BASTROP COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A controlled burn in Bastrop County turned into wildfire Tuesday, burning more than 780 acres as of Wednesday afternoon. Officials say it is 30% contained.
Below is a breakdown of weather conditions prior to the controlled burn from KXAN’s First Warning Weather team.
High winds in Central Texas
Around 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, a controlled burn was set in Bastrop county. South winds started gusting to 30+ mph at nearby Austin-Bergstrom airport before 10 a.m., and stayed consistent in direction/speed through the day.
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The winds were well-predicted more than 24 hours out by KXAN’s First Warning Weather team before the Bastrop County controlled burn was set.
Here was meteorologist Kristen Currie’s forecast Tuesday morning on the CW Austin:
At Giddings-Lee County Airport, located a few miles away from where Rolling Pines fire took place, the weather station recorded sustained winds up to 12 mph with gusts at 16 mph at 9:55 a.m. By 11 a.m., the wind gusts increased up to 24 mph.
Conditions for prescribed burns
According to the Texas Parks & Wildlife these are a few of the encouraged conditions for conducting a prescribed burn:
- Humidity should be between 25 to 40%.
- Wind speed should be between 10 to 15 mph.
- Burns should be ignited in the morning after 9 a.m.
Most importantly Texas Parks & Wildlife mentions the best time for any prescribed burns typically should be in the summer months when we usually have just seen an abundance of rain in the spring. The winter months are the driest season for us locally. The current area-wide developing drought even supplements this.
While Bastrop County technically was not in a drought, they were certainly drier than normal.
The relative humidity in the area between 10 a.m. and noon was between 60% and 80% which is a pretty moist environmental setup and not conducive to the spread of fire. With that said, the dried vegetation and high wind gusts in place were conducive for the spread of fire and appeared to be no match for containing that prescribed burn.