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High fire danger for south central, southeastern Colorado Thursday, NWS says

Locally higher wind gusts could happen over the San Luis Valley, Pikes Peak Region, and the I-25 corridor, NWS forecasters say
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Posted at 11:00 AM, Apr 20, 2023

DENVER – Very dry and windy conditions will lead to critical high fire danger for portions of south central and southeastern Colorado Thursday, according to forecasters with the National Weather Service.

A red flag warning will be in effect from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. for portions of Saguache County south and east to the Colorado-New Mexico and Colorado-Kansas state lines, affecting mainly the San Luis Valley, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Wet Mountains, Fremont County, and all of the eastern plains with the exception of northern El Paso County.

The forecast calls northwesterly winds which could gust up to 50 mph in some parts, forecasters said. Those wind gusts could be strongest over the upper Arkansas River Valley, the northern San Luis Valley, and the I-25 corridor. Relative humidity values were forecast at less than 10%, which could contribute to extreme fire behavior.

A Virga – a mass of streaks of rain appearing to hang under a cloud and evaporating before reaching the ground – is possible over the San Luis Valley, Pikes Peak Region, and the I-25 corridor leading to locally higher wind gusts, forecasters added.

Winds will be a weaker over the far eastern plains, but gusty up to 25 to 30 mph are still expected, according to the NWS.

“It is likely that the critical fire weather conditions will end over the far easter plains before 8PM, but conditions will still be very dry and has ongoing fires,” NWS officials wrote in their latest forecast discussion.

The very windy and dry conditions across south central and southeastern Colorado could contribute to wildfire behavior at a moment’s notice, so forecasters advise Coloradans under the red flag warning to “avoid activities that may cause a spark,” as “fire growth will be rapid and hard to contain.”

The NWS said more dry and windy condition are likely to lead to more critical fire weather conditions for parts of southern Colorado Friday.

A fire weather watch will be in effect Friday afternoon and early evening for the San Luis Valley and the lower elevations of Pueblo, Huerfano, and western Las Animas counties.

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