Extremely dangerous fire conditions expected across eastern Colorado on Friday

DENVER – The National Weather Service in Boulder warns of “extremely dangerous” fire danger on Friday amid a major weather event to cap a week marked by windy, hot weather and wildfires in Colorado.

The wildfire threat will continue Thursday after several blazes on Wednesday, including one in Monte Vista that destroyed several structures. High temperatures are expected to be 10 to 15 degrees above normal on Thursday, according to the National Weather Service.

But on Friday red flag warnings will be in effect from 11:00 a.m. 9 p.m. from the foothills across the eastern plains.

Winds in the area are expected to be sustained between 25 and 40 miles per hour from the south, gusting between 40 and 60 mph. Winds will increase Friday morning and will be stronger in the afternoon through evening.

Humidity levels are expected to be between single digits and low teens which, combined with winds and temperatures near 80 degrees, will create ideal conditions for wildfires to spread quickly.

“Fuel conditions are still ripe with only limited and shallow greening in some areas. Unfortunately, should a fire break out it would be difficult, if not impossible, to control given these conditions which would last well into the early evening. », the NWS said on Thursdaywarning people to have duffel bags ready and that wind and dust could also lead to road closures, especially on the plains east of Denver and Fort Morgan.

Mike Nelson explains April 2022 drought conditions in Colorado

According to the NWS, there is also a risk of thunderstorms in the far northeast of the state Friday evening depending on conditions.

Meanwhile, the mountains will see snow Friday night through Saturday, with 3 to 8 inches possible.

It will be cooler in the plains on Saturday and Sunday, with a chance of rain in the second half of Sunday. But next week is expected to be dry and warm again, which the NWS said on Thursday “could bring improved fire weather back into the picture.”

Drought conditions have worsened in Colorado over the past week, according to the US Drought Monitorand a moderate drought returned to Denver, which had only been abnormally dry for the past two weeks.

US Drought Watch

Drought conditions in Colorado as of April 19, 2022.

As of this week, 87% of Colorado is experiencing moderate or worse drought. Thirty-three percent of the state is experiencing severe or worse drought conditions, while 4 percent of the state — in far southeast Colorado — is experiencing extreme or exceptional drought conditions.

The snowpack also has fell this week and is now at 85% of its median levels between 1991 and 2020.

Four river basins — Laramie and North Platte (95%), Upper Colorado Headwaters (93%), Gunnison (90%) and South Platte (90%) — were at or above 90% of median levels Thursday.

co_swepctnormal_update (20).png

USDA/NRCS

Median snowpack levels in Colorado river basins as of April 21, 2022.

The Yampa and White (87%), Arkansas (71%), Upper Rio Grande (71%) and San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan (68%) basins were all further below median levels.

Friday’s critical fire danger will also come the same day the state’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control delivers its 2022 wildfire outlook to Gov. Jared Polis and the public. which Denver7 will have in-depth coverage.

How climate change is contributing to Colorado’s fire years

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