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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/18/2011

High wind and fire weather watches Saturday

By Jason Samenow

The prospect of bone dry conditions and howling winds Saturday have prompted the National Weather Service (NWS) to post both a high wind and fire weather watch for the region.

How windy will it be? NWS indicates gusts as high as 60 mph are possible Saturday, with the highest readings along the mountain ridges to our west. In the immediate metro region, peak winds are more likely to be in the 45-50 mph range. Winds will probably be sustained around 20-30 mph, from the northwest. Isolated power outages cannot be ruled out and such winds can cause air travel delays. If you have loose items outside (e.g. lawn furniture), you may want to secure them or bring them inside. The watch is in effect from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

How dry will it be? The relative humidity may drop to near or below 20 percent tomorrow afternoon with dew points in the low teens.

What's the fire weather watch all about? A fire weather watch is issued when conditions - i.e. low humidity and high winds - are expected that will make it possible for fire to spread rapidly. TBD reported dry conditions earlier this week helped spark and spread at least 13 fires in Maryland, mainly in rural areas. Fires were also reported in western, central and southeast Virginia according to the Roanoke Timesand Richmond Times Dispatch. The Storm Prediction Center indicates the fire risk tomorrow is "critical" in central Virginia through north central North Carolina.

By Jason Samenow  | February 18, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Latest, Wind  
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Please, please please dispose of smoking materials properly. That butt you toss could start a big fire.

Posted by: FIREDRAGON47 | February 18, 2011 12:26 PM | Report abuse

I beginning to DISLIKE INTENSELY these dratted high-wind episodes!!! Even when there's no rain.

Last time it happened...Monday evening or so...I had at least SIX power disruptions while I was trying to watch the TV. The whole neighborhood got plunged into darkness for up to three minutes; when the power came back on each time I had to wait up to ten minutes for the cable box to reset! Even though the disruptions are relatively minor [compared to what PEPCO folks go through] they're still a real nuisance...another anti-Bombo move by the much-unneeded bad-weather crowd. Plus tomorrow and Sunday are big dance evenings...this timing is getting atrocious!

I'm in the Dominion service area...just wondering what the PEPCO crowd had to go through. In addition I can't seem to remember quite as many power interruptions during past winters, even during windy weather. Not looking forward to next month, as March is rather notorious for windy spells.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | February 18, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

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