Cam's Weather Corner: Fire weather in the Panhandle

Cam's Weather Corner: Fire weather in the Panhandle

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - It has been an exceptionally dry winter this year.

Only 0.01 inches of precipitation has been measured at the airport. That's pretty dry.

When we talk about drought conditions like this, the next thing we tend to worry about are fires and fire season.

I'm sure you've heard a lot of the First Alert team members talk about fire weather, but what is fire weather?

Textbook Fire Weather is characterized by temperatures above 75 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity values less than 25 percent, and winds stronger than 15 mph.

Seeing as it has been so dry lately, this year has been the perfect example of that not always being the case.

We've had numerous fires occur on days when temperatures are barely above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. That being said, the frequency and severity of fire weather is ultimately driven by how much moisture an area has seen.

Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings are common fire weather predictions issued by the National Weather Service.

The Fire Weather Watch is issued when fire conditions are favorable within 24-48 hours. The Red Flag or Fire Weather Warning is typically issued when fire conditions are likely within 24 hours.

Red Flag Warnings should be taken very seriously especially since we lose more homes to fires than to severe weather.

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The most common way to get critical fire danger across the area is by down-sloping winds. Down-sloping winds compress and warm the air as they descend down the mountains.

In our area, classic down-sloping winds come from the southwest and west, but can sometimes come from the northwest.

We are entering the time of the year where fire weather is at its prime. The reason for this is due to the increased frequency of big storm systems missing us off to the north and east.

When this happens, this is called a dry slotting event, where we don't see any moisture, but due to the nearby intensifying storm system, it leads to widespread warm, dry and windy conditions.

March and April are notorious for dry slotting events, which means fire danger is especially high during these months.

Let's all do our part concerning fire prevention and safety to keep the Panhandle fire-free.

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