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Southern Co. storm impacts on drought concerns and high fire danger

Southern Co. storm impacts on drought concerns and high fire danger.jpg
Posted at 6:14 PM, May 20, 2022

COLORADO SPRINGS — As rain and snow is moving into Southern Colorado on Friday, News5 is taking a look at how this moisture and precipitation will impact drought conditions and high fire danger in the area.

Sam Schreier, the morning meteorologist at KOAA, said this weather won’t end the drought, but it will be good news by providing some relief for high fire danger and the firefighters who’ve been working so hard over the past few weeks.

“The relief is going to be game-changing for the fire departments in a lot of Southern Colorado,” said Schreier.

Schreier said this snowstorm is one of the most significant snowstorms he’s tracked during the month of May in the past few years. Forecasts show the Pikes Peak Region will get one to two inches of precipitation during the storm, and upwards of a foot of snow in some areas.

“The grass, the trees, and shrubs, they need every ounce of water they can get. So the fact that we're getting as much as we are, I definitely would say wave off fire danger for at least a few weeks,” said Schreier.

With the moisture and lower chances of higher fire danger, comes relief for local fire departments.

“It's definitely a good breather for a few days. The rain actually came in a little quicker than I thought it was going to, which by no means is bad. It's very good,” said Ashley Whitworth, the wildfire program administrator for the Colorado Springs Fire Department.

She also mentioned that the moisture helps some but, “since it's so dry out, basically everything underground will suck up that moisture faster than it normally does. In return, that leaves everything above ground, still dried out. When we turn right back around, then get into 80-degree weather with wind and we're dry, then it's not helping us as much as we would hope that it would,” said Whitworth.

Thankfully, this rain and snow event is still a break in the dry, high fire conditions we've been seeing. Plus, more precipitation is on the way.

“We actually have a couple more rain chances from Sunday through the start of next week. So mother nature, I think, is trying to make up for what it put us through in April. But I think this dry, hot windy pattern, we're not done with it,” said Schreier. “But I think Colorado needs to just buckle down for several months of fire danger. The best thing we can do is be careful because most fires in Colorado are human-caused.”

Right now is also a good time to get yourself and your homes ready for wildfires. The Colorado Springs Fire Department is providing free education on how to mitigate your property. They're also holding town hall meetings to make sure you're ready and prepared if a wildfire happens.

Whitworth says CSFD crews are speaking with 25-40 homeowners every week, about how to better mitigate their property. She’s also seen an increase in more people asking for this service.

For more information, click here.