Texas Gets ‘Extreme’ Warning at US Border

National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologists have issued an “extreme” weather warning for far western Texas at the United States-Mexico border on Wednesday morning.

Weather conditions are ideal for “extreme fire behavior,” according to an NWS report, prompting meteorologists to issue a red flag warning for the El Paso, Texas, region. The conditions will be at their worst on Thursday, as a strong pressure system moves south from Colorado into New Mexico and Texas.

Red flag warnings have been issued for all three states. Strong winds, low humidity and high temperatures are typically the reasons behind a red flag warning.

“West-southwest winds with sustained speeds of 30 to 40 mph and peak gusts around 55 mph combined with very low relative humidity values will lead to critical fire weather conditions and the risk of rapid fire start and spread through much of the daytime hours Thursday,” the NWS said.

“Fuel moisture had dried rapidly this month, especially along the desert lowlands, due to preexisting drought status and lack of recent precipitation. Winds subsiding overnight into Friday morning, likely picking back up again Friday and Saturday afternoons.”

The NWS added that “any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly.”

NWS meteorologist Luke Rogers told Newsweek that the NWS typically issues the most red flag warnings in the El Paso area during April and May. He said average temperatures in El Paso are in the low to mid-80s.

“Being in the desert southwest, it’s very, very dry, so our concerns with regards to tomorrow are the very dry humidity values,” he said.

Slightly above-average winter precipitation has delayed fuels from drying out, but Rogers said the region is now starting to see dry conditions.

Texas Gets 'Extreme' Warning at US Border
Smoke billows over a road during the Smokehouse Creek fire on February 27 in the Texas panhandle. NWS meteorologists issued an “extreme” weather warning for far western Texas on April 24.


In addition to a red flag warning, a high wind warning, wind advisory, high wind watch, fire weather watch, and hazardous weather outlook were also issued in the El Paso region.

“Outdoor burning is not recommended,” the NWS said. “A Red Flag Warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.”

Blowing dust also is expected in the region on Thursday, Rogers said.

On Tuesday, special weather statements were issued for 10 states in the U.S. Northeast for similar conditions, although the alert wasn’t elevated to a red flag warning. The region retained lots of moisture from a wet winter, limiting fire access to dry fuels, which kept the alert from becoming a red flag warning.