Colorado weather: High fire danger this weekend

Be wary, campers: this weekend could feature especially high fire danger.

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) has put much of Colorado as either having elevated or critical fire weather conditions this weekend, largely owing to a combination of hot temperatures and windy weather expected across most of the state on both Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, the SPC forecast has much of eastern Colorado under either elevated or critical fire conditions. Temperatures are forecast to spike into the 80s and 90s across eastern and southern Colorado, but it’ll be the winds that’ll be the primary cause for worry this weekend. Winds gusting up to 40 mph on Saturday and perhaps as high as 50 mph on Sunday could spike fire danger both days.

Relative humidity values, a measure of the amount of moisture in the atmosphere, are expected to be very low this weekend. That lack of moisture could help spark fires, especially across southeastern Colorado, where conditions are expected to be the hottest and windiest.

It appears Sunday could be the most dangerous fire weather day, with the driest and windiest weather expected over the back half of the weekend. While most of the state will have some level of fire danger, the worst of it, again, is expected to be across southern and eastern Colorado.

Dry thunderstorms could also be of concern this weekend. When storms produce lightning and wind but little to no rainfall, those storms can often spark wildfires. This weekend’s set up, with unusually dry air at the surface but instability at higher levels of the atmosphere, lends to a potential danger for those dry thunderstorms.

In anticipation of the increased fire danger, the National Weather Service office in Pueblo has issued fire weather watches for this weekend for much of southeastern Colorado, including Colorado Springs.

— NWS Pueblo (@NWSPueblo) June 5, 2020

Parts of the San Luis Valley and southwestern Colorado are also in the SPC’s increased fire danger category on Saturday as well.

Varying fire restrictions are already in place across a wide swath of Colorado, including Gilpin, Douglas, Park, Clear Creek, Boulder, Jefferson and Arapahoe Counties. That list could expand, and fire restrictions could increase due to this weekend’s forecast.

A growing drought has dried out soils and vegetation across the state, creating part of the background for the increased fire danger this weekend. Temperatures and winds are expected to gradually back off early-to-mid next week, reducing fire danger for most of the state.

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