DENVER (CBS4) – Five of the last six weeks have been mostly dry in most of Colorado. The result has been worsening drought and extended periods of high fire danger including this week.
As of May 3, 91% of Colorado is experiencing drought. (source: CBS)
The only benefit to the unusually dry weather may be the lack of severe weather on the Front Range so far this season. There been been zero hail days in the Denver metro area and not a single severe thunderstorm warning for damaging wind or anything else which is somewhat unusual through the middle of May. Last year there had been two days with severe weather in the metro area by this point on April 27 and May 2.
Moisture is a key ingredient for thunderstorms to develop. Without the typical spring storms the region suffers by not getting rain but also is spared large hail, damaing wind, and tornadoes that can be destructive and extremely costly.
This week also marked the 5 year anniversary of the historic hailstorm that closed Colorado Mills Mall and resulted in about $2.3 billion in insurance claims across the metro area.
Hail damage to a Colorado State Patrol cruiser in Golden on May 8, 2017 (source: CSP Sgt. Mullins)
Instead of warning about severe weather this season, the CBS4 weather team has been warning mostly about fire danger. Tuesday is another First Alert Weather Day for critical fire danger on the south and west sides of the metro area. There is a Red Flag Warning though 9 p.m. for areas such as Castle Rock, Castle Pines, Parker, Franktown, Kiowa, Elizabeth, Conifer, Evergreen, and Genesee.
The Red Flag conditions extend into southern Colorado and across portions of the Western Slope as well. The most ciritical fire danger in the state on Tuesday is from around Pueblo south to Raton Pass.
The threat for wildfires that spread quickly and are difficult to control will be even higher on Wednesday. There is already a Fire Weather Watch (the precursor to a Red Flag Warning) for most of Colorado on Wednesday including Denver and the entire Front Range urban corridor, most of the Eastern Plains, and even parts of the high country including Leadville, Salida, Buena Vista, South Park, Middle Park, and North Park.
Contributing to the higher fire danger on Wednesday will be very warm temperatures. The Denver metro area should reach at least 88 degrees and 90 degrees is possible. Any temperature above 89 would make Wednesday the warmest day so far this year in Denver.