Hawaii's first-ever red flag warning

Lawrence Lunasco
Lawrence Lunasco

By Duane Shimogawa - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The National Weather Service issued Hawaii's first-ever Red Flag Warning this week.

But what does this mean?

A Red Flag Warning means the current weather conditions combined with the already dry landscape create the perfect combination for fires.

Lawrence Lunasco has lived in Waialua for around 50 years. He's seen more than his share of close calls.

"Every time this time of the year, it's the same situation and Dole, they don't maintain any fire breaks, so whenever there's a fire in their fields, we gotta worry," Lunasco said.

Meteorologists say the conditions include strong winds, low humidity and warm temperatures.

The National Weather Service saw these conditions Wednesday and issued a Red Flag Warning from six in the morning to six at night.

"There was actually nothing in place," Meteorologist Eric Lau said. "It's just something that we felt that we needed to implement, so we could help land managers, emergency personnel, fire departments, give them a heads up that there's going to be potential for fire danger behavior."

Meteorologists say Red Flag Warnings are meant to alert fire officials, but people need to become familiar with the term as well.

"If it's anything like last year, I'm really concerned because my house was pretty much in danger last year, so I dunno, this year might be even worse," Lunasco said.

Meteorologists say Red Flag Warnings are usually issued for the Leeward sides of the islands, where Lunasco lives.

"I was upset because my house was open, we couldn't come home to lock it up, my wife was cleaning the house 2-3 weeks with the smell," Lunasco said.

Officials also say late July to October is when most warnings happen.

"The public having this information should be wary of their surroundings and to make not of any suspicious activity, to have them call fire or police right away," Lau said.

It's a warning that helps both firefighters and people prepare.

Red Flag Warnings have been common in some mainland states for many years, including California, Washington, Montana and Colorado.