By MARY SELL, Alabama Daily News
The Alabama Forestry Commission says wildfire risks are higher starting today because of winds expected from Hurricane Ian and urges caution in any outdoor burning.
“Alabama will be seeing lower than normal relative humidity and stronger winds across the state, meaning conditions are favorable for wildfires to start easily, spread rapidly and be difficult to control,” forestry said in a statement. “Because Alabama is already experiencing dry conditions heading into the event, this critical weather behavior will elevate fire danger for the state.”
Hurricane Ian, now a Category 4, is expected to make landfall on Florida’s west coast later today.
Alabama is on the “dry side” of Ian’s expected path and gray skies, but no rain, are expected for much of the state through the weekend.
Fire red flag warnings, meaning the warm temperatures, low humidity and stronger winds increase risks, have been issued by the National Weather Service for Baldwin, Butler, Clarke, Choctaw, Conecuh, Covington, Crenshaw, Escambia, Mobile, Monroe, Washington, and Wilcox counties.
Fire weather watches were issued for Autauga, Barbour, Bibb, Blount, Bullock, Calhoun, Chambers, Cherokee, Chilton, Clay, Cleburne, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Jefferson, Lamar, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Marion, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Shelby, St. Clair, Sumter, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa and Walker counties.
According to forestry’s wildfire tracker, six small fires were burning this week. Since Jan. 1, 1,249 fires have burned more than 30,000 acres across the state.