*UPDATED* Fire Danger! Hot, Dry, and Windy Conditions Continue

The National Weather Service
Building a Weather-Ready Nation

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 There will be high fire danger today and tomorrow as continued dry low levels, dry vegetation (thanks to the record and near record high temperatures over the past several days), strong winds, and dry lightning affect the entire area. On Tuesday, strong southwest flow will draw up more dry air and fan the flames of any fires that may start due to dry lightning today. A weak, dry cold front will move through Tuesday night, cooling temperatures somewhat on Wednesday, however the lower levels will remain dry and winds will increase from the southwest in the afternoon.

So it begins...Fontenelle Wild Fire Northwest of Labarge in the Wyoming Range.

First lightning strikes: Unita County, Lincoln County, and darn close to Natrona County. (Updated 3pm)  Stay Tuned!

This animation shows the moisture being drawn up from the Pacific, rotating around the high pressure center in the plains and heading right over Wyoming. This mid level moisture will provide the moisture needed for thunderstorm formation across the state today...and across central and eastern portions of the state on Tuesday. 

Click on the animation to see a larger version. The loop may take a few minutes to load.

Mid level moisture rotating around a high pressure center could provide the fuel needed for dry thunderstorms this afternoon and evening. Dry thunderstorms could form just about anywhere but will be most concentrated along the western mountains this afternoon...with some activity shifting eastward into central portions of Wyoming. A secondary band of instability lies just east of our area of responsibility, but some  of this instability could make it into Johnson and Natrona Counties.

The lower levels of the atmosphere are very dry today. This means that the bases of the thunderstorms will be around 10 to even 15 thousand feet this afternoon. When the rain tries to fall out of these storms, it quickly evaporates before it hits the ground. This evaporative process creates a pool of heavy, cold air that will eventually fall to the ground with a lot of force, creating very strong, erratic wind gusts that seemingly come out of nowhere and can travel for miles. These winds combined with the lightning activity from the storms will elevate the already dangerous fire weather conditions across the state.

A cold front approaches from the west on Tuesday. Winds will increase ahead of the front from the southwest, drawing in more dry air and creating hazardous fire weather conditions again on Tuesday. Temperatures will be slightly cooler on Wednesday behind the front, however, highs will remain well above normal and relative humidities will remain low.

An upper level jet streak will enhance thunderstorm activity again tomorrow...however the focus of the activity will shift east into Fremont, Natrona, Johnson, and Sweetwater Counties. In addition, winds will pick up from the west with 20 to 35 mph sustained wind speeds expected along with higher gusts...especially near thunderstorms.


Tuesday afternoon: This image shows the low relative humidites in red (pretty much the entire state) with the higher wind speeds (in excess of 20mph sustained) in the cooler shades. Where these two areas overlap, the fire danger will be the highest. The blue arrows show the direction to which the wind will be blowing (Southwest winds blowing to the Northeast across the state).

Please click on the image to see a larger version.

Please be careful with fire this week! Mother nature may do her part to start a lot of fires today and tomorrow. These fires will be fanned by strong winds and low humidity tomorrow, and given the very dry vegetation that has been exposed to record heat and single digit relative humidities for days on end...fires could easily become uncontrollable.

Please do your part to help the firefighters out: don't start any new fires!

Please educate yourself on the burn bans / fire restrictions in your area, or in an are to which you are travelling.

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