Days of warm temperatures, high winds, and low humidity across the southern Colorado region have seen Red Flag Warnings and a number of fires crop up. A Red Flag Warning means conditions are ideal for the start and spread of wildfires, including dry fuels, low relative humidities, and gusty winds.
"It's the fifth day in a row," says Klint Skelly, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo. "Fire conditions are actually still going to occur tomorrow as well. We have a fire weather watch tomorrow for the far eastern plains."
Skelly expects that watch will be upgraded to a Red Flag Warning, which would make Tuesday the 6th day in a row for such conditions over some or most of the region. Skelly says, though, that he's not sure how it compares to other early Marches, adding, "This isn't terribly uncommon."
In Elbert County, a fire destroyed four homes and five outbuildings Sunday. The blaze flared up again Monday and spread quickly due to high winds, eventually burning around 375 acres.
Smoke was visible Sunday in Colorado Springs due to a brush fire that came near housing at Fort Carson. The fire burned around 270 acres near Gate 5 off Highway 115, prompting evacuations that have since been lifted.
A large brush fire that was fueled by high winds came close to housing at Ft. Carson near Hwy. 115 a (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette) pic.twitter.com/u2Zb1tD3Sq
— Jerilee Bennett (@jerileebennett) March 4, 2018
On Saturday, mulch piles at Rocky Top Resources in Colorado Springs caught on fire, keeping crews on scene throughout the night to monitor after the initial response.
Other fire departments throughout southern Colorado have also been responding to starts over the past few days.
— NWS Pueblo (@NWSPueblo) March 4, 2018
Wind gusts across the southern Colorado region late Sunday morning clocked in largely in the 40 mph range, according to the National Weather Service. Some gusts in Pueblo, Custer, Huerfano, and Las Animas Counties topped out in the 50 mph range, with some 60s seen at the summit of Pikes Peak and at La Veta Pass in Huerfano County.
Although temperatures are cooler on Monday, a Red Flag Warning is in place from 10-6. The latest predictions for precipitation and temperature from the National Weather Service's Climate Prediction Center show higher than average temperatures expected through May, as well as lower than average precipitation.