The Storm Prediction Center warns that a heightened risk for wildfires will cover portions of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas on Saturday. Weather conditions could reach “critical” risk criteria in parts of the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles, outlining where dry air and high winds could lead to rapid growth of any fires that spark in the region.
A low-pressure system developing in southeastern Colorado will set the stage for the Saturday’s wildfire risk. Sustained westerly winds of 20-30 MPH, with higher gusts, will sweep over the risk areas.
Temperatures will climb into the upper 60s to near 70 and relative humidity levels will drop into the single digits. The combination of high winds, warm temperatures, and very low humidity will allow any fires that spark to spread rapidly.
Fire weather conditions will reach their peak during the day on Saturday before waning in the evening as the low moves away from the area and temperatures fall with the setting sun.
Albuquerque and El Paso are included in the elevated risk, while Amarillo is very close to the critical risk area. Local National Weather Service offices have issued red flag warnings for the affected areas to warn residents about the risk on Saturday.
The best way to prevent a fire from growing out of control is to prevent the fire from starting at all. Avoid any activities that involve open flames or sparks. Carelessly discarded cigarette butts and vehicles driven over dry grass can also lead to wildfires.
Vegetation is already dried out from an ongoing drought across the region. The latest update of the U.S. Drought Monitor noted the effects of prolonged dryness in the Southwest and Southern Plains, with extreme to exceptional drought conditions over many of the areas expecting fire weather conditions this weekend.