Fire Danger!

Saturday, November 6th 2010, 8:58 am
By: News On 6

Fire danger! That will be the primary weather related concern over the next few days. Increasing southerly winds, warmer temperatures, sunny skies, and low humidity levels all add up to an enhanced fire danger situation. It could be worse though as we will not quite meet the criteria for a Red Flag Warning. Among other things, those criteria include sustained winds of 15 mph or more, temperatures of 75 or more, and a relative humidity of 25% or less.

For today, temperatures will be in the 60s and the winds will be increasing to 10-20 during the afternoon hours, but not a sustained 15 mph. However, relative humidity levels will be dropping into the low 20% range this afternoon so there is still an enhanced fire danger. Even warmer temperatures and stronger southerly winds are expected over the next few days which will maintain a very high fire danger each day.

Bright, sunny skies also indicate a lack of moisture aloft. Upper level ridging over the southern Plains is responsible for the dry, stable conditions, but a strengthening system is moving into the southern Rockies and will be moving into the Plains during the coming week. As this system approaches, the cool surface high that has produced freezing temperatures over the last few mornings will be moving eastward. At the same time, pressure will be falling along the lee slopes of the Rockies creating a tightening pressure gradient and gusty southerly winds.

Unfortunately, moisture will be slow to return as dew point temperatures are running in the 40s over the northern Gulf of Mexico at this time. Even with the strength of the southerly flow, dew point temperatures will be slow to recover creating additional uncertainty regarding our rain chances for later in the week. Another source of uncertainty is the lack of model agreement as to when and with what intensity this cool front will arrive. This lack of consistency leads to a low confidence forecast with regard to our rain chances. As a result, will introduce a slight chance for later Wednesday when a few showers/storms may occur and focus on the Thu/Fri time frame for the best chance of rain or storms. Depending on which solution verifies, not only will there be at least a chance of rain, but potentially some locally very intense storms.

As always, stay tuned and check back for updates.

Dick Faurot