Weather service plans fire-condition alerts
Starting today, the National Weather Service will warn the public and government agencies when weather conditions increase the risk of brush fires.
The weather service will issue "fire weather watches" and "red flag warnings" when the relative humidity, drought conditions and sustained wind speeds combine to increase the risk of wildfires.
The program is meant to alert land managers, emergency response agencies and the public of the increased dangers.
Derek Wroe, a lead forecaster with the weather service, said a fire weather watch means that conditions are right for a red flag warning to be issued in the next 12 to 72 hours, while the red flag warning means that weather conditions conducive to brush fires are occurring or will happen in 24 hours or less.
"The warning is not a guarantee that there will be fire starts, just that the conditions are right for fire starts," said Wroe, who worked with several government agencies to come up with the program.
Wroe said based on historical data, Hawaii can expect about four red flag warning days a year, but that the number will vary year to year.
The warnings are likely to be issued for leeward portions of the state.
The program was unveiled yesterday at the weather service's headquarters at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Honolulu Fire Department Capt. Terry Seelig said the new system will be helpful in alerting firefighters and the public to the increased risk of brush fires.
The warnings will help heighten awareness and encourage the public to be safe with fire and to call police if they see suspicious activity.