist Shannon Scully