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  • Writer's pictureWildfire Aware

What is the difference between a Red Flag Watch and Warning?


It's easy to get confused about what a Red Flag Watch and a Red Flag Warning means. Is it an emergency? Should you stay indoors? Don’t worry, we got you covered! Let’s dive into the difference between these two alerts so you can be prepared.


What is a Red Flag Watch?

A red flag watch is issued when conditions are favorable for extreme wildfire activity. Conditions that warrant a red flag watch include low humidity levels, high winds, and dry vegetation. During this time, fire-prone areas are kept under close surveillance. Additionally, firefighters may take preventive measures such as clearing brush or increasing staffing levels in order to prepare for any potential fires that could start in the area.


What is a Red Flag Warning?

A red flag warning is issued when conditions are even more severe than those outlined in the red flag watch. A red flag warning is much more serious due to an increased chance of extreme fire behavior that could lead to rapid spread of any fires that start in the area. During this time, residents should take extra caution and avoid activities that could spark fires like using fireworks or burning off debris. It’s also important to pay close attention to local news sources for updates on evacuation notices or other safety measures related to the extreme fire risk.


Red flag watches and warnings are important indicators of extreme weather conditions related to wildfires. Knowing the difference between these two alerts can help keep you safe during times of heightened risk by helping you understand what precautions need to be taken at each stage. Keep an eye out for these warnings and make sure you know how to respond if your area is affected by either one!



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