A strong upper storm system will move from the Rockies northeastward across the Plains on Sunday (January 21). The surface reflection of this system will be a deep low pressure area that is expected to move from the Oklahoma Panhandle to eastern Kansas during the day. A dryline will push quickly eastward across western and central Oklahoma, and a cold front will be moving south across the High Plains.
Dormant vegetation and increasing drought have resulted in the potential for rapid fire spread. This will be aggravated to the west of the dryline on Sunday where southwest winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts to 45 mph will exist. In addition, low humidity values of 10 to 20 percent will increase the potential for wildfires.
Southwest Oklahoma is most likely to see the combination of conditions that would allow for the dangerous and rapid spread of fire. However, critical fire weather conditions may extend northeastward toward the I-35 corridor of the state as well.
Fire danger will become extreme across western Oklahoma and the Panhandle on Thursday afternoon (23rd). This is part of a larger area of concern that extends from southwest Kansas to eastern New Mexico.
Deep low pressure will be organizing Thursday morning over southeast Colorado. This low will track eastward across Kansas during the afternoon, while the associated dryline makes its way across western Oklahoma. To the west of the dryline, the wind will be gusting out of the west southwest at speeds of over 40 mph. Humidity values will be dropping to less than 15 percent. The combination of low humidity, strong wind, and dormant vegetation will result in very high to extreme levels of fire danger.
While the dryline is likely to make it to central sections of the state, humidity values won’t fall quite as far thanks to recent heavy rainfall.
The area that saw the greatest rainfall was generally east of a line from Altus to Clinton to Cherokee. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be at least elevated fire weather concerns where the heavy rain fell. It has been over 72 hours since the rainfall and dormant vegetation has had a chance to dry out. Muddy conditions will also create problems for firefighting apparatus attempting to gain access to fields. This delay can result in further fire spread.
By evening, a strong cold front will begin to move quickly southeastward from Kansas. Behind the front, the wind will shift to the northwest between 30 and 40 mph which could create problems for firefighters working at ongoing fires.
A strong upper storm system will be moving across the Plains and Midwest today (Thursday) and Friday. The storm will be producing heavy snow from the Rockies to the Central and Northern Plains and Midwest, with blizzard conditions expected on Friday in portions of South Dakota and Minnesota.
By this evening, low pressure will be located in Kansas, and a dryline will extend southward across northwest Oklahoma and eastern portions of the Texas Panhandle. To the west of the dryline, humidity levels will drop well below 15 percent this afternoon. Meanwhile, strong west southwest winds will develop with some gusts to between 50 and 60 mph across the Panhandle. All of this will result in very high fire danger this afternoon and early evening across the Panhandle and far northwest Oklahoma. Red Flag Warnings are in effect for the Panhandle and far northwest, as well as adjacent areas of New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas and Texas.
Strong mid-level flow will extend from the west coast to the Central Plains through the start of the week. In response, surface low pressure will deepen to the north and northwest of the state. A tight pressure gradient will result in increased southwest winds across Oklahoma on Sunday and Monday.
While most of the main body of Oklahoma will hold on to low level moisture (higher humidity), very dry air will be spreading eastward across New Mexico and West Texas. Humidity is likely to drop below 15 percent across the panhandle on Sunday, and across the Panhandle and far northwest Oklahoma on Monday.
The combination of limited recent rainfall, above average temperatures, low humidity and vegetation that is becoming dormant will lead to very high fire danger.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Fire danger will become elevated across the entire state during the morning and afternoon hours on Wednesday. Very high fire danger levels will likely be seen across much of central and western Oklahoma.
A cold front is moving across the state and will be well southeast of Oklahoma by Wednesday afternoon. Behind the front, the air will be dry and strong northwest winds will be gusting to between 35 and 45 mph. Across western Oklahoma, afternoon humidity will drop to less than 20 percent. Across central Oklahoma, humidity will drop to less than 30 percent. The combination of strong winds and dry air will once again create conditions favorable for rapid fire spread.
The threat will decrease during the evening hours as winds rapidly weaken.
3:51 pm 4/5/16
A large fire started north of Woodward around 1 pm this afternoon. It is burning out of control – moving northward near the Harper/Woodward county line. This fire will likely not be able to be brought under control until later this evening, and may begin to spread east and southeast after a cold front passes the area between 9 and 11 pm.
Humidity in the fire area is currently between 15 and 18 percent… southwest winds have been gusting to over 50 mph.
Deep low pressure will be organizing over western Kansas on Tuesday. By afternoon, strong south and southwest winds will be blowing across the state with gusts to over 50 mph possible – especially across northern and western Oklahoma. Humidity over the west and Panhandle will drop to near 10 percent, while humidity over central Oklahoma drops to between 20 and 30 percent. The combination of dry air and high winds will result in yet another day of high fire danger. Dangerous fire weather conditions will be found over western Oklahoma and the Panhandle. In these areas, uncontrolled fires may not be able to be brought back under control until conditions improve in the evening.
A weak cold front will be approaching the Panhandle during the mid afternoon on Sunday. In advance of this front, increasing warm southwest winds will be gusting to between 30 and 40 mph across the state. Meanwhile, humidity will remain low. Across the Panhandle and far western sections of the state, humidity will drop to less than 20 percent. Elsewhere, humidity near or less than 30 percent is likely. The combination will result in elevated or high fire danger across the region. A Fire Weather Watch is in effect for much of northwest Oklahoma and central Kansas. Red Flag Warnings will likely be needed for some of this area by Sunday morning.
Surface pressures will be falling over the High Plains this afternoon and winds will be increasing out of the southwest across western Oklahoma. The wind will be gusting to between 30 and 40 mph. Humidity across much of central and western Oklahoma will be dropping to below 30 percent – and may approach 10 percent over the far western part of the state. These factors will lead to increased fire danger across much of the area this afternoon.
The combination of still mostly dormant vegetation, low humidity and strong winds will result in dangerous fire weather conditions on Wednesday. Extreme levels may be reached in portions of central and southwest Oklahoma which could result in catastrophic fire spread.
Deep low pressure will be moving along the Kansas/Nebraska border. A dryline will be advancing eastward across Oklahoma during the afternoon. To the west of this boundary, afternoon humidity will drop below 20 percent across central and western Oklahoma, and may drop to near 10 percent over the southwest part of the state. Winds will be strong out of the southwest at 20 to 30 mph with gusts between 40 and 50 mph. By evening, the dryline will be moving across eastern Oklahoma and there will be a few hours where fire danger will become quite elevated. Between 2 and 4 pm, a cold front will begin to move southeastward across the Panhandle and far northwest Oklahoma. Winds will shift to the northwest, but continue to gust to between 40 and 50 mph. While humidity will begin to rise, it is still expected to remain low enough to keep fire danger very high. The front is expected to reach central Oklahoma around sunset. Fire officials and managers will need to monitor the progress of this front as any active fires will see a movement change from the northeast to the southeast.
Extreme caution should be exercised by all on Wednesday. Any fire that becomes uncontrolled may not be brought under control until conditions start to improve during the evening hours.