If you woke up Saturday morning and thought it seemed smoky in the Durango area, you’re not alone. But according to the National Weather Service, it’s just cloudy.
Kris Sanders, senior meteorologist with the NWS in Grand Junction, said, “There are some high level clouds to the north of Durango that are kind of streaming across the area.”
He was not aware of any major fires or prescribed burns taking place in the region Friday or Saturday.
Similarly, air quality indexes, such as Weather Underground, put Durango’s air quality at “good.”
Even if there are not fires actively burning in the region, however, now is not the time to throw caution to the wind and start one. Red Flag Warnings have been issued for Southwest Colorado from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and noon to midnight Sunday.
“Critical fire weather is expected this afternoon,” Sanders said. “We’re looking at really low (relative humidity) and wind gusts on the order of 30 mph today, and then tomorrow it will be higher. It could get into the 35 mph range as an average across the windiest part of the day. We’re looking at that lingering through tomorrow evening.”
The danger was illustrated early Saturday afternoon by a grass fire that briefly burned out of control between U.S. Highway 550 and County Road 203 in north of Durango.
A storm is forecast to arrive in the region early next week, bringing a 50% to 60% chance of precipitation Monday and Tuesday. The storm could bring snow to the high country, but it may not reach down into the lower valleys, he said.