Although we have had some rain across Colorado recently, no rain has fallen in the areas of the state that needs it the most.
We have a few chances for rain through Saturday, mainly in the northern half of the state and then we will see the heat turn on and 80s and 90s will be common across Colorado come next week. The heat coupled with dry air and windy conditions will allow fire conditions to ramp up for early next week.
Colorado is no stranger to drought. We’ve dealt with it before and it looks like we have to deal with it again. The drought, which was non-existent last summer, is back with a vengeance this year as almost 80-percent of the state is at least abnormally dry currently and close to 15-percent of the state is under Extreme drought conditions.
Places like Alamosa and Las Animas are under that extreme drought. Pueblo, Gunnison, Telluride and Durango are experiencing severe drought. Colorado Springs, Aspen and Grand Junction are under a moderate drought while areas like Denver, Fort Collins and Steamboat are experiencing no drought concerns. Yet.
Impacts from drought have different effects based on location and severity. The biggest concern we are looking at going forward is elevated fire danger.
The highest level of drought we have right now is D3. That means that city landscapes are starting to dry out, large fires are possible, reservoirs are running very low. Most of the state is under D0-D1 and that essentially means that the number of wildfires will increase. Since we are heading to wildfire season, that is our biggest concern right now.
Wildfire Threat Increasing
Wildfire season in Colorado typically begins in April and lasts through the summer months. What happens between February and April is sometimes representative of what our fire season will be like. As you’ve read, we are experiencing a worsening drought which leads us to believe this fire season won’t be good.
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) headquartered in Boise, ID puts out fire potential outlook by month. As we head to June and July, it is looking like we will have above normal wildfire potential. Fire potential takes into consideration the amount of moisture that is in vegetation and the ground and the forecast outlook.
Southwestern and Western Colorado are in the zone for potential increased fire danger. This is not new for them. Over the last several years, drought has impacted this area of the state almost constantly which has made wildfires well known for some.
Long-term forecasts are a good gauge of what is expected over the next several months but the accuracy is not all that great. Again, it’s a good gauge.
If we consider what is forecast, it looks at though northeastern Colorado will see the possibility for slightly above-normal precipitation for the summer months while all other areas have an equal chance at seeing above or below normal moisture.
Temperatures look to be hotter than normal. That does not bode well for drought since we live in such a dry, arid area, the heat will only exacerbate drought concerns.
Be safe this summer. Head all fire weather warnings and do your part to protect your homes.
~ Rain or Shine
I’m Andy Stein