Also serving the communities of De Luz, Rainbow, Camp Pendleton, Pala and Pauma

What is a Purple Flag Warning?

Julie Reeder


The excessive heat and weather conditions made Labor Day weekend, from Sunday to Monday, Sept. 4-5, Purple Flag Warning days, with the most dangerous heat conditions. Locally, Southwest Riverside County experiences Red Flag Days, which are very dangerous conditions, but Purple is more dangerous than Red.

The National Weather Service and the Purple Flag warning reported that a “very high heat risk will develop from the coast to the inland valleys Sunday through Monday.” There was some humidity and warnings in some areas for thunderstorms from the coast and into the valleys. The heat was reported to be “a dangerous situation for vulnerable populations, especially those that do not have access to air conditioning.”

A Red Flag Warning means high-risk for heat-related illnesses, especially with extended outdoor exposure, and for those who are heat sensitive and/or without effective cooling and/or adequate hydration.

These hot conditions also lead to more fires starting and rapid growth, such as the Sandia fire in De Luz and the Fairview fire in Hemet, which grew to almost 30,000 acres as of press time. With Purple Warnings, there is potential for large vertical plume growth with any new fires that develop, especially in the foothills and mountains.

In addition to the hot weather and possible fire starts, residents were warned of possible thunderstorms which could lead to heavy downpours, gusty and erratic winds and lightning. Dry lightning is also a concern as they lead to additional fire starts as well.

The National Weather Service issues Red and Purple Flag Warnings & Fire Weather Watches to alert fire departments of the onset, or possible onset, of critical weather and dry conditions that could lead to rapid or dramatic increases in wildfire activity.

Julie Reeder can be reached by email at [email protected].


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