Several grass fires were reported this past weekend across the western half of Texas. We note that one fire did develop in Victoria County today in the Coastal Plains. That fire is now almost contained with the Texas Forest Service reporting 800 acres burned. The past few days have featured elevated fire danger, but those will increase to the critical range on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Tuesday will feature the more widespread fire danger. Relative humidity values drop below 20 to 25 percent along and west of Interstate 35 to San Antonio. The increased fire weather threat will also include South Texas along and west of Highway 281. Winds gusting up to 30-35 MPH and dry surface fuels the stage will be set for a critical fire weather day. A critical fire weather day means there is an increased potential for larger wildfires. Any fires that develop have the potential to spread rapidly. Additional resources will be needed to contain fires, with extended firefighting operations possible.
Winds will be lower across the eastern half of Texas. Humidity values will be near or below 40 percent. Those regions who have had limited rainfall over the last several weeks will still face elevated fire weather danger. At this point in the game, we’re noticing the drought increase fire danger – even on days with lighter winds.
Another critical fire weather day is anticipated on Wednesday across portions of the Texas Panhandle, West Texas, the Big Country, and the Permian Basin. Depending on trends we could see near-critical fire weather conditions extend eastward into North Texas and the Hill Country on Wednesday. Both Tuesday and Wednesday will feature conditions favorable for rapid fire spread. Dormant winter fuels combined with increased fuel loading from drought conditions further increase wildfire danger.
Do your part to help reduce the chance of a wildfire. Many of the fires we deal with in Texas are human-caused. Consider postponing mowing your lawn or doing outdoor welding. It takes one spark to start a grass/brush fire. Those fires will move quickly in the forecast weather conditions.