There are several wildfires burning across Colorado right now and as you’ve noticed, wildfire smoke has been filling our skies along the Front Range but some areas of Colorado have it much worse.
Here are the current large wildfires burning in Colorado with acreage and location as of Wednesday, June 23.
OIL SPRINGS FIRE
Rio Blanco County
MUDDY SLIDE FIRE
TRAIL CANYON FIRE
As hot and breezy conditions continue through the evening, these wildfires will have the potential to grow further and spread smoke to distant areas. The HRRR (pronounced her) model stands for High-Resolution Rapid Refresh and is a short-term weather model that updates every hour. Within the HRRR model is a smoke forecast and it is showing that smoke will be impacting much of northern Colorado through the evening but thanks to wildfires in surrounding states, all areas of Colorado may see a light tint of smoke fill the skies.
The smoke will be thickest this afternoon through the evening hours in areas nearest the fires. As the afternoon heats up, the smoke will travel. Smoke from the Oil Springs fire (north of Grand Junction) will spread smoke to nearby areas like Meeker and Glenwood Springs as winds push the smoke from west to north and east through the afternoon. The fire burning in Eagle county, the Sylvan Fire, will throw smoke towards Vail, Leadville and Summit county with some smoke making it to Denver. The Muddy Slide fire near Yampa will throw the most smoke towards the Front Range this afternoon and evening. Grand Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Boulder and Denver will all see their skies fill up with smoke this evening and as the sun sets, it should create quite a display of orange tint from 7 to 9pm.
Moderate to heavy smoke from our wildfires, along with several other in-state and out-of-state wildfires, will continue to impact us through Thursday morning. The heaviest smoke impacts will likely occur during the overnight and early morning hours in valley locations and in areas in close vicinity to the local wildfires.
Most of these wildfires started as a result of lightning strikes and with more storms in the forecast over the coming days, it won’t be impossible for more wildfires to spark. The silver lining is that there are storms in the forecast with means moisture will be in the air. That will help to suppress the smoke and will bring better fire fighting conditions to area fires. A couple of bouts of energy are moving across Colorado from Thursday to Sunday. As a result, cloudy and cooler conditions are expected which should at least some containment of wildfires but due to the exceptional dryness of vegetation west of the Continental Divide, fuels will remain high.
Coming off of the most active wildfire year in Colorado’s history, a fire season starting as this one is, paints a bleak picture for the next few months. If you live in the Colorado Rockies, you should have an emergency plan in place in case your property is threatened by a blaze this season.