Dry Winds Enhancing Southeast Fire Risk

February 25, 2012; 1:10 PM
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A dry air mass settling across the Southeast in combination with gusty winds will set the stage for an enhanced fire risk today.

The conditions present could turn any small fire into a quickly spreading inferno. As such, no outdoor burning is recommended to start the weekend.

The bone dry conditions will provide the fuel for potential fires, with relative humidities as low as 20 percent expanding from the Mississippi Valley into the South today from Mississippi, Alabama and Florida to the Carolinas.

Though recent rainfall has moistened soil in some areas, the low humidity levels combined with sunshine will quickly dry the ground, providing a tinder fuel for fires.

Wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph, highest from Florida to the Carolinas, would fan any flames quickly.

While outdoor burning is strongly discouraged, many wildfires are started in other ways.

Motorists carelessly tossing cigarette butts out the windows of their cars are often responsible devastating wildfires. While this type of activity is always discouraged, it should be especially so on days like this.

If you suspect a wildfire, do not take any chances and be sure to call 911 at the first sign. Though firefighting conditions may prove difficult today, early response to any fire gives firefighters the best chance for early containment.

As high pressure builds over the region on Sunday, then begins to push off the Carolina coast, lighter winds and a moister air mass will build over the region, helping to quell the fire threat.


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