FIRST ALERT WEATHER DAY: Extreme fire danger on the South Plains

FIRST ALERT WEATHER DAY: Extreme fire danger on the South Plains
High temps for Thursday
Thursday fire danger (Source: KCBD Graphic)
Thursday fire danger (Source: KCBD Graphic)

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Our First Alert Weather Day will bring high winds, possible record heat and very dry conditions on Thursday. That combination that will create severe fire danger for portions of the South Plains.

Winds will average 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to, or over 40 mph. When added to sunshine, the dry, strong winds will push afternoon highs to the mid to upper 90s in West Texas.

A Fire Weather Warning, defined below, is in effect Thursday. In these forecast conditions - much warmer, windy, low humidity, and very dry fuels (such as grass) - fires start more easily and are extremely difficult to control.

We've designated Thursday a "First Alert Weather Day" to emphasize the potential for this significant weather to interfere with normal activity in the KCBD viewing area.

Any time Lubbock County falls under a Fire Weather Warning, as it is Thursday afternoon an Outdoor Burn Ban automatically goes into effect. When outdoors, avoid using open flames, keep vehicles and equipment with hot exhaust systems away from dry grasses, avoid activity that may generate sparks (such as dragging chains), and if you are a smoker use extreme care with your ashes and butts.

This afternoon will be hot and very windy, an extreme wildfire weather combination. Also, blowing dust is likely and drivers may encounter areas of low visibility and/or rapidly varying visibility. These conditions are most likely near open fields. Vehicles, especially high-profile vehicles such as delivery vans and 18-wheelers, on north-to-south and northwest-to-southeast oriented roads (such as 214, 385, I27-US87, 207, US70, 208, and US83) will be buffeted by strong and gusty crosswinds.

Friday will be much cooler but may be even windier than Thursday. While the cooler weather will help decrease the fire danger, it will be another No Burn Day. Like Thursday, blowing dust is likely, and drivers may encounter areas of low visibility and/or rapidly varying visibility. Vehicles on north-to-south and southwest-to-northeast oriented roads will be buffeted by strong and gusty crosswinds.

A freeze will be possible Saturday morning over the northwestern KCBD viewing area. We expect the Lubbock area will drop into the 30s but also be near freezing. Freezing and sub-freezing temperatures are a little more likely Sunday morning. A freeze appears likely in the northern viewing area, especially the northwest. There is a slight chance the Lubbock area will experience a freeze Sunday morning, our current forecast keeps Lubbock just below 32°.

Watch for updates to our forecast, available 24-7 on our Weather Page at KCBD.com/weather, in our free KCBD First Alert Weather app, and during all our newscasts. Catch one at Noon, 4 PM, 5 PM, 6 PM, and 10 PM, and mornings during Daybreak Today from 5 to 7 AM.

A Fire Weather Warning, also known as a Red Flag Warning, is issued when the following conditions exist or are anticipated:

- Three hours of sustained winds 20 mph or greater, or gusts of 35 mph or greater.

- Relative humidity values of 15 percent or lower.

- The National Fire Danger Index is "High" or above. Today in the KCBD viewing area the fire danger rating is "High to Very High", and tomorrow is forecast to range from to "Very High" to "Extreme".

You can view these and other warnings using our free KCBD First Alert Weather App. Launch our interactive radar, tap/click the "Layers" icon in the lower right corner (resembles three stacked sheets of paper). Tap/click the "Other" icon (last option under the "Alerts" layer). Return to radar (left arrow in the upper left corner). You can tap/click anywhere in the shaded area for more information. In this case, you will see a window open with a message similar to "Weather Alerts: Fire Weather (Red Flag) Warning... in effect from 1 PM... a high fire danger."

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