“The two combined together can create critical fire weather conditions,” said meteorologist Dawn Fishler.
To make matters worse, Fishler predicts steady winds of between 15 and 30 mph with gusts of 60 mph, coupled with low humidity. A cold front brushing along northern California and Nevada will bring the gusty winds into the region this afternoon and early evening,
“This will combine with low afternoon humidity to create critical fire weather conditions,” she said.
Though it feels early this year to be issuing red-flag alerts, Fishler said, the issue mainly was with the low precipitation the area received this winter compared to the high precipitation the region got the year before.
Sandy Munns, a battalion chief with Reno Fire Department who is a “dangerous combination.”
“It’s the wind that really makes our situation much more dangerous,” Munns said. “We can’t get out ahead of the fire when it’s being pushed by 60 mph winds. Until the weather patterns change and we can see a little bit of rain, this will be the norm for us.”
Munns suggest that homeowners be aware of their behaviors during this time. For instance, a simple barbecue can ignite a neighborhood simply by tipping over in the wind.
“Barbecues are just like fireplaces. The ashes stay hot for a very long time,” Munns said. “They need to be cooled before you dispose of them. Things can topple over.”
Munns recommends discarding ashes into a metal bucket and placed in an area where wind is not going to tip it over.
Also, Munns suggested to be careful not t discard smoking materials from a car by discarding them from an open window or flicking ashes into the air with abandon.
Another dangerous activity during this time is outdoor shooting.
“People who want to go shooting should remember that brush fires are started when people go shooting, sparks can fly off rocks and fire can spread very ,very fast,” he said.
Humans have always played one of the biggest roles in starting fires. Washoe County has asked residents to help this year in the fight against fire ignitions by becoming vigilant, watching for dangerous situations and becoming fire-aware.
As far as the fire crews, they are briefed every morning of the conditions.
“We’re perhaps a little more vigilant. Lightening and wind are the two things we watch out for,” he said. “We’re already in a high fire season. We’re going to move into the extreme range in the very near future.”
To check the current weather status visit www.wrh.noaa.gov/rev/.