BOULDER, Colo — A very strong storm system over the Pacific Ocean is headed just north of Colorado and is projected to be a big wind maker for our state Friday, especially east of the mountains. We may also get the driest air we’ve seen this year.
“The combination of everything coming together on Friday could make it the worst day we’ve seen since the Marshall Fire day,” said Paul Schlatter, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder.
Schlatter said he’s concerned by the number of fire starts we’ve seen on the Front Range this April.
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Fortunately, fast action from firefighters has kept the wildfires small so far, but in Friday’s wind, it may be too dangerous to fight fires directly.
“Combined with temperatures in the 80s and extremely dry air, any fire that gets started is going to quickly get out of control,” Schlatter said.
He said Friday's conditions could rival any of the bad wildfire days we've seen in recent years, including the Marshall Fire, the big runs that the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires made in 2020, and the Logan-Phillips Fire that burned 30,000 acres on the eastern plains in 2017.
Even with these terrible fire weather conditions, there is no trouble unless there's a spark. That's where people can take control over the situation by being extra careful with any fire activities and reporting any suspicious smoke to 911 immediately.
Friday will be the 18th consecutive day with a Red Flag Warning in Colorado. That has never happened in any month over the last 14 years, let alone in April.
These unprecedented fire weather conditions are only precursors of how bad fire danger could get this summer.
“Looking long term, of course that concerns us. We need to get some precip in here," Schlatter said. "With May being our wettest month typically, that could put an end to fire season temporarily if we get a wet month, but if it keeps staying dry like this, we’ll continue to see day after day of Red Flag Warnings.”
He said there is a good chance that High Wind Warnings will also be issued Friday, which means the winds will be strong enough to bring down power lines and add to the fire danger concern.
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