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Red flag warnings issued across Southwest

Fire risk sign shows that the danger is very high
U.S. Forest Service
The Cerro Pelado fire in New Mexico.

News Brief

The National Weather Service has red flag warnings in effect in Colorado and New Mexico, and also issued such warnings for parts of Nevada, Utah and Arizona over the weekend.

But what does that even mean?

“When a red flag warning is issued, it really does mean that the weather is capable of producing extreme fire behavior should a fire occur,” said Heath Hockenberry, the weather service’s National Fire Weather Program manager.

Hockenberry said these warnings usually last one to three days.

Before issuing a warning, Hockenberry said they talk with land managers on the ground. They also look at winds, weather patterns and local ecology.

“An Albuquerque red flag warning has different criteria than Boise does. And that makes sense because we’re in two different climate regimes and that means that the fuels are different,” he said.

You can keep an eye out for these warnings on the weather service’s social media or on its website, weather.gov.

If there is a warning in your area, take precautions, like making sure campfires are fully out, and review plans in case a fire forces evacuations.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Madelyn Beck was Boise State Public Radio's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau.

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