Wildfire threat prompts Red Flag Warning amid unseasonably dry conditions

Anthony Maenza
York Dispatch

Unseasonably warm, dry conditions across York County and the East Coast in general led the National Weather Service to issue a red flag warning Wednesday about significant wildfire risks.

"Everything on the ground is dry enough that it is beginning to cause a concern," said NWS meteorologist Craig Evanego.

Indeed, firefighters in New Jersey are currently battling a fire that has swept across 6 square miles of the Pine Barrens as of Wednesday afternoon. Local authorities fear similar fires breaking out across central Pennsylvania — a risk that's expected to continue through the weekend.

A threat of wildfire prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Red Flag Warning Wednesday in Pennsylvania.

“We’re looking at near record warmth, and it will stay dry each of the next couple of afternoons,” Evanego said. “We’re going to have low enough relative humidity, which is part of the criteria. I think the one thing that may be lacking are the winds. We’re expecting wind to be less gusty Thursday and Friday. We’ll have the dry air and the dry fuels, but we may not quite have the wind the two days to meet the red flag warning criteria.” 

Dry conditions will continue Thursday and Friday, which will keep fire dangers high, but winds may be reduced enough that the red flag warning would come down, Evanego said. 

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Winds between 10 and 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph were expected Wednesday with relative humidity between 25% and 35% and temperatures in the 80s, which prompted a fire weather watch to be issued. That was replaced by the red flag warning Wednesday afternoon 

Burn bans were put in place in West Manchester Township, Windsor Township and Felton on Wednesday because of the threat. 

Any fires that develop may quickly get out of control and become difficult to contain, the weather service said. Outdoor burning of any kind is not recommended. 

Wednesday’s high in York County was forecast to be near 83 with wind gusts as high as 24 mph. Wednesday’s low will be near 56. 

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Thursday will see a high near 86 with a low of 54 Thursday night. Friday’s high will be near 87 with a low of 59. 

There will be a chance of rain over the weekend. There is a 50% chance of rain Saturday, with thunderstorms possible after 2 p.m. Otherwise, it will be partly sunny with a high near 78. 

There is a 30% chance of showers and thunderstorms before 8 p.m. Saturday night. Shower chances extend from 8 p.m. through 2 a.m. Otherwise, it will be mostly cloudy with a low around 59. 

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There is a 60% chance of showers and thunderstorms after 2 p.m. Sunday. Otherwise, it will be mostly cloudy with a high near 77. 

The chance of rain continues into Sunday night with a low temperature around 48 degrees. 

Monday will be mostly sunny and breezy with a high near 65 degrees with a 30% chance of rain. Monday’s low is expected to be around 45 degrees.