Dry conditions lead to fire weather alerts being issued

Weather

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Multiple weather forecast offices have issued fire weather alerts due to the dry, warm, and windy conditions for Utah and the Great Basin. The red flag warnings in place begin on at noon on Sunday and last until 10 pm Monday. The dry and windy conditions on top of the above-average temperatures will create a conducive environment for fires to grow and spread rapidly. Open fires are discouraged during this time.

The high-pressure system that has been having us feel more like summer also brought in another summertime danger, fire weather.

The push of warm air from the southwest is allowing for daily high temperatures to be well above average and while that may be great for some outdoor enthusiasts, it is not great for potential wildfires. This on top of Utah still not seeing much relief from the exceptional drought is not where we want to start off the warming season. While there are no thunderstorms forecasted, people celebrating outdoors poses the risk of potential fire starting due to recklessness.

The criteria for a red flag warning have been met for certain parts of Utah this weekend as we will see dry air and windy conditions. Adding the dried out vegetation into the mix and this is a bad recipe during the holiday weekend.

The Western Uinta Basin is one area that will be under the red flag warning Sunday into Monday and when looking at our futurecast wind gust model it really shows why. We see that wind gusts pick up during the afternoon hours on both days when maximum daytime heating is strongest, meaning we will have all three pieces of the fire triangle in place. We will have our fuel in dry vegetation, our oxygen source due to the winds blowing in, and our heat from not only the warm air but also the ample amount of sunshine we are expecting.

But the Western Uinta Basin is not the only place that is under a red flag warning with similar conditions underway. The West Desert in southern Utah is also going to be very warm and dry with gusty conditions.

Again, according to our futurecast model wind gusts will remain on the strong side for many areas. Wind gusts range from the mid to upper 20s on Sunday to mid to upper 30s on Monday. These speeds will easily allow fires to burn out of control quickly. 

While many are enjoying the holiday weekend outdoors due to the above-average warmth, it is important to remember to practice safe behaviors when outdoors such as limiting open fires, not driving over the top of dry grassy areas, and disposing of any lit tobacco products properly. These small but important steps can help minimize the risk and danger that come with these red flag warnings so that everyone can enjoy a safe and happy Easter.

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