Fire Weather Watch and Red Flag Warnings

Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings are used to convey the possibility of severe fire weather to wildland fire agencies.

Fire Weather Watch

A Fire Weather Watch is issued when the potential for severe fire weather exists in the near future. A watch is used when there is a relatively low probability of occurrence and less chance of verifying. The fire danger rating is usually in the high to extreme category.

A Fire Weather Watch normally will be issued 12 to 24 hours in advance of the expected onset of severe fire weather conditions and typically in conjunction with the routine narrative forecasts. The area affected, onset time, and a statement describing the conditions will be included in the forecast. Fire Weather Watches are cancelled if subsequent information indicates that the conditions are no longer expected to develop. This cancellation is disseminated either by headline in the routine forecast or special statement.

NOTE: You may see a Fire Weather Watch issued for a period less than 12 hours, but this can be done only for dry lightning and when there is a low probability of the event developing. If there is a high probability of dry lightning, then a Red Flag Warning will be used.

Red Flag Warning

A Red Flag Warning is issued to indicate the imminent danger of severe fire weather and a relatively high probability of occurring. The fire danger is usually in the high to extreme category.

A Red Flag Warning may or may not be preceded by a Fire Weather Watch. A Red Flag Warning will normally be issued for severe fire weather events less than 12 hours away from occurring. They are typically issued in conjunction with the routine narrative forecasts. The area affected, onset time, and a statement describing the conditions will be included in the forecast. Red flag warnings are cancelled if subsequent information indicates that the expected conditions are no longer going to occur. This cancellation is disseminated either by headline in the routine forecast or special statement.

Helpful Links: