The threat for wildfires keeps blazing across the Southwest as the ground remains parched.
Much of the region, including the Mojave Desert, has been under “extreme” or “exceptional” drought for several months. These are the worst two categories issued by the U.S. Drought Monitor, and fires of different sizes continue to burn.
Many of the fires have been contained. But the drought, combined with very dry air and gusty winds, will make it easy for new fires to start over the next few days. Also, new and existing fires could spread out of control because of the wind.
The National Weather Service has posted red flag warnings for southern Nevada (including Las Vegas), southeastern California, southern Utah and northwestern Arizona. These places could see the strongest winds, with gusts exceeding 50 mph at times. Relative humidity will be very low, at 15% or less in most areas.
Fire weather watches have been posted for the rest of northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado. These areas, also in a drought, may be prone to strong winds and an elevated fire risk this week.
If fires get too close to highways, there’s potential for closures, and smoke could reduce visibility for drivers. This would impact sections of Interstates 15 and 40, in addition to major U.S. highways in the region, such as 89, 93, 95, 160, 491 and 550.
Truckers can do their part in preventing fires by not parking in grassy areas, and by not dragging chains that could send sparks into grassy/wooded areas.
Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.
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