Wind gusts and low humidity complicate travel, create fire conditions

Wind sock | Source photo by MWCPhoto/iStock/Getty Images Plus; St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Strong winds are expected to affect travel and make for ideal fire conditions as gusts combine with high temperatures and low humidity Saturday.

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City has issued two weather advisories affecting Southern Utah, including a wind advisory forecasting gusts up to 50 mph in Iron and Beaver Counties and a red flag warning cautioning of fire weather in the St. George area.

Affected areas

TravelWise map showing areas subject to possible travel impairment. | Image courtesy of Utah Department of Transportation, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge.

The wind advisory affects the Great Salt Lake Desert and mountains, west central Utah and Southwest Utah including the cities of Wendover, Snowville, Delta, Fillmore, Beaver, Cedar City and Milford.

The red flag warning affects areas of the Mojave Desert below 3,500 feet, which includes St George and surrounding areas.

Wind advisory

Southerly winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph will develop late morning or midday Saturday, peaking midafternoon before diminishing during the evening.

Strong crosswinds may affect travel, especially for high profile vehicles and those towing trailers, on Interstate 80, highway 50, and state routes 21 and 56. Visibility may be reduced in areas of blowing dust. Wind sensitive operations may be impacted.

Below are the primary routes the southerly crosswinds are expected to impact during the forecast period:

  • I-80, Nevada to Salt Lake City.
  • I-70, over the San Rafael Swell to the south of US-191 junction.
  • US-6, Nevada border to Santaquin.
  • SR-21, west of Beaver.
  • SR-56, west of Cedar City.

Red flag fire warning

Shaded areas denote region subject to red flag warning. Map generated May 5, 2017 at 4:32 p.m. MDT | Image courtesy of the National Weather Service, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge.

Southwest winds of 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph and relative humidity lowering to near 10 percent will develop Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The combination of gusty winds, warm temperatures and low humidity will create the potential for rapid fire growth.

A fire last Saturday spread quickly along Devil’s Saddle in St. George thanks to strong winds and thick vegetation resulting from an especially wet spring.

Read more: Brush fire threatens homes along Devil’s Saddle

Prevent human-caused wildfires

Below are some tips that can help prevent human-caused fires.

  • Check and secure chain chains on vehicles, trucks, trailers and the like for both on-road and off-highway use to be sure they don’t drag and hit the ground. Chains against the ground cause sparks that ignite wildfires.
  • Enjoy campfires in permitted areas only, and be sure they are cold to the touch before leaving them. Stir the dirt with water until it is cold.
  • Heed fire restrictions that are in place – read more here.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when target shooting and avoid areas with cheatgrass and dry fuels.
  • Don’t smoke in fire risk areas except within an enclosed vehicle, camp trailer, building, developed recreation site or while stopped in an area at least 6 feet in diameter that is barren or cleared to mineral soil.
  • Don’t weld, cut or grind metal in fire risk areas.
  • Use fireworks only where permissible in your region. Fireworks safety includes being mindful of your surroundings; not using them near vegetated areas or where you could start structural fires; and putting spent fireworks into a bucket of water, not in a trashcan. If a firework does not ignite, leave it alone – don’t try to reignite it. Have a bucket of water or fire extinguisher nearby as well as a shovel before starting your fireworks.

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Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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