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Fire Threats are Critical in Parts of Wyoming

September 24th, 2020
The widespread breezy conditions for this afternoon prompted the NWS to issue Fire Weather Warnings for practically all of Wyoming.
The widespread breezy conditions for this afternoon prompted the NWS to issue Fire Weather Warnings for practically all of Wyoming.(KGWN)
Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 12:07 PM CDT
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Yesterday, a small portion of Wyoming was placed under a Red Flag Warning by the National Weather Service (NWS) while the rest of the state was under a Red Flag Watch until 8:00 PM MDT Friday. Today, all but Teton County and parts of Park, Crook, and Weston counties are under a Red Flag Warning. These warnings are in effect until at least 8:00 PM MDT tonight, with some being in effect until 8:00 PM MDT tomorrow. The return of widespread breezy conditions to Wyoming has raised the risk for fires by a good margin, especially with some of the warmest temperatures we have seen all week expected this afternoon. The newest drought monitor also shows that conditions have worsened a little in Wyoming, however the biggest change was in the Nebraska Panhandle, where Scottsbluff joined the Level 4 “Extreme Drought” club. Casper, Riverton, and Buffalo are a few other cities already experiencing Level 4 “Extreme” drought conditions.

A lot remains unchanged in the level of drought across Wyoming, however the northwest part of the state saw conditions worsen over the last week as did the Panhandle of Nebraska.
A lot remains unchanged in the level of drought across Wyoming, however the northwest part of the state saw conditions worsen over the last week as did the Panhandle of Nebraska.(KGWN)

The winds this afternoon are likely to be strongest in the central and southern central regions of the state; sustained speeds of 20-25 mph with gusts between 30 and 40 mph mainly coming out of the west-southwest. This has prompted the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) to issue a level 2/3 “Critical” risk for wildfires in Central and Southern Wyoming. Cities included in the Critical Risk zone are Casper, Douglas, Rawlins, and Rock Springs. Riverton is on the border between Critical and level 1 Elevated, meanwhile Cheyenne does not fall into any of the risk zones. This is mainly due to a lack of stronger winds in the Capital City later this afternoon. When it comes to the battle against the Mullen Fire in the Medicine Bow National Forest, these breezy conditions are going to make it a challenge for firefighters. The fire has grown to over 17.000 acres and continues to inch towards Rob Roy Reservoir. Thankfully for today the winds are more southwesterly and thus the fire will not be driven straight towards Rob Roy.

Strong winds this afternoon as well as warmer temperatures prompted the SPC to issue a Critical Risk for wildfires in parts of Wyoming.
Strong winds this afternoon as well as warmer temperatures prompted the SPC to issue a Critical Risk for wildfires in parts of Wyoming.(KGWN)

For tomorrow, the wind forecast looks to have changed slightly, however wind speeds of 30+mph and gusts of 50+ coming from the west are expected in Rawlins and the Medicine Bow National Forest. These westerly winds will drive the fire directly towards Rob Roy. Outside of that, however, things are forecast to be more calm now, especially further north. Cloud cover will also keep temperatures cooler tomorrow afternoon, which will make battling the fire a little easier. The temperature trend is expected to cool off further over the weekend and into next week, with consistent highs in the 60s expected to close out September.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

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