Red Flag Warning issued for parts of South Jersey; fire danger elevated in Philadelphia region: NWS

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Thursday, March 21, 2024
Red Flag Warning issued for parts of South Jersey; enhanced fire risk in Philadelphia region: NWS
Red Flag Warning has been issued for parts South Jersey Thursday, as well as an enhanced fire risk in the Philadelphia region.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning until 7 p.m. Thursday for parts of South Jersey. This means there are "critical fire weather conditions expected" on Thursday.

The areas of New Jersey include Middlesex, Western Monmouth, Eastern Monmouth, Mercer, Salem, Gloucester, Camden, Northwestern Burlington, Ocean, Cumberland, Atlantic, Cape May, Atlantic Coastal Cape May, Coastal Atlantic, Coastal Ocean and Southeastern Burlington.

There is also an elevated fire danger in Philadelphia and some surrounding areas, Action News Meteorologist Brittany Boyer.

A Red Flag Warning is issued when there is an "imminent danger of severe fire weather with a relatively high probability of occurrence," according to NWS. The warning is typically issued when there are warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds which, when combined, create an increased fire risk.

The Red Flag Warning Thursday was issued due to low fuel moisture, meaning the ground is dry and fires can easily ignite due to the dry conditions we've had. There is also low daytime relative humidity values, with dewpoints (the measurement of moisture in the atmosphere) in the single digits and teens. The region will also see breezy conditions throughout the day, with winds 15-25 mph and gusts upwards of 30-35 mph, which could easily spread any fire that starts.

Any fires that develop may be difficult to contain, NWS said. This means you should not have any outdoor flames and be careful with machinery. Also consider "dry fuels" such as leaves and vegetation on the ground.

Many communities have not had any significant rain in more than a week, so the conditions are favorable for any wildfire that starts to quickly escalate, Boyer said, adding that winds will start to calm down after Thursday and there is a soaking rain on the way for Saturday.

Tips from NWS during Red Flag Warnings:

  • If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch.
  • Do not throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They may ignite dry grass on the side of the road and become a wildfire.
  • Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it.
  • Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread.