“We’re expecting above normal temperatures and what that means for the fires is generally unstable conditions,” Todd Shoemake, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, told CNN. “So if you start to see a fire develop, it can often become quite explosive and gain power and heat very quickly.”
The cities of Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Roswell, New Mexico all have the potential to tie or break records this weekend and early next week, making weather conditions at peak l Calf Canyon / Hermits fire even more disastrous.
“High temperatures are tough on our firefighters,” said Isaac Sanchez, communications battalion chief for CalFire. “Just existing in these conditions is more difficult. Our ability to fight a fire for a long time and the endurance of our firefighters are all impacted.
“When it happens so early in May, it takes time to acclimatise. But we must be ready to fight the fires at all times.”
Other factors are also at play, including very low humidity levels and very high winds. In Santa Barbara, Calif., temperatures are expected to be at least 10 degrees above normal on Friday with winds gusting between 30 and 40 mph, in addition to humidity levels below 25%.
“High daytime temperatures and lower humidity mean the fuel is going to react faster and easier,” Sanchez told CNN. “This creates a more receptive fuel bed.”
Essentially, the heat and low humidity combined create a more hospitable environment for fires to thrive.
The warm temperatures will last until next week when the winds pick up, further increasing the fire danger.
Any improvement in wind conditions or humidity levels will be extremely helpful for firefighters hoping to increase fire containment over the next week.
But it’s not just the desert southwest that will see record heat; In many Gulf Coast states, which have largely been spared the worst of the intense heat so far, temperatures will start to climb this weekend.
Heat spreads across the southern United States
From Arizona to Louisiana, more than a dozen cities are expected to break temperature records this weekend. From Phoenix to Amarillo, Texas, those records are expected to hit triple digits.
However, this heat wave will expand and expand into the coming week as well. Parts of Texas could break daily records for high temperatures every day for at least the next seven days.
Starting Sunday, Roswell, New Mexico, and Midland and Odessa, Texas will see high temperatures soar to 100 degrees and stay there until at least Thursday of the coming week.
For much of east Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana, the concern is not just the temperatures themselves, but the extended period that the heat will persist. .
Anyone who is outside this weekend should take extra precautions.
“We have very dry conditions which are expected throughout the weekend with very low humidity,” Shoemake told CNN. “So you combine the heat with these very dry conditions, dehydration can really become a problem fast. And if you’re outside, whether you’re working or exercising, take lots of frequent breaks.”