Cool, damp conditions to offer fire relief in parched southwestern US

By Renee Duff, AccuWeather meteorologist
February 13, 2018, 8:27:26 PM EST

The southwestern United States is in the midst of a pattern change which will bring bouts of wet weather, lowering the fire threat this week.

A dry and warm end to January and start of February left the region parched and caused drought conditions to redevelop or worsen.

Large portions of Southern California, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and all of Arizona are dealing with drought ranging from moderate to extreme.

Although the rainfall this week will not be enough to wipe out the drought or ease water supply concerns in the coming months, the turn to damper weather will moisten dry vegetation and ease the wildfire danger.

CA Pattern 2.12 PM

“Rain will make a rare appearance to central and Southern California this week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.

“Most of the precipitation will be confined to the Sierra and Coastal Range, but it will fall light and scattered,” he said.

Flagstaff, Arizona, which has only received 23 percent of its normal snowfall so far this winter, was whitened by a bit of snow to kick off the week.

“It does not appear that any significant precipitation will occur to put a dent in the growing drought,” Rathbun said.

Residents in Los Angeles and San Diego may need to pull out an umbrella at times and could face slower commutes as spotty showers move across the area through Tuesday.

SW Tue regional 2.12 PM

Airline passengers traveling to and from these cities may face delays.

“With cold air aloft, isolated thunderstorms cannot be ruled out with this system,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Ryan Adamson said.

Brief gusty winds, small hail and frequent lightning will be the primary threats from any storm.

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While California will miss out on significant, drought-busting rainfall, areas farther east could get a thorough soaking later this week.

“A plume of moisture from the tropical regions of the Pacific could bring steadier rainfall to the Desert Southwest during the middle to end of the week,” Rathbun said.

Should this area of steady rain evolve over the Desert Southwest, Rathbun warned that enough rain to trigger flash flooding and mudslides is possible.

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