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Red flag warning canceled for all Hawaiian islands

KEVIN KNODELL / KKNODELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Smoke is visible from a brushfire that briefly closed Maui Veterans Highway in Central Maui on Monday afternoon.
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KEVIN KNODELL / KKNODELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

Smoke is visible from a brushfire that briefly closed Maui Veterans Highway in Central Maui on Monday afternoon.

UPDATE: 3:20 p.m.

The red flag warning for Hawaii was canceled in a National Weather Service update sent at 3:04 p.m.

Prior to the cancellation, the fire weather warning was scheduled to expire at 6 p.m.

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The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for leeward areas of all islands today as high winds, dry conditions and low humidity combine to make conditions conducive for the spread of wildfires.

The warning is in effect from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“Although an area of showers is moving over the islands this morning, it has not brought significant rainfall to leeward areas,” the warning, issued early this morning, said. “Additionally, a drier air mass will move over the islands by this afternoon, bringing an increased risk for fire danger due to strong and gusty trade winds.”

The forecast calls for northeast winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts up to 50 mph; relative humidity as low as 40 percent; and high temperatures in the mid-80s.

“A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and dry fuels can contribute to extreme fire behavior. Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly,” the warning states.

NWS said outdoor burning is not recommended.

“High winds contribute to wildfire hazard. Delay activities that could throw off sparks until the wind dies down,” officials said.

A similar warning was issued on Aug. 8 when wildfires destroyed Lahaina, killing at least 99 people and destroying thousands of homes. This is the second statewide red flag warning issued for the state since Aug. 8.

On Monday, Maui firefighters doused a wildfire that closed Maui Veterans Highway for about two hours in the afternoon, and another wildland blaze was reported in the U.S. Army Pohakuloa Training Area off Daniel K. Inouye Highway on Hawaii island.

In addition to today’s red flag warning, a wind advisory remains in place for parts of the eastern part of the state.

The weather service said the advisory is in effect until 6 p.m. for portions of Kahoolawe, Lanai, Maui, Molokai and the Big Island, with northeast winds up to 35 mph and gusts over 50 mph expected.

“Winds this strong can tear off shingles, and can knock down holiday decorations and tree branches,” the advisory said. “Strong gusts can make it difficult to steer, especially for drivers of high profile vehicles.”

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For more information on protecting life and property from wildfires, visit the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization at hawaiiwildfire.org/home.

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