AUSTIN (KXAN) – A combination of extremely low humidity, gusty winds and dry vegetation may lead to a “wildfire outbreak” on Thursday, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.
While areas from Austin eastward are expecting high humidity, mostly cloudy skies and even a few light rain showers on St. Patrick’s Day, a front called the ‘dry line’ will move through the Hill Country — bringing a very high fire danger west of Highway 281.
The dry line brings hot west winds and sunshine, and may warm temperatures in places like Llano and Mason counties to near 90 degrees.
The drier air behind that boundary in concert with very warm temperatures is set to bring incredibly low relative humidity levels to parts of the Hill Country Thursday afternoon and evening.
Due to this weather setup along with much below-average rainfall in the Hill Country this winter and early spring, the Texas A&M Forest Service is expecting the potential of significant fire activity on Thursday along and west of the I-35 corridor.
The fire experts at Texas A&M Forest Service even go so far as to say that evacuations due to fires have been “common” under the weather conditions that are forecast on Thursday.
The significant fire risk brings what they call the potential of a “Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak.” This rare, high-impact wildfire phenomenon is similar to California’s Santa Ana winds, but occurs in the Southern Plains, impacting Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.
“Texas A&M Forest Service has been monitoring the fire environment and increased wildfire activity this week,” said Wes Moorehead, Texas A&M Forest Service Fire Chief. “The potential for significant, large wildfires has developed for tomorrow, Thursday, March 17. Wildfires that ignite under these forecast conditions are highly resistant to firefighters’ suppression efforts and pose a threat to public safety. We encourage residents to be cautious tomorrow, be prepared and listen to warnings from local officials.”
Texans are encouraged to make evacuation preparations in advance of the expected wildfire activity this weekend.
Do your part to prevent the formation of a dangerous wildfire on Thursday by not conducting any outdoor burning, being careful to prevent chains dragging behind trailers or trucks that may spark nearby grass, and properly discarding cigarettes — not throwing them out of the window.
Texas A&M Forest Service also recommends you consider the following:
- Prepare multiple evacuation routes in case one is compromised by heavy smoke.
- Assemble a go-kit that can be grabbed easily and includes the following items:
- Supplies for both people and pets. Assemble a go-kit that can be grabbed easily and includes the following items:
- Prescription medications or other necessary medical equipment.
- Papers and important documents such as insurance and identification documents.
- Personal needs including food, water, clothing, money and a first aid kit.
- Priceless items such as photos, family heirlooms and any other irreplaceable or valuable items.
- Listen to local officials and, if necessary, evacuate early to get yourself out of harm’s way.
If you see a wildfire on Thursday, call 911.