Windy + dry conditions = elevated fire danger.
Living in Colorado, especially recently, we're no strangers to dry conditions. I mean, we do live in a high desert climate so that's expected, but sometimes, it's too dry. What I mean by "too dry" is that something as simple as throwing your cigarette out of your car window could start a fire that grows into a massive wildfire. And we're not being dramatic. Most of the wildfires that start in Colorado are human-caused.
Right now, for the first time in a very long time, extreme drought is occurring in some places of Colorado.
Extreme drought is level 4 of 5 in regard to drought conditions put out by the U.S. Drought Monitor. As of right now, 11 percent of Colorado is under extreme drought and over 75 percent is some level of drought. Unfortunately, in the near term, there's not much rain in the forecast but something that could make things worse is in the forecast.
Winds will really begin to pick up in the afternoon hours on Thursday and will continue to be gusty into the nighttime hours. Winds on Thursday could gust up to 40 mph for some areas. In the Denver Metro expect 10-20 mph winds with gusts up to 35 mph or so.
Wind gusts will frequently hit 40-50 mph today across the Plains.— Andy Stein (@AndySteinWx) May 7, 2020
Coupled with a very dry atmosphere and dry vegetation, we have HIGH fire danger today as well.
Hold onto your...well, everything! #Colorado #Weather #COwx #Denver #Wind #RedFlagWarning pic.twitter.com/ny5tH7UEab
With severe and extreme drought conditions covering more than 40 percent of Colorado currently, fire fuels such as dry grasses and timber will easily ignite if sparked. Then, add in the wind, any fires that do start will have the potential to spread very quickly.
Critical fire danger conditions Thursday, with a Red Flag Warning in effect for portions of the Front Range & Palmer Divide. Strong, gusty winds up to 40 mph & low humidity down to around 10%. Do not burn anything outdoors Thursday. Any fires that start may spread quickly! #COwx pic.twitter.com/YPQwWmqQC0— NWS Boulder (@NWSBoulder) May 6, 2020
- Outdoor burning of any kind is strongly discouraged
- Do not throw cigarettes out the window
- Avoid creating sparks/operating machinery in dry grasses
Denver, the northern mountains, and the northeastern Plains are excluded from any fire danger advisories right now because those locations have seen enough rain and moisture for fire danger to not be elevated. It will still be dry and windy but the conditions that fires need to spread rapidly won't be as enough to cause major concerns.
This wind is coming with a cool front and that will bring temperatures down just a bit. Thursday highs will be in the upper 60s and Fridays high will be in the upper 50s to lower 60s. Friday morning, it may be cold enough to have a frost occur.
It's almost Mother's Day. Almost. That's the date the Coloradans use to signify when it is okay to plant your outdoor gardens. I know a lot of folks have already done that, so this applies to you. Take care of your outdoor plants if they are sensitive to the cold.
A potential frost/freeze could occur Friday morning.— Andy Stein (@AndySteinWx) May 6, 2020
Could happen a couple of times between now and Sunday so pay attention to temperatures and your outdoor plants! #Colorado #COwx #Frost #Freeze pic.twitter.com/rHpT7XbMEW
Our average date of the last freeze is May 4. We saw a temperature reading of 30 degrees on the morning of May 5 so that will go down as our last freeze date until another sub-32-degree reading happens.
Overall, our temperatures will be right on par with what is normally expected this time of the year.