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Wildfires, flash flooding, and a hurricane (forecast video)

Parts of the western U.S. will get soaked today and tonight, while others remain dry and prone to wildfires. Some areas of the Northeast will bake in above-normal heat and humidity.

Fire and rain

SONAR Critical Events: Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

Some lanes of I-5 are still closed in southwestern Oregon due crews trying to get the Milepost 97 wildfire under control. Although the fire has been slowly spreading parallel to the highway, drivers may still be delayed by smoke and reduced visibility, in addition to slow traffic. As of this morning, the fire covers nearly 12,000 acres and is only 15 percent contained.

Red Flag Warnings are in place from north-central Montana to the Idaho border where there’s an elevated risk of wildfires developing. Breezy conditions, along with a mix of wet and dry thunderstorms producing frequent lightning, could spark new fires and spread them quickly.

Look for another summer day of scattered showers and thunderstorms across the Desert Southwest, the Rockies, the Great Plains and the western Gulf coast. The best chance for severe storms today or tonight, albeit a small one, is from Glasgow, Montana to eastern Wyoming and Rapid City, South Dakota, where a few isolated spots of large hail or gusty winds could develop on sections of I-90 and I-94.

Localized flash flooding is possible on the I-10 and I-40 corridors from Arizona into western New Mexico, including Phoenix and Tucson. The National Weather Service (NWS) has issued a Flash Flood Watch for these areas. Drivers may also run into areas of flash flooding in Louisiana and eastern Texas.

Northeast heat

SONAR Critical Events: Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

Above-normal heat hangs on for another day from New York City to Boston and southern Maine. Afternoon highs will range from the upper 80s to mid-90s, but it’ll feel like it’s 95° to 100° because of the humidity.

Showers and thunderstorms will be scattered from the lower Mississippi River Valley all the way to the Ohio River Valley and interior New England. Spotty severe storms could pop up from eastern Pennsylvania to upstate New York and Burlington, Vermont.

Tropical Update

SONAR Critical Events: Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

Hurricane Erick is now a Category 1 storm with sustained winds of 80 mph. Erick is centered about 1,000 miles southeast of Hilo, Hawaii. The storm is currently forecast to move just to the south of the big island of Hawaii sometime Friday, a little earlier than previously forecast. It will probably weaken back to a tropical storm by then, but high surf, heavy rain and gusty winds are possible on the big island.

SONAR Critical Events: Tuesday, July 30, 2019.

Right behind Erick is Tropical Storm Flossie, which will likely become a hurricane tonight or Wednesday. Flossie may come much closer to the Hawaiian islands, but probably not until next week. For now, it’s only a concern for ocean freighters.

Have a great day, everyone, and be careful out there!

Nick Austin

Nick is a meteorologist with 20 years of forecasting and broadcasting experience. He was nominated for a Midsouth Emmy for his coverage during a 2008 western Tennessee tornado outbreak. He received his Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Florida State University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Management from the Georgia Tech. Nick is a member of the American Meteorological Society and National Weather Association. As a member of the weather team at WBBJ-TV in Jackson, Tennessee, Nick was nominated for a Mid-South Emmy for live coverage of a major tornado outbreak in February 2008. As part of the weather team at WRCB-TV in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Nick shared the Chattanooga Times-Free Press Best of the Best award for “Best Weather Team” eight consecutive years.