The National Weather Service Lubbock issued a Red Flag Warning for the South Plains, Rolling Plains, and Texas Panhandle that remained in effect until 9 p.m. Friday. Although weather conditions are expected to drop Saturday, NWS forecasters asked the public to be mindful of their surroundings during the peak of fire threat season.
“We’re in the heart of our wind and fire weather season right now,” NWS Lubbock Lead Forecaster and Meteorologist Ron McQueen said. “All the ingredients are coming together, the dry conditions, the strong winds, we’ve been in a drought for five months, and the fuels. The fuel level is heavier than normal based on last year’s rainfall.”
Lubbock and surrounding areas were under critical fire conditions Friday, and a Fire Weather Watch is already in effect for Sunday. Based on NWS records, he said this year’s fire threat season is worse compared to previous years.
“What is different this year is that we had a large amount of fuel, grass and shrubs, that grew from last summer’s rainfall,” McQueen said. “We’ve had little to no rain in the past five months and that has caused the fuels to be dry, the ground is extremely dry. So the fire carries pretty quickly and on top of that, now we’re getting more frequent wind storms.”
McQueen predicted this fire and wind threat season to continue until about the middle of April. He urged residents in these areas to be cautious of their properties, and report any fires they see immediately to 911.