GRAND RAPIDS (April 20, 2014) — Despite the brutally cold and very snowy winter we had here in West Michigan, not to mention some heavy rain and severe weather last weekend, a high fire danger exists due to warm temperatures and low humidities (dry air).
Green-up with vegetation is just now getting underway and existing dead and very dry vegetation could fuel wildfires. The most volatile time of high fire danger will be through the early/mid evening hours as relative humidity levels are fairly low (in the 20 to 25 percent range) with not much moisture in the air. That, coupled with wind speeds of generally 10 to 15 mph and some slightly higher gusts continue to dry out the vegetation.
This entire high fire danger seems counter intuitive when we consider all the moisture we had from winter and some spring rains. While that may be true, most of that has percolated in to the ground and left the surface (with dead/dormant grass/brush) very dry.
In coordinating with the DNR and Forest Service, the National Weather Service states “conditions are actually not too far off from red flag warning criteria, but wind speeds and temperatures are the limiting factors.” The elevated fire threat may redevelop Monday before clouds and showers arrive with a cold front in the afternoon/evening. That said, dew point temperatures (a measure of moisture in the air) will also be rising so the atmosphere is not expected to remain quite as dry.
A few tips if you are going to burn: Burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover with holes no larger than three-quarters of an inch. Be especially careful with smoking materials as they can easily ignite dry vegetation and brush. Extinguish all outdoor fires with plenty of water and make sure to stir the embers until everything is cold to the touch.
Get the complete West Michigan forecast at www.fox17online.com/weather.