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Forest Service warns of critical fire weather conditions today

AMARILLO — Critical fire weather conditions will be present over the Texas Panhandle and West Texas regions Wednesday (Jan. 10) with a small chance of a weather-caused phenomena called a Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak.

The National Weather Service Storm Prediction Center has issued an alert putting western portions of the state in the “critical” and “elevated” categories for wildfire potential.

The areas of concern are Amarillo, Lubbock, Midland/Odessa, Abilene, Fort Stockton, Wichita Falls, San Angelo and El Paso regions.

Increased fire activity is a concern due to sustained wind speeds of 25 to 35 mph combining with possible low relative humidity, above normal temperatures and an increased amount of dormant grass in the region.

“If a fire should occur, expect it to move fast and burn hot,” said Texas A&M Forest Service Predictive Services Department Head Tom Spencer. “The increased amount of dried vegetation can make this be a very dangerous situation.”

Texas A&M Forest Service is monitoring the situation closely and will be working with local meteorologists, response departments and other state agencies in the region should severe wildfire weather occur.

Even without critical conditions, Wednesday’s weather will be prone to wildfires being ignited by people engaging in everyday activities and thus may be preventable. Caution should be used with any outdoor activity that may cause a spark. It only takes one spark to start a wildfire.

  • Postpone outdoor burning until conditions improve.
  • Avoid parking and idling in tall, dry grass. Catalytic converters can get hot enough to ignite the grass under a vehicle.
  • Avoid setting hot chainsaws or other hot, gas-powered equipment in dry grass.

Wildfires burning in grass can spread and grow extremely fast. It is important that if you spot a wildfire you report it immediately to local authorities. A quick response can help save lives and property.

For more information, view the video the Southern Plans Wildfire Outbreak weather conditions visit the Texas Interagency Coordination Center website or the Texas A&M Forest Service Current Situation page.

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