As smoke permeates the Roaring Fork Valley from wildfires in the southwestern U.S., officials on Tuesday released a red flag fire warning through Thursday due to hot and dry conditions compounded by gusty winds.
“The weather pattern is setting up for an extended period of critical fire weather conditions through much of the work week,” according to the NWS. “Above normal temperatures each day will allow afternoon humidity to drop into the single digits to lower teens over much of the region. Strong southerly winds can also be expected each afternoon as a deep trough remains positioned over the west coast.”
Winds will gust 25 to 35 mph with higher gusts forecast Thursday, according to the Tuesday announcement. Pitkin County also released an alert Tuesday informing the public that it is aware of the smoke presence from neighboring states.
“Temperatures will continue to run several degrees above normal,” the NWS statement read. “Gusty southwest winds and low [relative humidity] expected each afternoon through Friday, with poor overnight relative humidity recovery. Ongoing wildfires may become difficult to control.”
A red flag warning is issued when the grass and trees “are critically dry and the weather would support a fire growing out of control if started,” according to the NWS. The areas impacted, according to the warning, are all of western Utah and much of Western Colorado.
A number of fires broke out in the southwestern U.S., including in Arizona and New Mexico, on Tuesday. Locally, Cottonwood Pass between Garfield and Eagle counties was closed for a couple of hours Tuesday due to a small fire burning in the area.
Temperature highs in Aspen this week are projected in the 80s, while Glenwood Springs could reach closer to 90.
“Conditions will be favorable for the rapid ignition, growth and spread of fires,” the NWS site stated. “Agricultural burning is strongly discouraged.”