Dangerous conditions expected across West Slope and Front Range southwest of Denver in the early part of the weekend, snow showers possible in the northwestern mountain ranges Saturday night
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Campers out for their first trip of the summer season in Colorado and eastern Utah may want to make sure their tents are securely staked.
The National Weather Service has issued wind watches and warnings, dust storm warnings, as well as fire weather advisories and even a red flag fire warning for parts of Park County and the mountains southwest of Denver, where forest and grass fuels are very dry.
Along with the fire danger, drivers of high-profile vehicles like trucks and campers should also be aware of the potential for dangerous gusts, especially along north-south oriented highways. Fire restrictions are in place on BLm lands in western Colorado and other areas. Visit the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center for regional info on outdoor fire restrictions.
Sustained winds of 25 to 40 mph will be widespread across much of the West Slope and eastern Utah, where any small fire could quickly grow. Saturday, winds will be even stronger with valley gusts reaching 60 to 75 mph. On exposed mountain ridges, expect wind gusts exceeding 75 mph, with the strongest winds expected from late morning to early afternoon.
According to the forecasters, Saturday’s wind event will be the strongest spring wind storm since 2002, when in similarly dry conditions, the Hayman, Coal Seam and Missionary Ridge fires all blew up on June 9.
Winds from the Southwest will increase overnight ahead of an approaching cold front that is slated to reach western Colorado late Saturday, when winds will start to ease. The strong front will drop temperatures significantly by Sunday and bring a chance of showers, mainly in the northern part of state.
Snow showers are possible at the higher elevations of Utah’s Uinta Moutains, as well as the Elkhead, Flattop and Park ranges in northwestern Colorado. A chance of showers will persist through Sunday.