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What does “Red Flag Warning” mean again?

Posted at 1:30 PM, Feb 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-18 13:56:25-05

COLORADO – We have Red Flag Warnings for most of our viewing area today until 6 pm. It’s been some time since we had to deal with these warnings, so here’s a quick rundown of what they mean.

A Red Flag Warning basically means that fire danger is a big concern. There is going to be an environment in which fires can catch and spread very quickly, which can cause dangerous situations. These warnings are issued by the National Weather Service in Pueblo with specific criteria in mind:

  • Frequent gusts over 25 mph
  • Relative humidity below 15%
  • Dry fuels

These conditions need to last for at least three hours. Basically, a gusty day with dry air and really dry grass, trees, etc. It’s no surprise that these conditions will lead to fire concerns. Fuels that are dry can catch fire quickly and dry, gusty conditions can spread that fire rapidly. On days with Red Flag Warnings, we always advise avoiding burning or anything that could potentially start a fire.

These warnings don’t happen too frequently in the winter months, although they do occur sporadically. They are far more common in our warmer months when conditions run hot and dry most of the time and the snow pack is depleted. Over the past 10 years of records, we’ve had 415 Red Flag Warning Days with somewhere in our viewing area being under a warning. 70% of those days occurred between March and June so we’re likely to see even more Red Flag Warnings as we get into Spring and early Summer.