Fire Danger Returning But The Drought Monitor Is All Clear. What - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

Fire Danger Returning But The Drought Monitor Is All Clear. What's The Deal?

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If you've been keeping track of the drought monitor, you'll notice most of Colorado is in pretty good shape. 

Currently, only 1% of far western Colorado is in the moderate drought category, 21% is abnormally dry, and 78% is clear of any drought. Last year at this time we were starting to ramp up our winter drought with 24% of Colorado under a moderate drought... which really isn't too far off from where we are now. Southern Colorado is in the best shape with every part of our viewing area showing up as drought free on the most recent drought monitor update.

So if we're not in a drought, what's the big worry about fire danger? Well, we all know how dry southern Colorado can be, but our proximity to the mountains makes us very windy and dry, especially in transition seasons. Typical jet stream steering and the prevailing winds are out of the west in some sort of way, and that means any moisture is typically wrung out over the west side of the Rocky mountains. That means as the air travels over the mountain range towards southern Colorado, it dries out and slides down the mountain a bit stronger as a dry, down slope wind. That pattern is what leads us into our usual dry and windy climate. That combination of dry, windy conditions makes the perfect recipe for fire danger.

Now if you remember, the last day we got any rain or snow was on Monday the 9th, but accumulations barely even made it to 0.5" for much our area, and we had already been very dry before that! This has dried out our fuels like grass and weeds efficiently, especially with the sunny & warm air we saw through the rest of this week. The wind speeds are expected to ramp up Saturday, blowing out of the north between 20 to 30 mph with gusts up to 40. Fires could catch and spread very easily that day, even with relative humidity values hanging in the 20% range (optimum RH values for fires are in the teens).

We have no solid rain chances through the weekend and all of next week looks dry, so just know that even through the drought situation is technically gone, the fuels on the ground are dry and a wind over 10 mph could spread a fire easily. Please just take precaution over the next week as even an accidental small spark could ignite something much bigger.

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