Hurricane-force winds and dry conditions combine to fuel extreme fire threat in Central US

Published: 2 months ago

Updated: 2 months ago

Reading time: 3 minutes

Intense winds across the Central United States this weekend are fueling critical fire danger across some states, and threatening power outages, tree damage, travel disruptions and blowing dust in others.

Intense Winds and Fire Danger in the Central United States

This weekend, intense winds across the Central United States are creating critical fire danger in some states and posing threats such as power outages, tree damage, travel disruptions, and blowing dust in others. The combination of low relative humidity and high winds is leading to an extreme fire weather threat across the western half of the Southern and Central Plains, representing the highest risk level for fire weather. Over 10 million people are under red flag warnings across much of the Plains, with the widespread fire risk expected to persist through Sunday due to gusty, dry air and an ongoing drought.

The National Weather Service has warned that any fires that start will be difficult to contain in the strong winds. Already, firefighters in Oklahoma have been battling several wildfires across six counties amid winds as strong as 60 mph. Despite efforts to slow the fires down, they were still burning as of Saturday night, with one wildfire triggering temporary evacuation orders and causing burn injuries to two firefighters.

Furthermore, hurricane-force winds are forecasted to continue through Sunday, with wind speeds ranging from 30-45 mph and higher gusts from eastern New Mexico to eastern Nebraska. Stronger, hurricane-force wind gusts are anticipated to reach 100 mph in the foothills near Denver. As a result, high wind warnings are in effect in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas through Sunday, posing risks such as damaged property and trees, power outages, travel difficulties, blowing dust, poor visibility, and fire danger.

State Preparations for Fire Risk

The fire threat has prompted emergency responses in Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma. Kansas Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly issued a verbal state of disaster, urging Kansans to refrain from burning during this period of extreme fire danger and to report any fires to their local fire department. In Texas, state emergency response resources have been activated to assist local wildfire response efforts, and in Oklahoma, the State Emergency Operations Center was activated and the state has requested Fire Management Assistance from FEMA to aid in the wildfire response.

The National Weather Service recommends that people in affected areas stay aware of their surroundings, remain indoors out of caution, and take extra precautions to minimize the risk of fires getting out of control.


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