Wildfire Risk Escalates in Southwest, Plains Amid Dry, Windy Weather

Portions of the Southwest and Great Plains will be at risk for wildfires during the middle of the week.

The combination of dry brush, dry air and gusty winds will allow any fire that ignites to spread rapidly.

People should be extremely careful with open flames and working with power equipment outdoors. Avoid parking vehicles in tall grass or high brush areas as the hot exhaust can be enough to catch the dry vegetation on fire.

The greatest danger for wildfires is during the afternoon and evening hours, when temperatures will be the highest, winds the strongest and humidity the lowest.

One area of concern stretches from eastern Arizona through much of New Mexico and into northwestern Texas, western Oklahoma and southwestern Kansas.

According to AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Evan Duffey, "Add the fact that a good portion of the region is in complex terrain and that there will be some atmospheric instability, and extreme fire behavior may be the result across parts of the region were a fire to form."

Lightning, due to thunderstorms that fire in the instability, may pose a fire threat in parts of the southern Plains.

A second area of concern extends from the Plains of Montana to northeastern Wyoming and the western portions of the Dakotas.

Gusts in this area can reach 55 mph in some locations into Wednesday night.

Much of the Southwest and northern Plains typically receive little precipitation to begin with during the winter, but only a few tenths of an inch of rain or less has fallen since early March.

While the wildfire danger will ease somewhat on Thursday into Friday, the overall potential will continue until sufficient rain or snow falls on the area.

The risk may increase again this weekend as winds pick up.