Red Flag Warning for thunderstorms, wildfire risk in Cascades

Aug 25, 2023, 9:45 AM | Updated: 9:51 am

red flag wildfire...

Smoke and haze blankets the Cascades around the base of Mount Rainier on September 21, 2020 in Washington State. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The National Weather Service (NWS) is warning of the potential for new, volatile wildfires in the Central and South Cascades, citing dry, warm weather and the chance for thunderstorms Friday.

NWS meteorologist Dana Felton said there may be perfect conditions for a fire to start and grow quickly.

More on Washington wildfires: North Cascades Highway reopens, Sourdough fire to burn ‘many more weeks’

“Because of the dry conditions today and windy and low humidity, and then tomorrow, we have that chance of a thunderstorm,” Felton said. “It means that the conditions are right if we get all the variables for fires to start and rapidly grow.”

Felton said he only expects a 20% chance of thunderstorms Friday, but other conditions, like a lack of humidity and persistent heat, will still increase the risk of a wildfire. The lowlands are not expected to see much impact unless wind and lightning are worse than anticipated, forecasters said.

But temperatures in the Seattle-Tacoma area are expected to continue rising, “well into the 80s and we may even touch 90 over the weekend,” Felton said. The peak is forecast for Sunday, where the existing daily high record temperature in Seattle is 88 degrees.

The Red Flag Warning applies to portions of the west slopes and extends from just south of Gold Bar, Washington, to Lane County, Oregon.

The warning lasts until 5 p.m. Friday in Western Washington. But meteorologists said that could be extended if conditions continue to present a critical threat of wildfires. The warning is scheduled to expire at 11 p.m. in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

Officials are urging the public to take extra precautions to limit fire growth, like proper disposal of cigarette butts and keeping running cars away from dry grass.

The air quality is expected to drop in the Puget Sound region as winds shift to the northeast bringing wildfire smoke from wildfires burning in Canada and the North Cascades.

According to the Seattle Air Quality forecast, the air quality is going to be moderate and unhealthy for sensitive groups Friday and unhealthy Saturday. Relief from the smoke will come next week, with the remaining smoke expected to be blown away by Tuesday.

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Red Flag Warning for thunderstorms, wildfire risk in Cascades