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Heightened Fire Danger in the Southwest

The spring has been warm and dry overall throughout the western portions of the nation.  In fact, triple digit temperatures have gripped the Desert Southwest rather early this year. As a result, the warmer and drier conditions are leading to a high fire danger this weekend. For Sunday, there is a critical risk from the Four Corners to another critical risk area from Kansas to Texas.

In Arizona, the Bighorn Fire north of Tucson has burned more than 10,000 acres and is only 10% contained.

Another fire in Northern Arizona, north of Flagstaff, is burning in the Kaibab National Forest north of the Grand Canyon. It is called the Mangum Fire and has burned more than 10,000 acres. It has forced some evacuations in addition to closures along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and in the Kaibab National Forest.

Critical Fire Weather conditions exist when several criteria are met for at least 3 hours: winds are sustained at 20 mph or greater, relative humidity is below the regional criteria for dry conditions, temperatures are above 50 or 60 degrees (depending on season), and fuels are dry.

A combination of strong winds, low relative humidity, and warm temperatures can contribute to extreme fire behavior.  During these times extreme caution is urged, because a simple spark can cause a major wildfire.

Unfortunately, the widespread drought conditions in the West will likely continue through this month.  This lack of moisture causes vegetation to dry out quicker and in turn creates potential fuels for wildfire.

Follow all local burn ordinances and take extra precautions to prevent the ignition of a fire if you live in or will be traveling through these areas.

About the author
Mace was born and raised in Minnesota, where his intrigue for weather and broadcasting grew at a young age. His 30 years in broadcasting have taken him all across the Midwest and in the South. During high school and college, Mace first worked at a number of radio stations which helped pay tuition bills and get him ready for a career in television. His first TV Meteorology job was in Wausau, WI, fo... Load Morellowed by stops in Grand Rapids, MI, Fort Myers, FL, Tampa, FL, Cedar Rapids, IA and then across the country on WeatherNation. Mace is one of our Digital Meteorologists, posting weather stories on our website and social media accounts.

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