A Red Flag Warning has been hoisted for Central and Southern New England by the government, indicating explosive fire growth conditions today, particularly with regard to brush fires. Westerly wind gusts have diminished to no higher than 45 mph today, down from the 60 mph gusts of Wednesday evening, and while this isn’t enough for much damage aside from a tree limb or branch that may knock out power to a few, the wind is plenty strong enough to fan the flames of any brush fire that develops. With ample dry fuel – last year’s dead and dried brush and leaves littering the ground – and no leaves on the trees to provide shade to the forest and field floors, dry air and a gusty wind have plenty of help for fires to grow. Of course, for a fire to start you need a spark, and there are two major ignition sources in New England, both caused by humans: cigarettes tossed aside without being fully extinguished, and poorly managed brush fires that get out of control. So…the way we all can help to curb fire potential is to be aware and careful when it comes to anything capable of causing a spark. On the bright side – literally and figuratively – the dry air is ensuring plentiful sunshine across New England, helping to offset a wind chill that never exceeds 40 degrees. Although the wind subsides considerably Thursday night, a clear sky and dry air will mean temperatures dropping into the 20s ahead of a cool Friday...made cool not only by the air in place, but the lack of sunshine as clouds increase ahead of the next disturbance. Friday evening and night brings a shot of milder air aloft and the clash with antecedent cold will result in rain and snow showers, with the snow accumulating a couple of inches in the mountains of Northern New England before melting quickly Saturday when mild air takes over and many towns jump into the 60s with sun! Sunday may be a bit cooler, but still pleasant ahead of an increased chance of showers on several days next week in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.