Rare red flag warning issued Saturday
February 15, 2014
High winds and low humidity resulted in a rare winter red flag warning on Saturday, the first of the year.
Typically, the National Weather Service won't issue a red flag warning until at least spring.
East Fork Fire District Deputy Chief Dave Fogerson said any major fire will have to be fought primarily by local resources, since it is so early in the season. No firefighting aircraft are on contract, but with winds blowing into 60s, they might not be effective anyway.
"Luckily, the heavy snowfall we had compressed the grasses down so we don't have standing down and dead materials," he said in an email to the district.
National Weather Service forecasters say conditions will continue through 4 a.m. Sunday and are similar to those during the Caughlin Ranch fire, which claimed at least two-dozen homes in November 2011.
Gusty winds are expected to continue as a strong cold front moves into Western Nevada tonight. Potentially damaging downslope winds are likely along the Sierra Front south into Mono County.
Expect south to southwest winds 20-35 mph, gusting to 50 mph, increasing to 30-40 mph, gusting to 60-80 mph late this afternoon. Wind prone areas could see winds of up to 100 mph, according to the weather service.
Humidity will drop to 6-15 percent this afternoon, then rise after midnight.
Residents are urged to be careful with ignition sources outdoors.