Red flag warning Tuesday first of the year
The red flag warning issued by the National Weather Service Tuesday was the first of the year for Stutsman County, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator.
The red flag warning was in effect from noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday.
The warning triggered the Stutsman County Open Burning Ordinance burning restrictions that outlaws all outdoor burning in Stutsman County, Bergquist said. The ordinance makes it a Class B misdemeanor to have an outdoor fire anywhere in Stutsman County when the fire danger is high or very high or if a red flag warning has been issued.
The ordinance applies to all of Stutsman County except the city of Jamestown which has its own burn-related ordinance.
"Today (Tuesday) we had a moderate fire danger rating but the red flag warning trumps that," Bergquist said. "We haven't seen high or very high fire danger indexes since May."
Very high fire danger indexes caused the burn ban to go into effect on April 17 and 19 and on May 2 this spring, he said.
The current forecast for the rest of this week likely does not include another red flag warning, according to Megan Jones, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Bismarck.
"The winds are not forecast to be as strong for the rest of the week," she said. "It is still going to be breezy because, after all, this is North Dakota."
Red flag warnings are issued when high winds and low relative humidities create conditions where a fire can spread rapidly.
Jones said the forecast does include warm and dry weather for the remainder of the week which Bergquist said could prompt the fire danger index to climb later in the week. If the fire danger reaches high or very high, the burn ban would go into effect again.
The warm dry weather comes near the one-year anniversary of a record-setting snowstorm that buried the Jamestown area with nearly 2 feet of snow on Oct. 10-11 last year, according to Bergquist.
"A year ago, it was so wet we probably couldn't have struck a match to start a fire," he said. "This year we are talking about grass fire conditions."
Grass fires have not been a major problem this fall. One fire was reported on Sept. 22 near Woodworth and units of the Jamestown Rural Fire Department responded to a grass fire south of Jamestown Tuesday afternoon that reportedly burned less than half an acre, according to the Stutsman County Communications Center.
Jones said the extended forecast looking ahead to next week includes the chance of some precipitation.
"I'm just happy to not be thinking of a middle of October blizzard this year," she said.