Fox News Weather Center

Storm to increase fire threat, bring drought relief to central Plains late this week

A storm approaching the central U.S. will exacerbate the fire threat before dousing the area later this week.

After moving out of the Rockies, the storm will intensify over the High Plains early Thursday.

As a result, southerly winds are expected to increase dramatically from western Texas through the Dakotas.

Along with drawing dry heat out of Mexico and into the Plains, these winds will increase the wildfire threat across the region by quickly spreading any small fire that sparks.

“Temperatures will remain 10-20 degrees above average in these areas with very low dew points and gusty winds,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Jake Sodja.

spring storm 3/20

Large portions of the Desert Southwest and southern and central Plains will face days of record-breaking high temperatures ahead of this system.

“A high fire threat will continue though midweek for the central and southern High Plains, from eastern Colorado and New Mexico into western Texas,” said Sodja.

Areas impacted by wildfires in western Kansas and Oklahoma in early March are still under moderate to extreme drought conditions, and will again be under a high fire threat.

The recent drought across the region is also affecting the eastern plains of Colorado, southwestern Nebraska, western Kansas and Oklahoma, resulting in plenty of dry vegetation to act as fuel for any fires.

Fire bans are likely to be issued, and residents should be mindful of properly extinguishing cigarettes and barbecues.

Just to the east of these areas, sufficient recent rainfall will make for a less urgent fire threat.

Eastern Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma will experience a cooldown with some spotty showers early in the week, Sodja explained.

“This will also be accompanied by more moist air, so the greatest fire threat will remain west of these areas, though gusty winds will exacerbate existing fires,” Sodja said.

Luckily, the end of the hot and dry weather is in the forecast for drought-afflicted areas.

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“More substantial relief will arrive for the southern and central Plains late Thursday into Friday,” said Sodja.

As the High Plains storm drags a cold front through the region late on Thursday, showers and potentially severe thunderstorms will develop.

The potential for downpours as well as the arrival of cooler air will combine to significantly lessen the fire threat by the weekend.

As the area of rain and thunderstorm development tracks eastward into the weekend, drought areas across the Southeast can expect significant relief as well.