Red Flag warning later today for Wichita and much of Kansas

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning this afternoon for Wichita and all of central and western Kansas as gusty winds and dry vegetation set the stage for “critical fire weather conditions.”

The warning is in effect from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. today, as south winds are expected to gust to about 30 miles an hour. Low humidity and dry vegetation are combining with gusty south winds to make the next couple of days especially vulnerable to large, rapidly spreading fires, weather service meteorologist Brad Ketcham said.

“No tossing of cigarette butts out on the ground today,” Ketcham said. “It’s kind of an early start to the fire season. That starts to happen, normally, in the late fall. But because we’re so dry…it’s going to come a little early this year.”

Today will be the 16th straight day without rain in Wichita, records show. Less than an inch of rain fell in the city in all of September. The .98 recorded was far below the September average of 3.14 inches for the city, records show.

For the year, Wichita has only had 17.22 inches of rain, which Ketcham said is more than 10 inches below normal for this time of year.

The red flag warning is expected to be re-issued for much of the state Wednesday as well.