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Dry winter weather fosters combustible Colorado conditions

Posted at 5:05 PM, Feb 27, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-27 21:39:43-05

BOULDER, Colo. – Colorado could really use precipitation along the Front Range as much of the state is experiencing some level drought.

The latest drought map shows 91 percent of the state is at least abnormally dry, and 71-percent is in a moderate drought.
Dry Winter weather could make it a rough transition into a hopefully wet Spring season.
“Over the next three months, there's a trend to see warmer to normal temperatures, as well as average to a little bit below average precipitation,” Lisa Kriederman said.
Kriederman is a Forecaster and Incident Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Boulder.
She explained this is a forecast that won’t favor what the last three months have already fostered; that’s combustible conditions.
“We've probably been in the less than 60-percent of average snowfall,” she said. “Mainly over Western Colorado, down into Southern Colorado.”
West of Denver, those in Gypsum are preparing and monitoring their snowpack levels.
Concerning conditions pushed town leaders to host their first Water Summit in the last ten to 15 years.
Town Manager, Jeff Shroll said, “We're going to hope for a good, heavy, wet Spring and hopefully life will return to fairly-normal.”
He said in the case that doesn’t happen, Gypsum town leaders just want to be ready.
Shroll added, “We want to have these discussions ahead of time, rather than have them when it’s too late in the game.”
We know many things can lead to massive, destructive wildfires including moisture levels, humidity, daily temperatures, among other factors.
“Higher sun angles,” Kriederman added as she referred to conditions March could bring. “You start to see those warmer temperatures, and you also start to see those really windy days where that can really drive a fire.”
Then there’s the role we all play.
On February 18th, Denver7 was on-scene in Elizabeth after a truck hit a power pole and sparked a grass fire off Highway 86.
It was only mid-February, and already conditions were dry enough to fuel the flames.
“We're going to see a lot of this,” Elizabeth Fire Chief TJ Steck said. “This is going to be a rough year for us unless we get some significant moisture.”
While forecast conditions look less than ideal, experts said it’s not time to panic — yet.
Kriederman said, “It's just going to really depend on what weather comes to us over the next three months.”