Jun 16, 2014 1:56 PM by Stephen Bowers
The fire risk is increasing today. Our risk map indicates critical fire weather conditions everywhere in Southeastern Colorado.
The highest fire risk today is within our Red Flag Warning, which is in effect for nearly all of El Paso County from 12 noon until 9 PM today. A Fire Weather Watch is in effect for El Paso County for tomorrow, and that likely will become a Red Flag Warning for tomorrow later this afternoon.
Many of us are noticing the smell of smoke and the smoky haze in the sky. There aren't any fires locally to speak of, but the answer is to our southwest. I have plotted the four big fires in Arizona for you. Over the Pacific Northwest is a large low pressure circulation. With a counter-clockwise wind flowing around that low pressure, the wind is carrying that smoke from the fires in Arizona right into Colorado. That's why we are seeing that haze and smelling the smoke in the air.
The wind will increase this afternoon as a lee-side low develops over the Eastern Plains. That isn't uncommon, and the increasing wind will help to mix the atmosphere and warm our temperatures quickly into the 80's and 90's this afternoon. For now temperatures are mainly in the 80's and 90's with 70's in high elevations. Dew point temperatures, which measure the air's moisture content, have been in the 40's and 50's a lot lately. Today they are in the teens and 20's, indicating a very dry air mass in place.
With sunshine, a smoky haze, and occasional wave clouds our temperatures will will warm through the 80's and 90's through 2 PM and 4 PM. Some areas of the Plains may get close to 100 but should stay just shy of that. By 6 PM, temperatures are beginning to back off for the evening, and the wind will slacken overnight.
Tomorrow will be warm and windy again. The wind and warmth will begin to ease back on Wednesday, and cold front that moves through Wednesday night will set up for a cooler Thursday and Friday with a few more clouds. We will warm on Saturday ahead of the next disturbance that could mean some rain on Sunday.