High Fire Danger as temperatures soar Wednesday

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday may 2 2018 red flag warning fire danger
With the increase in temperature comes an increase in brush fire risk.

Red Flag Warnings Issued

Most of the Finger Lakes region is under a “Red Flag Warning” for Wednesday, indicating a high risk for brush fires.

There are four major factors that go into making a high fire danger day. All four will be present today.

First, with our delayed onset of true Spring, there is still a lot of dead vegetation that is suitable fuel for fires. Very little greening up has occurred so far.

Second, relative humidity values will be very low, between 20-40%, which helps promote fire growth and dry fuel.

Next, gusty winds from the southwest today will reach 30-35 mph. Any fires that spark will be rapidly spread by the winds.

These three factors have been in play for a number of days now, but today, we add the final piece: very warm temperatures.

High temperatures today will reach at least 80 degrees across most of the region. The hot temperatures will also promote fire growth and will make fighting fires more difficult.

It is very important to use caution today. Open burning remains illegal in New York for another two weeks. Wayward sparks or cigarette butts can easily ignite rapidly growing fires.

The fire danger will decrease this evening as temperatures fall and humidity values rise.

Thunderstorms Move In Overnight

The focus will quickly turn from fires to thunderstorms this evening. The thunderstorm threat will continue into Thursday and possibly Friday as well.

Multiple rounds of scattered thunderstorms are expected during this time. As things currently look, the thunderstorms will mostly be small, scattered cells and not a widespread, significant event.

Still, a few of these cells could be capable of some gusty winds, especially Thursday afternoon and evening. There is a non-zero tornado threat as well, but I find it unlikely that we will see any tornadic activity at this time.

The best chances for thunderstorms will be Wednesday night from about 11 pm to 3 am, Thursday morning, Thursday early afternoon, Thursday evening-overnight, and possibly Friday evening.

Thursday afternoon and evening will be the main time to watch. If enough sun comes out between the morning showers and storms and the afternoon, the severe threat could be a little more robust. This is something I will be watching closely, of course.

There could be some locally heavy rain as well, especially considering multiple waves of showers and storms are possible. Flash flooding is not a major concern at this time though.

Weekend Preview

A cold front will move through the region later Friday, bringing an end to the thunderstorms and rain.

High pressure will then build in for the weekend, resulting in some pleasant, seasonable weather.

Saturday is currently looking quite sunny. Some clouds will then move in for Sunday.

The only chance for precipitation will come late Sunday when a few stray showers may drift into the region.

Temperatures will be near normal for early May. Temperatures will be in the mid to upper 60s Saturday with low and mid 60s on Sunday.

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Meteorologist Drew Montreuil
Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:
Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). When not forecasting, he can be found working at the local library, making goat milk soap, running until his legs burn, or playing with his three young boys.