Wind advisories and fire danger sweeps the Tx Panhandle

VIDEO - Wind advisories and fire danger sweeps the Tx Panhandle
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:16 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2023 at 9:24 AM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Agencies in the Texas Panhandle area are prepared for high wind speeds today.

All across the Panhandle, residents and first responders are worried about wind advisories and fire danger.

Texas Department of Public Safety is warning drivers about unpredictable high wind gusts as they have been known to knock over 18-wheelers.

“We ask everyone out there who is driving a high profile vehicle to be extra cautious during these high winds as those vehicles are more vulnerable to getting blown over by the high wind gusts,” said Sgt. Cindy Barkley, public information officer for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

To stay safe on the road, be sure to give yourself extra room in between cars.

“Slow down because you’ll have more time to react if you get blown sideways or if another driver knows you can get out of their way,” said Sgt. Barkley. “Also be sure to keep your hands firmly on that steering wheel when you’re driving and always remember to wear your seatbelt.”

If a dirt storm picks up and visibility drops, DPS says to turn your bright lights on, exit off of the roadway, engage your emergency break, and wait for the storm to clear.

NewsChannel 10′s Chief Meteorologist Doppler Dave Oliver says with high winds, you should secure your outside belongings and to not travel if you don’t have to.

He said the wind, fire watches and fire warnings in the area today are similar to a tornado watch regarding danger.

“We’ve lost more property, we’ve had more lives lost due to wildfires in the last decade than we had tornadoes,” said Doppler Dave. “What can happen is a fire can start to get out of hand and we can have hundreds of thousands of acres burning at the same time. And we’re just completely unable to slow that down.”

He says the area has lost hundreds of homes, herds of cattle, and entire ranches due to a single wildfire. He also says this is a very serious threat and something we need to take seriously.

Potter County Fire and Rescue is asking you to stay vigilant to fire risks like throwing cigarette butts, dragging chains from your car, and brush around your house.

“You’ll have wind gusts, pick some embers up and carry them far away,” said Richard Lake, Fire Chief of Potter County Fire and Rescue. “There are all kinds of things this time of year it is so dry outside, any spark that hits the ground has the potential of causing a devastating wildfire.”

Something as simple as shrubs can cause a house to burn down. From the time an ember ignites, it can cause an uncontrollable fire.

This time of year, Potter County is always prepared for the threat of wildfire.

“As far back as 2006, we’ve had pretty devastating fires that occurred in the last two weeks of February,” said Chief Lake. “This time of year, we always try to have all of our equipment ready and try to have as many personnel as we can available.”

Chief Lake says if you see something resembling a fire, call them immediately.

To stay up to date on weather conditions click here or download our First Alert Weather App.