High Wildfire Danger This Week in the Plains, Southwest

By Michael Doll, Meteorologist
May 7, 2014; 2:53 PM ET
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Gusty winds, low humidity and dry conditions will combine to create a high wildfire threat across the southern Plains and parts of the Southwest this week.

The fire danger is especially high in the southern Plains, where extreme heat and low humidity over the past couple of days are creating increasingly dry fuels.

A wildfire in Guthrie, Oklahoma, last Sunday killed one person, and according to Oklahoma Forestry Services, the Governor of Oklahoma has declared a burn ban in 36 counties across the state.

Eighty-eight counties across Texas have instituted outdoor burn bans, according to the Texas A&M Forest Service.

Afternoon temperatures in the southern Plains through the middle of this week will likely smash more records.

Areas in Kansas saw record highs Tuesday including Medicine Lodge, which hit 103 degrees Fahrenheit, shattering the 1986 record of 95 F. Dodge City and Garden City also set records Tuesday, reaching 96 F.

Low humidity and wind gusts of 30-40 mph will help contribute to the high fire danger.

While it will not be as hot across Arizona and New Mexico, a few thunderstorms are expected to move through the Four Corners region on Wednesday. These thunderstorms will contain cloud-to-ground lightning and very little rain.

Forecast Temperature Maps
Oklahoma Wildfire Kills One Person
South Central Interactive Radar

A single lightning strike can ignite a fire, and gusty winds and dry conditions can help flames spread quickly.

The southern Plains and portions of the Southwest are in the grip of worsening drought conditions, as some areas have received less than 25 percent of their normal rainfall since early March of this year. Much of southern Arizona has received less than 5 percent of their normal rainfall over the last 60 days.

Showers and thunderstorms are expected across portions of the southern Plains on Wednesday and Thursday. While the rain will be beneficial, it will not be enough to end the drought.

Some of the storms can be severe and contain damaging winds, large hail and tornadoes.

Cooler air will settle over the southern Plains on Friday in the wake of these storms.

Thumbnail image courtesy of Kevin Fourie


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