Another day of high fire danger across southeast Colorado, risk continues through Tuesday
Sunday marks the fourth consecutive day of red flag warnings for southeast Colorado, and the fifth day over the past six for high fire danger.
The National Weather Service has issue a red flag warning for most counties in the southeast, which is expected to be in place from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The San Luis Valley is also under a warning, along with front range/Denver metro area counties.
High temperatures return to the 70s across the region, while wind gusts up to 40 miles per hour predicted. Relative humidity in the low teens is expected in the San Luis Valley, and below 10 percent in Kiowa County.
Red flag conditions extend into New Mexico, Texas, and the Oklahoma panhandle.
A fire weather watch is in place for Monday for a similar area. Wind gusts up to 70 mph are predicted for the San Luis Valley. Portions of the southeast also have a fire weather watch Tuesday.
Heavy snow over the winter months has eliminated drought conditions in western Colorado, while the eastern plains remain in mainly in moderate drought. The southeast area, from southeast Cheyenne County to southeast Las Animas County, is in severe drought or worse. Portions of Kiowa, Prowers, Baca, and Las Animas counties are in extreme conditions. Much of southern Baca County is in exceptional drought, the worst drought category. That area has been expanding in recent weeks.
In addition to alerts for fire conditions, high wind watches are in effect for Monday and Tuesday for parts of southeast Colorado and the San Luis Valley. The valley can look for gusts up to 70 mph, while neighboring mountain areas may see gusts as high as 80 mph.
Tuesday, the southern Interstate 25 corridor and southeast plains can look for gusts up to 65 mph.
Blowing dust, which could reduce visibility and cause breathing issues, will be possible Monday and Tuesday.
The NWS offers a number of safety tips for wildfire safety, including:
- Properly discard cigarettes
- Keep vehicles off of dry gras
- Avoid activities with open flames or sparks
- Avoid power equipment which created sparks
- Obey burn local bans on burning
- Leave the area if fire or smoke is headed your way
- Evacuate if ordered to do so by local officials
Since Thursday, several fires have been reported in southeast Colorado, including the 403 Fire in Teller and Park counties which has burned more that 1,300 acres. Containment was around 25 percent Saturday evening, while growth had slowed.
A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now, or will shortly. A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.
A fire weather watch means that critical fire weather conditions are forecast to occur. Watch for later forecasts and possible red flag warnings.