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Fire Threats are on the Rise Once Again

October 8th, 2020
The NWS has issued Red Flag Warnings for much of Wyoming until 8 PM MDT Thursday thanks to warm conditions and the return of breezy conditions.
The NWS has issued Red Flag Warnings for much of Wyoming until 8 PM MDT Thursday thanks to warm conditions and the return of breezy conditions.(KGWN)
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 12:15 PM CDT
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Yesterday was the calmest the winds have been all week, and now as we go into the weekend the winds are picking back up. Tomorrow will be the only other day in which winds are relatively calm over the next several days. With a powerful cold front on the way, the Cowboy State needs to prepare for some winter-like winds and what that could mean in relation to the Mullen Fire. For today, the winds are not going to be quite that strong. In fact, many locations will not have overly breezy conditions later this afternoon. However temperatures are up, drought conditions have worsened, and the National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for much of Wyoming until 8:00 PM MDT Thursday Night. Air Quality Alerts are also becoming more expansive, having grown to include Converse and Natrona counties over the past two days as the Mullen Fire eclipsed 170,000 acres this morning.

As the Mullen Fire continues to grow, the smoke its producing has become more expansive. Natrona County is the latest to see air quality drop below normal due to smoke from the blaze.
As the Mullen Fire continues to grow, the smoke its producing has become more expansive. Natrona County is the latest to see air quality drop below normal due to smoke from the blaze.(KGWN)

Going forward, tomorrow as aforementioned will be the last day before breezy and windy conditions sweep across Wyoming over the next several days. The far southeastern portion of the state will see the strongest winds tomorrow, and they aren’t expected to eclipse 20 mph in terms of sustained speeds. The unseasonably warm temperatures will last through Saturday, and then the cold front pushes through on Sunday. There is a lot up in the air in regards to the cold front coming through and its potential effects on the Mullen Fire, some things positive and others negative. Let’s start with the positives. For starters, this cold front is going to bring rain to most of Wyoming. The region that might be missed? Laramie county east of the Laramie mountain range. Cheyenne’s rain chances for Sunday have dropped, as have the chances for locations east of Cheyenne such as Pine Bluffs. But the chance for rain over the Medicine Bow National Forest remains relatively high. A good amount of rain can really suppress the development of the Mullen fire. The question becomes how much rain will the region see. Another positive is the cold front will drop temperatures around the state by 20+ degrees. Fires spread best in hot, dry conditions. Temperatures on Sunday will top off in the 60s as the cold front passes through, and then come Monday they will be in the mid to upper 50s.

The main negative of course is just how strong and widespread the winds will be Sunday and Monday. Sustained wind speeds in excess of 30 and gusts of over 50 mph out of the west are expected both Sunday and Monday. This no doubt will blow the Mullen Fire even closer to Laramie. The other negative is drought conditions, which have worsened again. The new drought monitor shows continued Extreme conditions through most of Carbon county and into Albany county, as well as new Moderate drought conditions in the northeastern part of the state. So even if there is a decent amount of rain on Sunday, conditions are so dry that if the fire isn’t extinguished (which it likely will not be) the winds will allow it to pick right back up, even if it is a bit slow to spread at first. Breezy conditions are expected beyond next Monday through a large portion of next week, primarily blowing from the west. The smoky skies may clear slightly Sunday thanks to an uptick in humidity, but those winds will bring it right back next week.

Winter-like winds are expected across Wyoming on Sunday as a cold front passes through the state.
Winter-like winds are expected across Wyoming on Sunday as a cold front passes through the state.(KGWN)
The northeastern part of Wyoming has seen conditions drop from "Abnormally Dry" to "Moderate Drought" in the latest release of the Drought Monitor.
The northeastern part of Wyoming has seen conditions drop from "Abnormally Dry" to "Moderate Drought" in the latest release of the Drought Monitor.(KGWN)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) -

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