Dry, sunny weekend brings an increased risk for wildfire | SteamboatToday.com

Dry, sunny weekend brings an increased risk for wildfire

Highs in the 80s all weekend with little chance for rain

Kaeden Campbell, 6, makes his way around the BMX track at Bear River Park on Thursday afternoon.
John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs is set to have a sunny and dry weekend, but with that sun comes an increased risk for fire weather.

A red flag warning, which indicates an increased risk of fire, is in effect from noon to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 16, due to wind and low relative humidity. The National Weather Service issued a fire weather watch for Saturday afternoon and evening.

Chris Cuoco, senior meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said these conditions account for most red flag warnings issued by the National Weather Service.

“Most frequently, the red flag conditions occur during very warm, dry and windy conditions,” he said.

Cuoco said a red flag warning is generally issued when there is fairly widespread relative humidity of 15% or less and winds gusting up to 25 miles per hour or higher for three hours within a 12-hour period.

Occasionally, thunderstorms that occur after a period of hot, dry conditions or dry storms, which produce lightning but almost no rain reaching the ground, can also instigate a red flag warning, he said.

The Routt County area will see thunderstorms developing over the mountains with gusty winds, according to a hazardous weather outlook issued for the area. Dry, breezy conditions might lead to elevated fire weather concerns Friday and Saturday afternoon for communities along the Yampa River.

A weak cold front moving through the area during the weekend might dampen temperatures a few degrees Friday and Saturday. The Weather Service calls for a high of 84 degrees Friday with a 10% chance of thunderstorms. Saturday will see a high of 82 degrees.

Mike Weissbluth, a local meteorologist who operates snowalarm.com, said that this front is the result of a storm system moving across Canada. These storms will force the jet stream to “sag over the northern states” this weekend, dragging a weak cool front through our area.

“The sun is so strong now that it’s probably not going to have a big effect as any clouds that may be around,” Weissbluth said. “If there’s enough moisture to give us clouds, we feel cooling more from the clouds than we would from the cold front. … All things being equal we should be several degrees cooler. Clouds would make that more noticeable.”

Weissbluth said it’ll be “a pretty standard weekend,” for the end of August, though windier conditions will last through the weekend.

With the breeze and dry conditions, people should take precautions to prevent wildfire.

“It is going to continue to be hot and dry and somewhat breezy,” Cuoco said. “When we have conditions like that, we urge people to be very careful with campfires and very careful with smoking materials and off-road vehicles and your own vehicle parked on the side of the road. There have been many fires started by somebody pulling off the road and their catalytic convertor, in particular, is very hot and starts the grass on fire. Be wary, and be cognizant of those kinds of things and just help prevent the start of any wildfires.”

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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