The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag warning for the metropolitan area, effective until 8 p.m. on Monday. It’s the third such warning that there’s an increased risk of fires this month, according to the NWS.
Heath Hockenberry, with NWS’ Fire Weather Program in Boise, Idaho, said such warnings are touched off by several factors, including dry conditions.
“The stuff out there in the wild land areas, or even the country sides are ready to burn,” he said. “The second element is the combination of high winds, low relative humidity, or a lot of lightning potential.”
Hockenberry said Red Flag warnings are more prevalent in the Western part of the country, but they do usually do occur a few times a year in the East, as well, particularly during the spring and fall.
“It’s just a lot more noticeable this year, because of warm conditions,” he said. “These weather fronts have been pretty vigorous and they’ve been throwing down a lot of wind in combination with some low relative humidity.”
Hockenberry said the mild winter is a factor, too. The warmer temperatures extended the growing season, tall grasses and brush had a chance to grow, then reached a dry period due to the lack of rain.
NWS said the winds in the region are typical for the season, and confirmed that last month was the fourth-driest March on record, with less than an inch of rainfall in Central Park.