What is a Red Flag Warning?

What is a Red Flag Warning?image preview

According to the National Weather Service web page:

Red flag warning is a term used by fire-weather forecasters to call attention to limited weather conditions of particular importance that may result in extreme burning conditions. It is issued when it is an on-going event or the fire weather forecaster has a high degree of confidence that Red Flag criteria will occur within 24 hours of issuance.

Red Flag criteria occurs whenever a geographical area has been in a dry spell for a week or two, or for a shorter period , if before spring green-up or after fall color, and the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is high to extreme and the following forecast weather parameters are forecasted to be met:

1) a sustained wind average 15 mph or greater
2) relative humidity less than or equal to 25 percent and
3) a temperature of greater than 75 degrees F.

In some states, dry lightning and unstable air are criteria. A Fire Weather Watch may be issued prior to the Red Flag Warning.

Here’s another interesting explanation from the NWS:

Sky Condition
Used in a forecast to describes the predominant/average sky condition based upon octants (eighths) of the sky covered by opaque (not transparent) clouds.

Sky ConditionCloud Coverage
Clear / Sunny0/8
Mostly Clear / Mostly Sunny1/8 to 2/8
Partly Cloudy / Partly Sunny3/8 to 4/8
Mostly Cloudy / Considerable Cloudiness5/8 to 7/8
Cloudy8/8
Fair (mainly for night)Less than 4/10 opaque clouds, no precipitation, no extremes of visibility/temperature/wind

Check out our weather glossary for more weather terms.

This article was published by the staff at Farmers' Almanac. Interested in becoming a guest author? Contact us to let us know!

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