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    Extreme fire danger threatens south-central US on Sunday

    By Kristina Pydynowski, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
    March 05, 2018, 7:18:30 AM EST

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    Residents from eastern Colorado to western Texas should remain extremely vigilant on Sunday as the stage is set for explosive fire growth.

    While an elevated fire danger started the weekend, an increase in winds has significantly heightened the fire danger for Sunday.

    Residents in Denver and Pueblo, Colorado; Garden City and Colby, Kansas; Guymon, Oklahoma; Amarillo, Lubbock and El Paso, Texas; and Tucumcari and Roswell, New Mexico, will have to use extreme caution when dealing with cigarette butts or any other sparks.

    "The below-average precipitation this winter, along with continued warm air, low humidity and strong southerly winds will allow for any minor sparks from grilling and other typical outdoor summertime activities to quickly get out of hand if not monitored properly," AccuWeather Storm Warning Meteorologist Brian Knopick said.

    Fire risk Mar 3

    Sunday will feel more like April or May in many communities with temperatures rising 10-25 degrees Fahrenheit above normal.

    Due to the ongoing severe to extreme drought, the region is like a tinderbox. Wind gusts of 30-50 mph can cause any fire to rapidly spread and endanger lives and property.

    There can be locally higher wind gusts, especially in northeastern New Mexico and southeastern Colorado.

    Residents are urged to remain vigilant of the fire danger and be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice. Smoke or small blazes should be reported immediately to the authorities.

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    Motorists will face added dangers as the winds can kick up blowing dust and dramatically reduce visibility.

    Those planning to travel on stretches of interstates 20, 25, 27 and 40 should leave extra space between other vehicles to avoid chain-reaction accidents.

    Airline passengers may encounter flight delays.

    The gusty winds will howl ahead of the storm spreading disruptive snow from the Rockies to the northern Plains.

    south-central regional today

    Showers and thunderstorms will also erupt ahead of the storm's cold front, but the majority of the wet weather will occur east of I-35 and the hard-hit drought areas.

    A thunderstorm or two may develop in the corridor between Amarillo, Texas, and Oklahoma City. These thunderstorms, however, can be a double-edged sword. Any rainfall underneath the storm would be welcome, but lightning strikes away from where it is raining can spark wildfires.

    It is not out of the question for a few thunderstorms across the south-central United States to turn severe from Sunday afternoon into Sunday night, but a widespread outbreak is not anticipated.

    Cooler air will filter in behind the storm for Monday and Tuesday. However, gusty winds will continue to blow and can prove extremely problematic for firefighters battling any blazes.

    There are no signs of substantial rain gracing the drought-stricken region through the upcoming week.

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