DENVER (CBS4) – Friday is the fifth consecutive day with a Red Flag Warning in the Denver metro area. Worsening drought is playing no small part in the daily threat for wildfires.
The weekly drought monitor that was released on Thursday showed a slight increase in the area of Colorado experiencing at least moderate drought. It’s now about 92% instead of about 91% a week ago. The far more troubling find was that the percentage of the state experiencing at least severe drought jumped from 47% a week ago to 57% this week.
Considering drought status does not usually change by more than a couple percentage points up or down between the weekly updates, the 10% increase in severe drought is very worrisome. Extreme drought also climbed slightly and now includes the Limon area on the Eastern Plains. The worst drought category (exceptional drought) also increased in the far southeast corner of the state near Springfield.
The significant drought means there is plenty of dry fuel to push fire danger to a critical level again on Friday. Denver and the Front Range plus most of the Eastern Plains and the southern mountains are under a Red Flag Warning from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m.
Luckily the wind will not be as gusty on Friday as it was on Thursday but there will still be enough wind for concern. Gusts reached over 50 mph at times in Denver on Thursday whereas the strongest gusts on Friday should be generally under 40 mph.
It will also be slightly warmer on Friday with high temperatures in the mid 70s around Denver, Boulder, and Fort Collins which is slightly above normal for the middle of May.
For the weekend, wind gusts should be light enough to limit fire danger to just southern Colorado. Regardless of any Red Flag Warnings that are issued for Saturday and Sunday, with more dry and warm weather all weekend, fire danger will remain elevated virtually statewide.