TAMPA, Fla. — A Red Flag Warning is in place from 2-7 p.m. on Wednesday for much of the Tampa Bay area.
That means warm temperatures, low humidity and winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger, according to the National Weather Service.
The following counties are included in the warning:
- Inland Citrus
- Inland Manatee
- Inland Pasco
- Inland Sarasota
NWS offers these tips for areas under a Red Flag Warning.
- If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a weighted metal cover, with holes no larger than 3/4 of an inch.
- Do not throw cigarettes or matches out of a moving vehicle. They may ignite dry grass on the side of the road and become a wildfire.
- Extinguish all outdoor fires properly. Drown fires with plenty of water and stir to make sure everything is cold to the touch. Dunk charcoal in water until cold. Do not throw live charcoal on the ground and leave it.
- Never leave a fire unattended. Sparks or embers can blow into leaves or grass, ignite a fire, and quickly spread.
Fire season in Florida typically begins around April until June. However, because of dryer conditions this year, fires have the potential to pack more pressure, according to the National Weather Service in Tampa Bay.
“Comparing it to last year we’re at least an inch below what we had as far as rainfall totals across the area," Jennifer Hubbard, a Senior Forecaster for the NWS in Tampa Bay, said.
Hubbard said this year, most of the area is facing moderate drought conditions with 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches below the normal rainfall level. That’s on top of the La Niña weather pattern which Hubbard adds, brings in a dryer and warmer winter and spring season.
“Because it is drier this year... You might see more fire activity through the next couple of months... It is something that we're always keeping an eye on," Hubbard said.
Jay Traina with Tampa Fire Rescue told ABC Action News there are a few things people should keep in mind to reduce the risk of fires.
“If you’re a smoker, please don’t throw it out the window while you’re driving, discard it properly. If you’re looking to have a barbecue make sure you have a good water source or fire extinguisher in hand. If you’re driving and want to park over grass, don’t park over tall grass that will start a fire," Traina said.
Hubbard added these tips are especially important during a Red Flag Warning because that’s when the risk of fire danger is at its peak.
Very dry conditions are expected to continue over the next few days resulting in elevated fire weather danger! Keep these safety tips in mind!! 🔥#FLwx pic.twitter.com/iCkPe6O6bG— NWS Tampa Bay (@NWSTampaBay) March 28, 2022