Get a Red Flag Warning alert on your phone? Here’s what that means

Tuesday, people who have opted in to receive public alerts through Thurston Community Alert received text messages announcing a Red Flag Warning that will last through Wednesday at 11 p.m. That warning, though, doesn’t apply to most of Thurston County.

The warning was originally issued by the National Weather Service for the west slopes of the Central Cascades, “generally above 1,500 feet,” according to the NWS website. The region it impacts is a “Fire Weather Zone” that includes a small piece of south Thurston County and large areas of east Lewis and Pierce counties, along with other areas that stretch north.

NWS red flag warning.png
The National Weather Service issued a Red Flag Warning for an area that touches Thurston County, which prompted an alert to be sent through the Thurston Community Alert system. Courtesy NWS

According to the NWS website, a Red Flag Warning indicates “warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds are expected to combine to produce an increased risk of fire danger.”

Vivian Eason, Emergency Management Coordinator for Thurston County, confirmed this essentially means conditions are ripe for fires to start and spread quickly.

Eason told The Olympian these alerts are sent automatically through the system if the area is impacted in any way. It’s one type of alert people who subscribe to Thurston Community Alert text messages can opt to receive. Others include flood notifications, evacuation alerts, and Amber Alerts.

She advises recipients of Red Flag Warning alerts to look at the National Weather Service’s website and Thurston County Emergency Management’s social media pages for more specific information on the warnings. Another option, she said, is to call emergency management at 360-867-2800.

Sara Gentzler joined The Olympian in June 2019. She primarily covers Thurston County government and its courts, as well as breaking news. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Creighton University.