Extreme fire threat in Central US is caused by Hurricane-force winds and dry conditions

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Low relative humidity is combining with high winds to create an extreme fire weather threat across the western half of the Southern and Central Plains — the highest risk level for fire weather.
Any fires that start will be difficult to contain in the strong winds, the National Weather Service warned.
“Very dry conditions combined with these winds is leading to an environment favorable for wildfire growth, especially for western portions of the Southern Plains,” the weather service said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation has closed some roads due to the high winds.
Stronger, hurricane-force wind gusts are forecast to reach 100 mph in the foothills near Denver.
The highest wind gusts were expected Sunday morning, the weather service said.
High wind warnings remain in effect in parts of Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas through Sunday.
“Remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows,” the weather service advised.

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This weekend, strong winds are causing a severe fire risk throughout the Central United States, closing roads and, in some places, knocking out power for thousands of people.

The western half of the Southern and Central Plains are experiencing an extreme fire weather threat due to a combination of low relative humidity and high winds, making it the region with the highest risk of fire weather. Nearly the entire Plains region—roughly from border to border—had over 10 million people under red flag warnings.

Because of the ongoing drought and gusty, dry air, there is a widespread risk of wildfires throughout portions of the Central and Southern Plains until Sunday. The National Weather Service warned that the strong winds would make it difficult to contain any fires that do start.

As of Sunday, 5,000 acres were estimated to have burned, according to Oklahoma Forestry Services.

With winds reaching 60 mph on Saturday, Oklahoman firefighters battled multiple wildfires spread across six counties. According to CNN affiliate KOCO, aircraft were dispatched to reduce the intensity of the fires on Saturday night.

When fighting a wildfire, two firefighters suffered burn injuries and were transported to a hospital, according to Woodward County Emergency Manager Matt Lehenbauer, who spoke with KOCO. The fire also temporarily prompted evacuation orders.

The weather service stated that “extremely dry conditions coupled with these winds is leading to an environment favorable for wildfire growth, especially for western portions of the Southern Plains.”.

Power disruptions in the presence of wind advisory.

Through Sunday night, there are high wind warnings in effect from Colorado east of the Rockies into central Nebraska and Kansas, with gusts as high as 95 mph predicted, according to the Denver weather service office.

Colorado’s poweroutage . us reports that as of Sunday afternoon, over 125,000 customers were without power.

Due to “the exceptionally high winds and the high risk of wind-driven wildfires,” Xcel Energy Colorado had previously announced that it would be cutting off power to a specific group of customers in some areas. “.

About 100,000 customers lost power as a result of the strong winds on Saturday, according to Xcel, which said on Sunday that it had proactively turned off electricity to 55,000 customers on Saturday. Although crews were evaluating the damage, the company informed CNN that some homes might not have power back until at least Monday.

Spokesman Tyler Bryant stated, “Our crews will need to visually inspect the lines to ensure it is safe to do so before the power is turned back on. More than 600 miles of lines were proactively de-energized.”.

Across the state, reports of wind gusts exceeding 95 mph were made on Saturday. Although winds had lessened on Sunday, the National Weather Service reported that gusts of up to 80 mph were still occurring in some areas of the foothills.

Because of the strong winds, the Colorado Department of Transportation has closed some roads.

A department post on X stated that due to “safety concerns” regarding extreme winds, Interstate 25 near Fort Collins to Colorado’s northern border was closed for 13 hours before reopening on Sunday afternoon.

There are high-wind warnings in effect from eastern New Mexico to eastern Nebraska. The National Weather Service predicts 30 to 45 mph winds with higher gusts through Sunday. It is predicted that in the foothills close to Denver, there will be stronger, hurricane-force wind gusts up to 100 mph.

According to the weather service, the strongest wind gusts were predicted for Sunday morning.

Through Sunday, there are still high wind warnings in place for sections of Kansas, New Mexico, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and Texas.

The weather service advised people to stay inside and issued a warning that strong winds could result in power outages, damage to trees and property, and difficulty traveling.

The weather service suggested, “Avoid windows and stay in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm.”. “Keep an eye out for tree limbs and falling debris.”. If you have to drive, drive carefully. “.

Prepared for potential fire hazards.

Releases from the states’ emergency management operations indicate that the fire threat prompted emergency responses in Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma.

Kansas Gov. According to a release from the Kansas Division of Emergency Management, Laura Kelly declared a verbal state of disaster on Friday, permitting the use of resources to offer state assistance.

Kelly stated, “I implore all Kansans to abstain from burning during this time of extreme fire danger.”. It is possible to reduce the likelihood of fires spreading beyond control by exercising caution, staying alert, and promptly reporting any incidents to the local fire department. “.

According to a statement from the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM), state emergency response resources were activated in Texas on Friday.

The State Emergency Operations Center in neighboring Oklahoma was triggered, according to authorities. To help with the wildfire response, Oklahoma also asked FEMA for fire management assistance, Gov. Declared Kevin Stitt.

This report was assisted by CNN’s Chris Boyette, Sara Tonks, Paradise Afshar, Danielle Sills, and Raja Razek.

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