DENVER (CBS4) – Thursday has the ominous distinction of becoming the 24th day so far this year with a Red Flag Warning on or near the Front Range. That’s a record through May 12.

The previous record for Red Flag Warning days through May 12 was 23 days in 2018 which was a particularly bad fire year in Colorado. The Spring Creek, 416, and several other large fires happened that year.

(source: CBS)

Fortunately the NCAR Fire in March has been the only major fire in the state this year but conditions are very favorable for another fire on Thursday. The Red Flag Warning covers more than 50% of Colorado including all of the Eastern Plains, the entire urban corridor including the foothills of Jefferson, Boulder, and Larimer Counties, and most of southern Colorado.

(source: CBS)

Westerly winds will gust up to 50 mph in some areas. The Denver metro area will have gusts up to 40 mph. The wind will combine with extremely low relative humidity to push the threat for a wildfire to a critical level.

Thursday is not a day for outdoor burning of any kind. Also avoid any outdoor activity that may produce a spark and be ready to take action should a wildfire start.

The same cold front that will trigger the wind on Thursday will also keep temperatures about 20 degrees cooler compared to Wednesday when Denver tied a record with 90 degrees. Wednesday was also the hottest day so far this year. So even with temperatures at or above above normal, it will feel cooler on Thursday.

(source: CBS)

Looking ahead to Friday, higher humidity and less wind should limit high fire danger to only parts of southern Colorado. There is Fire Weather Watch for the San Luis Valley and surrounding areas. At this time, no Red Flag Warnings are expected in the Denver metro area on Friday which will be the first time in almost a week!

(source: CBS)

What is really needed to drive down the fire danger is moisture. Unfortunately there is none in the forecast through at least early next week.

Meteorologist Ashton Altieri