The State of Virginia has a burn ban that prohibits fires within 300 feet of woods or dry grass from midnight until 4 p.m. from February 15 through April 30 each year. Hey that sounds like our parks. Sometimes conditions may warrant complete burn bans. Why?
The 4 p.m. Law was adopted during the 1940's to reduce the number of wildfires which occurred each spring. During this time of the year, Virginia traditionally has an increased number of fires. During the winter months, winds are usually elevated, the relative humidity is lower and the fuels on the forest floor are extremely dry, having "cured" without having the tree leaves to shade them.
After 4 p.m., winds usually calm down and the relative humidity levels are on the increase, both of which reduce the potential for a debris fire or any outdoor open air fire to escape your control. Check out the Virginia Department of Forestry website for more information.
A red flag warning means weather conditions make wild fires likely.
Photo by DBduo Photography.
I subscribe to a weather and emergency service the state runs that covers the areas I commute through four days a week (I live in Yorktown and drive to Richmond). On Sunday I received a notice about Red Flag Warnings in all of the localities. I had never heard the term before so I went right to Wikipedia to find out about it:
A Red Flag Warning is a forecast warning issued by the humidity is very low, and especially when high or erratic winds which may include lightning are a factor, the Red Flag Warning becomes a critical statement for firefighting agencies, which often alter their staffing and equipment resources dramatically to accommodate the forecast risk. To the public, a Red Flag Warning means high fire danger with increased probability of a quickly spreading vegetation fire in the area within 24 hours.
Last night I found a @VDEM post on Twitter that sections of Interstate 64 (the stretch near West Virginia) were closed due to wild fires.