Fire Weather Watch

Last week more than 20 fire companies joined together to prevent the spread of a blaze which reached more than 2,400 acres of the Shawagunk Ridge and Roosa Gap State forest.

The fire increased and sustained due to environmental conditions. Not long before the fire began, the National Weather Service posted a Red Flag warning for Dutchess County, stating: “Low relative humidity combined with gusty winds and extreme dry conditions could lead to brush fires in Dutchess County. Fires may spread rapidly and uncontrollably.”

It is important to understand weather warnings to prepare, and potentially prevent disaster.

There are two basic types of “fire warnings.”

  • Fire weather watch: issued when there is potential for a severe fire in the near future. A “fire weather watch” has a relatively low probability of occurring. A watch is generally issued 12 to 24 hours prior to the expected onset of severe fire weather conditions.
  • Red flag warning: indicates a high risk of severe fire. Warnings are typically listed within twelve hours of danger and aren’t necessarily preceded by a fire weather watch.

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