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.