Dry and windy weather to fuel late-week wildfire threat in Southwest, High Plains

Dry weather combined with breezy conditions will significantly increase the threat for wildfires across the Southwest and into the High Plains on Thursday and Friday.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, much of New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, Oklahoma, Kansas and the panhandle of Texas remain in abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions.

The threat for wildfires will focus on this area through the end of the week, as dry weather persists and southerly winds pick up.

Trees, grass and brush that have a low level of moisture can serve as fuel and easily catch on fire.

"Fuels continue to remain dry across the Southwest and western Plains at this time, and recent fires have already proved that under the right weather conditions wildfire activity can quickly get out of hand," AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

There have been numerous large wildfires in the region as of late, including one that burned over nearly 400,000 acres on the Kansas and Oklahoma state line and is thought to be the largest wildfire in Kansas history.

A storm taking shape over the Rockies on Thursday and Friday will force a dry air mass to set up over the southern and central High Plains. Southerly winds are expected to gust as high as 35-40 mph.

Temperatures will reach the upper 70s F to lower 80s in the afternoon hours on Thursday and Friday with dew points remaining in the lower to middle 40s.

"Along with warm air and low dew points, breezy conditions will add to the opportunity for new wildfires to ignite, and area residents will want to do as much as possible to prevent creating an ignition source," Duffey said.

This means avoiding outdoor burning, leaving your vehicle running over dry grass, properly extinguishing any cigarette butts and following all posted "do not burn" signs.

Tinder-box weather will only last through Friday, when moisture will filter in and a multi-day flooding event set up over the region.