Much of Indiana under red flag warning: what that means to you

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INDIANAPOLIS — Much of Indiana woke up to a red flag warning Saturday. Here is what that means for you this weekend.

There will be a lot of wind

One of the criteria for a red flag warning to be issued is sustained wind speeds of 20 miles per hour or frequent gusts above 20 miles per hour for at least three hours. This means you may experience some strong winds throughout the day.

Weather Authority meteorologists forecast wind gusts of 35 to 40 miles per hour throughout the day. While you are driving throughout the day, you should slow down and make steering corrections when driving from wind-protected areas to unprotected areas.

The wind can also whip up fires, causing them to quickly burn out of control. You should avoid bonfires and outdoor burning during a red flag warning.

The day will be dry

Another criteria for red flag warnings to be issued is relative humidity values at or below 25 percent for at least three hours. In Indiana, 10-hour fuels such as small twigs, branches, grass and leaves, have a moisture content of 7-8 percent or less.

This is much like in the winter when there is low relitive humidity. You may experience increased dehydration and itchy, dry skin while working in the yard. Those with resperatory issues may also experience some problems.

The low humidity and dry fuels will also contribute to the increased risk of fires. If you are working on a project, make sure you watch out for any sparks, as they could inadvertently start a fire. This also goes for those who smoke. Make sure to properly extinguish and dispose of cigarettes, as they could catch fire.

Burn bans may be issued

Depending on the location in the state, a local or county-wide burn ban may be issued to prevent the risk of fires.

While many people burn their leaves in the fall, environmental management groups discourage all burning of waste. It is even illegal in many parts of the state, including in all of Marion County.

Open burning during a red flag warning can also create major issues, as the fire could quickly burn out of control. If you have a lot of yard waste that you need to get rid of, either wait until the red flag warning and any burn bans are lifted, or consider the alternatives.

This also means your grilling plans for the evening may have to be put on hold, especially if you use a charcoal grill.

Be extra aware

While there are many things to be on the lookout for during a red flag warning, one thing to definitely be aware of is smoke. If you see smoke of any kind, call it in just to be on the safe side.

The red flag warning in Indiana is active until 8 p.m. Saturday.

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