Sixth consecutive day of wind, fire danger in southern Colorado
Seven of the past eight days have seen high fire danger in southern Colorado, with the trend continuing Tuesday before a slight reprieve.
While high temperatures cool to the 50s Tuesday, the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for high fire danger. The warning comes into effect at 8:00 a.m. and is expected to continue through 8:00 p.m. Wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour are predicted, along with relative humidity falling to around 10 percent.
Winds are also expected to produce blowing dust, which could reduce visibility and cause breathing difficulty.
The warning covers the southeast quadrant of the state, with much of the same area under high wind watches or warnings.
Overnight, low temperatures in the teens are forecast, while highs in the 40s are predicted for Wednesday, along with substantially weaker wind.
The break will be brief, as highs in the 70s are expected to return Friday through at least the weekend.
Over the past eight days, only last Wednesday avoided a red flag warning in the southern portion of the state.
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.
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
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.