Fox News Weather Center

High winds create extreme wildfire risk over central US

Spread by stiff winds, the risk of wildfires will continue through the middle of the week across the High Plains of the United States.

The strongest winds will occur into Tuesday evening and will extend from parts of northern New Mexico and southeastern Colorado to the northern Texas Panhandle, western Oklahoma and central Kansas.

Gusts from the west and southwest will range between 40 and 50 mph and can be locally higher.

"The combination of dry brush (primarily dormant grass), low humidity and strong winds will help to fuel and spread any fires that develop," according to AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey. "Any wind above 15 mph is a problem for firefighters."

Duffey, also a fireman, stated that the region has yet to experience a green-up this spring and fuel moisture is below normal.

"The only aspect working against the fires is that while temperatures are slightly above average the air is not super warm like we have seen earlier this season," Duffey said.

While the strongest winds will occur through Tuesday, the wildfire threat will continue into Thursday of this week from western Texas to the Dakotas.

Lightning strikes from spotty thunderstorms could ignite some blazes into Tuesday night.

Leading the list of causes are burning cigarette butts, downed electrical wires, control burns and power equipment, Duffey said.

People will need to be extremely careful when using outdoor power equipment during the windy conditions this week. Never park a vehicle over dried brush. The hot exhaust system coming in contact with the brush can be enough to start a fire.

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