UTAH (ABC4) – Like a broken record, today we face another day of critical fire danger over much of Utah and the rest of the Great Basin. Our above normal heat and gusty winds, coupled with the dry fine fuels, have led to explosive results for fire danger.
The Storm Prediction Center has highlighted many areas in Nevada and all of Utah for the potential to see elevated fire concerns. The winds are the biggest factor that has changed for us in the past couple of days, creating an environment to fan fires that can cause explosive behavior, such as the Bear Fire and East Canyon Fire.
These conditions are why we see a red flag warning still in place in almost all of Utah and most of Nevada and parts of Western Colorado. The warnings last until Thursday evening, when we expect to see a cold front move in and really pick up winds even though we do get some heat relief.
The winds are expected to stay around a sustained speed of 20 to 35 miles per hour, but the wind gusts look to be much stronger especially during the peak afternoon hours when fires see the most activity. Our futurecast model indicates that we will see quite a strong increase in the wind gusts, which can give fires the extra boost of oxygen and momentum to move downstream faster.
This activity would cause existing fires to grow rapidly again if fire crews have not had a chance to contain the fires or for new fires to spread rapidly once ignited, as they will have sufficient oxygen and fuels to cause explosive growth.
Smoke may also be an issue for some areas north of the fires due to the southerly flow of air moving in. Given the winds allowing for the fires to continue burning their fuel, our futurecast smoke model is favoring the Bear Fire to be the most prominent smoke creator.
Air quality can go down due to the smoke and ash carried downstream, which could cause breathing issues for sensitive groups. Limiting your exposure to the smoke from these fires is advised.
Tomorrow does not look to be any better in regards to fire either as the boost in our winds has also prompted the Storm Prediction Center to have the Uinta Basin under extreme fire danger risk.
Unfortunately, this weather pattern does not look to really break down as we are eyeing another stretch of above average warmth and windy conditions at the end of this weekend and the beginning of next week.
Be sure to stay up to date on your weather and fire conditions with Utah’s Most Accurate Forecast on-air or online here.
You can also see all of Utah’s active fires, their containment, and any restrictions that may be in place through Utah Fire Info here.