Just as crews were gaining ground on some of the largest wildfires in the West, the weather will once again turn against them.
A low-pressure system is forecast to produce thunderstorms near many of these fires Thursday and Friday, as well as other areas that are also suffering from major drought. Unfortunately, these storms won’t drop much rain to suppress the fires. Instead, they will generate cloud-to-ground lightning strikes, along with wind gusts of 35 to 40 mph.
The lightning could spark new fires, while the winds could spread new and existing fires out of control. Not only will this be a challenge for firefighting crews, but truckers may hit many more areas of reduced visibility, unhealthy air and potential road closures.
Most of Nevada, in addition to northern and eastern California, are under a fire weather watch for these dry thunderstorms and gusty winds. This includes the Dixie and Caldor fire areas, the largest and second-largest wildfires in the country, respectively.
Dozens of other large wildfires are included in either the fire weather watch or red flag warnings that stretch from far northern California to Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Dry storms could also pop up in these areas, and winds will be gusty at times in the absence of thunderstorms.
The Dixie fire in northern California has been burning since July 13. It was 922,507 acres in size as of Wednesday evening and 59% contained. It’s not only the largest wildfire in the country, but it’s also the largest single fire in California history. More than 4,800 firefighters and support personnel are working this fire.
The Caldor fire in northern California has been burning since Aug. 14. It was 217,007 acres in size as of Wednesday evening and 50% contained, a big improvement from last week. The impending weather may set back the 4,820 firefighters and support personnel who are working this fire.
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