Elevated fire weather conditions continue this evening across much of Southern Colorado. Accordingly, a Red Flag Warning remains in effect until 8 pm.
Red Flag Warnings like what we're seeing tonight are fairly common this time of the year, even though we're still months away from the peak of fire season. The peak for Southern Colorado starts in May or June, and can last through early fall.
Looking ahead to peak fire season
Going into wildfire season, this year's projected fire danger isn't nearly as high as what saw back in 2018, a year that saw 475,000 acres burn across our state. 2019 was mild in comparison, with just over 40,000 acres burned.
Thanks to above average winter precipitation, the outlook from May through July is considered "normal", according to the National Interagency Fire Center. These outlooks gauge fire danger across the country on three different levels: below normal, normal and above normal.
Let's examine more closely July's outlook, which also shows a "normal" risk of significant wildfires for Southern Colorado.
To find out more about what's considered normal, we checked in with the Colorado Springs Fire Department's Wildfire Mitigation Section for some answers.
According to Lieutenant Mike Evers of the Colorado Springs Fire Department, smaller grass fires will happen in the spring, and the larger wildfires will be more common in the summer or early fall.
"We always have to remember that wet winters and springs can favor increased wildfire risk due to increased understory growth, but these fires will typically occur in the summer or fall once the grasses and fuels have had a chance to dry out," Evers said.
Evers added that even during wet or snowy winters, fire danger might start out low in the spring compared to a dry winter, but the added moisture will help sustain vegetation grow. New growth eventually will dry out during the summer, when wildfires tend to peak in Colorado.
Important fire safety tips
As fire season picks up, it's important to remember to avoid activities which could start a wildfire.
Keep vehicles off of dry vegetation, pay close attention to burn bans and warnings, and obey orders from local and state officials.
Lastly, whenever a Red Flag Warning is in effect, activities that could spark a wildfire should be avoided.