Dry thunderstorms coming; National Weather Service issues red flag warning

A brush fire burns the side of a hill off of state Route 17 near mile marker 4 approximately 1 mile west of Toquerville Saturday, Washington County, Utah, May 27, 2017 | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE – A red flag warning has been issued by the National Weather Service, alerting Utahns to the possibility of critical fire conditions as incoming dry thunderstorms and gusty winds are expected to arrive in the area Thursday.

Timing

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City has issued a Red
Flag Warning for dry thunderstorms and gusty outflow winds. The warning is in effect from noon Thursday to 10 PM MDT Friday, July 5, 2017 | Map provided by National Weather Service, Salt Lake City, St. George News

The warning begins noon Thursday and extends to 10 p.m. Friday.

Affected area

The warning covers much of the mountain ranges in the west and central sections of Utah. See included map for details.

Expect

Isolated and scattered dry thunderstorms will begin to expand across much of Utah beginning Thursday. Gusty and erratic winds are expected with typical speeds of 30 mph to 60 mph.

Impacts

The threat of dry lightning, with a high energy release component, and gusty microburst winds may contribute to the start and rapid growth of new fires. It will remain at record temperatures in the valleys as well for the next couple of days.

Read more: Excessive heat warning issued for Southern Utah

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions
are either occurring now … or are imminent. A combination of
lightning, dry fuel conditions and gusty microburst winds will
create favorable conditions for new fire starts and extreme fire
behavior.

Preparations/precautionary measures

The following fire safety tips, previously published by St. George News in 2013, were offered by Washington County Emergency Services for fire prevention:

  • Make sure you can legally burn in your area. Check with local authorities and obtain a permit.
  • Check the weather before you light a fire. High winds, high temperatures and low humidity radically intensify fire.
  • Choose a safe burning site away from trees or bushes, buildings or other flammable fuels.
  • Have means, like water or an extinguisher, to douse your fire quickly.
  • Stay with your fire. Don’t leave it unattended.
  • Don’t burn garbage, waste, construction debris, plastic, foam, rubber or other offensive substances.
  • Don’t throw lighted material, including cigarettes, from vehicles.
  • Use fireworks with caution, obey fireworks laws and don’t use illegal fireworks.
  • Always extinguish the fire completely before you leave it.
  • Never park on, or drive through, dry grass.
  • Be careful with the use of heat or spark generating tools or ATVs.
  • If you live in a wildland interface area, be prepared for wildfire.
  • Provide for defensible space around your home and out buildings.
  • Have a wildfire action plan for your family.
  • Have your important documents and disaster kits ready to go in an emergency.
  • Leave early if a fire threatens your neighborhood.

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