Projected relative humidity values by early this afternoon.
All eyes will be on the critical fire danger expected by late morning into this afternoon. The combination of strong north winds, dry surface fuels, and low relative humidity will result in the potential for explosive fire behavior today. The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for much of North Texas, Central Texas, Southeast Texas, the Brazos Valley, the Coastal Plains, South Texas, and the Rio Grande Valley. By definition a Red Flag Warning means conditions are very favorable for the rapid spread of wildfires. The highest fire danger will be from 11 AM through 5 PM today. Please understand that relative humidity values will drop below 30 percent across all of Texas today so outdoor burning is not a good idea.
A strong northwesterly jet will be overhead today. As temperatures warm this afternoon some of that wind will mix down to the surface. We’re expecting gusty northwest winds of 20 to 30 MPH sustained across the northern Panhandle into North Texas, East Texas, and Southeast Texas. Wind gusts could exceed 40 MPH. Those winds will result in explosive fire behavior with any fires that develop. Extreme caution should be used if you’re handling any equipment that could cause a spark outdoors today. Some locations automatically go under a burn ban if a Red Flag Warning is issued. It goes without saying you shouldn’t be throwing your cigarettes out of your vehicle regardless of fire danger.
High temperatures will range from the low 50s to the upper 60s this afternoon. Those are right around average for early February but it won’t matter too much with the brisk wind expected. By tonight winds will diminish and temperatures will fall back into the 20s, 30s, to mid 40s. Fire crews should be able to make progress tonight on any larger fires that develop today.
Significant & Critical Fire Danger Forecast Tomorrow
A significant day of fire activity is possible on Monday. Unlike last week the highest fire danger will spread east to include the Interstate 35 region and some of our larger cities. A cold front will continue to move south tonight. Temperatures won’t be noticeably cooler on Monday but the airmass will be much drier. Sustained north/northwest winds will increase to 15 to 25 MPH by early afternoon. Winds could gust up to 40 MPH. At the same time relative humidity values will drop into the 15-25 percent range. The combination of those two factors will create critical fire danger across Northwest Texas, the Big Country, North Texas, Central Texas, and the Brazos Valley. The highest fire danger will be underway by noon and continue through sunset. After sunset temperatures will diminish resulting in an increase in relative humidity values. Winds will also weaken. An elevated to near-critical fire danger will exist across the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas, Southeast Texas, and East Texas. Vegetation that grew after the October rains is dormant. Officials report fuels are abundant. While vegetation has dried out the ground remains soft and that can easily cause trucks to sink into mud.
The strong winds tomorrow afternoon could cause a few power lines to come down. Outdoor use of welding equipment could also prove somewhat problematic. With an abundant fuel load and strong winds there is the potential for very active fire behavior. Fire crews could have their hands full but the Texas Forestry Service undoubtedly is ready. Make their jobs easier and don’t do any burning outdoors tomorrow. Be very careful if using any sort of equipment that could produce a spark. Red Flag Warnings will likely be issued for locations included in the Fire Weather Watch.
Unexpected high level clouds are helping to keep winds lower than forecast across the southern Panhandle and South Plains. Where the sun is shining across the Permian Basin and Far West Texas winds are gusting up to 55 MPH. Blowing dust is also possible. Fire danger remains very high across Northwest Texas, the Big Country, the Concho Valley, the Hill Country, and into the Permian Basin. We’ll continue to see gusty winds this afternoon before winds start to diminish after sunset.
Winds Will Rapidly Increase Soon across West Texas & Permian Basin
Winds have been slow to increase across West Texas and the Permian Basin this morning. That is due to the upper level storm system running a bit slower than planned. Over the past hour we’ve seen wind speeds rapidly increase across eastern New Mexico and in the higher terrain of Far West Texas. A boundary is quickly moving east across the South Plains. Temperatures rapidly increase along with a quick decrease in dewpoint values as that boundary moves over a given location. Winds also rapidly increase with gusts already up to 50+ MPH. At the same time a very strong jetstream is moving into Far West Texas and the Permian Basin. This jetstream will eject east into the South Plains, Rolling Plains, and Permian Basin over the next three hours. As that occurs those strong winds will mix down to the surface. Winds at 18,000 feet ASL will exceed 140 MPH – something we don’t actually see that often in Texas. Not all of that wind will mix down to the surface but we are expecting gusts to approach 60 MPH. The higher elevations in Far West Texas – such as the Guadalupe mountains – could see wind gusts approach 80 to 90 MPH this afternoon. Winds will be highest from 2 PM this afternoon through about 6 PM. After sunset an inversion will start to help winds at the surface decrease. Widespread blowing dust is expected across the southern Texas Panhandle, South Plains, Rolling Plains, Permian Basin, into Far West Texas this afternoon. Some of the dust could become dense – especially where the highest wind gusts set up. Its possible a few elevated showers may occur across the Texas Panhandle through early evening. No severe weather is expected. The fire danger will be critical across the regions listed above and into the Big Country, Concho Valley, Northwest Texas, Hill Country, and western North and Central Texas through sunset.
Tornado Warning: Newton County & Beauregard Parish (LA) until 1:30 PM
Tornado Warning for central Newton County in Southeast Texas and northwestern Beauregard Parish in southwestern Louisiana until 1:30 PM. Radar detected strong rotation and a possible developing tornado just south of Call. This storm will cross Highway 87 south of Bon Weir and potentially pass near or just south of Merryville, LA. This storm has the potential to become a problem maker as it moves into Southwest LA.
TORNADO WARNING NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE LAKE CHARLES LA 1243 PM CST THU JAN 21 2016
THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN LAKE CHARLES HAS ISSUED A
* TORNADO WARNING FOR… NORTHWESTERN BEAUREGARD PARISH IN SOUTHWESTERN LOUISIANA… EAST CENTRAL JASPER COUNTY IN SOUTHEASTERN TEXAS… CENTRAL NEWTON COUNTY IN SOUTHEASTERN TEXAS…
* UNTIL 130 PM CST
* AT 1243 PM CST…A SEVERE THUNDERSTORM CAPABLE OF PRODUCING A TORNADO WAS LOCATED NEAR CALL…MOVING NORTHEAST AT 40 MPH.
HAZARD…TORNADO AND HALF DOLLAR SIZE HAIL.
SOURCE…RADAR INDICATED ROTATION.
IMPACT…FLYING DEBRIS WILL BE DANGEROUS TO THOSE CAUGHT WITHOUT SHELTER. MOBILE HOMES WILL BE DAMAGED OR DESTROYED. DAMAGE TO ROOFS…WINDOWS AND VEHICLES WILL OCCUR. TREE DAMAGE IS LIKELY.
* THIS DANGEROUS STORM WILL BE NEAR… TROUT CREEK AROUND 1255 PM CST. BON WEIR AND BIVENS AROUND 110 PM CST. MERRYVILLE AROUND 120 PM CST. JUNCTION AROUND 130 PM CST.
TAKE COVER NOW! MOVE TO A BASEMENT OR AN INTERIOR ROOM ON THE LOWEST FLOOR OF A STURDY BUILDING. AVOID WINDOWS. IF YOU ARE OUTDOORS…IN A MOBILE HOME…OR IN A VEHICLE…MOVE TO THE CLOSEST SUBSTANTIAL SHELTER AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FLYING DEBRIS.