Increased wildfire behavior concerns through Janaury 22 2009

Fire danger has increased across Deep South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley with the region under the influence of a very dry northwest upper flow.  Deep South Texas lies in between a deep cold upper low pressure trough across the eastern half of the country with highly amplified upper ridging across the Intermountain West.  This is producing a dry northwest flow of air across all of Texas which translates low dew points to the surface.  Over the last two days, relative humidity levels have been unprecedentedly low ranging from the single digits to the teens on Monday and 15 to 25 percent Tuesday.  Not much improvement is anticipated Wednesday with values of 15 to 25 percent across the Western two-thirds and 25 to 50 percent across the coastal regions.  Slight improvement is anticipated Thursday as Southeast winds return increasing humidity levels near normal conditions. Daytime humidity levels recover in the range of 30 to 40 percent across the West and 40 to 55 percent throughout the East.  The only saving grace will be light and variable Wednesday as surface high pressure over the Valley shifts slowly east.  As Southeast winds return Thursday winds start off light but should increase late in the afternoon ranging from 10 to 20 mph with the strongest winds across the Eastern counties of Cameron, Willacy and Kenedy Counties.

The Rio Grande Valley has been dry with little rain over the last several weeks.  Area vegetation, mainly grasses, are cured with low fuel moisture values.  Wildfires have been noted on Monday and Tuesday with a 2500 acre fire near the Moorefield Air Base in Hidalgo county and a 1300 acre blaze in Eastern Starr County near Ricon.  These fires exhibited considerable growth and spread due to the low humidity and very dry fuels.   Conditions remain ripe for additional wildfires the next few days and possibly for the remainder of the week.  Residents of Deep South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley should remain extra vigilant and exercise extreme caution concerning any fire activities.   For additional information see the Rangeland Fire Discussion.


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