High fire danger continues despite cooler temperatures, winter weather advisory for parts of Colorado

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Published Saturday, October 19, 2019
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by Chris Sorensen

The fire risk that began Friday with a red flag warning across much of southeast Colorado's plains continues through the weekend.

A red flag warning for high fire danger is in effect from noon to 8:00 p.m. Saturday for the San Luis Valley, stretching east to El Paso and western Las Animas counties. Wind gusts to 45 miles per hour are expected, along with relative humidity falling below 15 percent.

A small portion of western Colorado around Nucla is also under a red flag warning.

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MAP Red flag warning and fire weather watch areas for October 19, 2019 - NWS
Red flag warning and fire weather watch areas for October 19, 2019. Courtesy NWS

Temperatures in the valley are expected to be in the 50s, while 60s will prevail further east.

The area is also under a fire weather watch for late Sunday morning through the evening hours. Another red flag warning is likely to be issued.

Other eastern Colorado counties are under a fire weather watch for Sunday. Strong winds following a cold front are expected to bring high fire danger to grasslands as strong winds and low relative humidity blankets the southeast plains. Gusts up to 40 miles per hour and relative humidity dropping to 16 percent are forecast for all or portions of Douglas, Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Elbert, Lincoln, Kit Carson, Cheyenne, Kiowa, Prowers, Las Animas, Bent, Otero, Crowley and Pueblo counties, in addition to the area covered by Saturday's red flag warning.

Outdoor buring and other activities that could spark a fire are strongly discouraged through the weekend.

In other parts of Colorado, a winter weather advisory will be in effect from 9:00 p.m. Saturday through noon Sunday. The mountains of northern and central Colorado can look for 4-8 inches of new snow, with some higher elevations receiving as much a foot of snow. Wind gusts up to 50 mph are also predicted.

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MAP Winter weather advisory and red flag warning for October 19, 2019 - NWS
Winter weather advisory and red flag warning for October 19, 2019. Courtesy NWS

The National Weather Service says travel could be difficult in those areas under the advisory. Blowing snow can reduce visibility, while roads may become icy or snow-packed.

Fire weather conditions

According to the NWS, 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.

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