Drought, winds to fuel Southwest wildfires as heat builds

Temperatures across the southwestern United States could set new daily records through midweek, contributing to an elevated wildfire risk across the region.

AccuWeather Global Weather Center – May 24, 2022 – For weeks, the Southwest has been gripped by extreme drought, rapidly spreading wildfires and surges of heat. AccuWeather forecasters say that this trend will continue with the temperatures in some cities possibly approaching record territory.

Across the Southwest, the fire season is already off to an active start. Earlier this month, destructive wildfires raged from Texas to Arizona, some of which are still active fires. The Hermits Peak Fire, which started in New Mexico when crews lost control of a prescribed burn, was only 40% contained with over 311,000 acres lost as of Tuesday morning. Farther south in the state, the Black Fire was only 11% contained with over 146,000 acres burned as of the start of the week.

Active fires are also continuing in Arizona. The Tunnel Fire, located just north of Flagstaff, Arizona, has burned nearly 20,000 acres, but it is 98% contained as of Monday morning.

This past weekend, calm and cool weather helped fire crews battle the blazes across the Southwest. A bulge in the jet stream over the East Coast created a bottleneck in the atmosphere, sending temperatures surging in the East but allowing for cooler-than-normal weather for much of the rest of the country, even allowing for a late-season snowstorm in Colorado and Wyoming. However, forecasters say that a change in this pattern is already taking place.

“As a cooler air mass slides into the eastern half of the country, this will open the door for heat to continue building in the Southwest,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Matt Benz.

Drought, winds to fuel Southwest wildfires as heat builds (Full Story) >>

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