Red flag warnings issued across Alaska for high fire danger
Persistent hot and dry weather is responsible for high fire danger throughout Alaska. So much so, that officials have issued burn bans in many areas due to the threat of wildfires. But a shift in the weather pattern will bring increased fire danger in the coming days, prompting red flag warnings across the state.
The primary danger on Wednesday comes from lightning. Afternoon storms will produce a significant amount of lightning in areas that haven't seen any rain in a prolonged time.
These storms will likely produce very little rain, due to a lack of moisture in the atmosphere. Dry thunderstorms will spread across much of the Interior, producing up to 1,000 lightning strikes each day through the end of the week — a big change from our recent pattern.
The National Weather Service in Fairbanks issued red flag warnings for much of the forecast area through the end of the week. Those warnings include the Yukon Flats and surrounding uplands, Lower and Middle Yukon Valleys, Yukon Delta, Tanana Valley and Fortymile County, Upper and Lower Koyukuk Valley, Upper Kuskokwim Valley, Central Interior, Denali and the Eastern Alaska Range.
NWS Anchorage issued similar warnings for Southwestern and Southcentral Alaska. In Southwestern, red flag warnings include the Greater Bristol Bay area and the Middle Kuskokwim Valley. In Southcentral, red flag warnings include the Copper River Basin and Western Alaska Range.
Red flag warnings will likely continue for parts of Southcentral and Southwestern Alaska through the end of the week. Dry weather and lightning-producing storms will remain in the forecast.
This has already been an active wildfire season with over 400 fires reported across the state to date. The causes of the different fires remains split, with 203 caused by human activity, 189 caused by lightning and 11 with no cause given.
A post from the Houston Fire Department shows how important it is to follow burn bans when it comes to wildfire prevention and safety, especially under red flag warnings.
The fire danger, HFD said, is "really real." Photos show how a small fire was ignited by the radiant heat from a generator owned by a camper.
"After fully extinguishing the smoldering fire, we investigated the generator and found that the spark arrester was in perfect condition and that the machine itself had not ignited," the post reads. "The radiant heat from the exhaust was enough to ignite the fire. That's how real the danger is - it didn't even need a spark or ember to ignite. Simple radiant heat on top of dry ground."
During the red flag warnings, fire officials ask that you respect the burn bans and be vigilant when it comes to safety. If a mistake is made, call 911 immediately.
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