A volatile combination of windy and dry conditions could spread wildfires today in the Southwest

May 9, 2022, 12:37 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:15 pm

An extremely critical, highest-level fire risk has been issued near the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fi...

An extremely critical, highest-level fire risk has been issued near the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire.

(CNN) — An extremely critical, highest-level fire risk has been issued near the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire, as powerful winds, combined with exceptional drought conditions, threaten to fuel the largest wildfire now burning in the United States.

Places facing a Level 3 of 3 fire risk include northeast New Mexico, southeast Colorado and western portions of the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. On top of red-flag warnings for dangerous fire conditions, much of the region is also under high-wind warnings, with winds of 30 to 40 mph expected Monday, along with gusts between 50 and 60 mph.

Get ahead of the weather: Sign up for weekly email updates from CNN meteorologists

“The main concern today is going to be the wind,” Chuck Jones, senior meteorologist for the National Weather Service office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, told CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

“Those winds are going to be strong to potentially damaging in some places,” Jones said, adding winds could gust up to 70 mph a few times Monday, including in and near the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak wildfire — the nation’s largest — which has burned nearly 190,000 acres and is 43% contained, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Much of the Southwest has been under a prolonged, severe drought fueled by the climate crisis that has fostered the critical fire conditions. Drought conditions have worsened in recent days across much of the Southwest and South, deepening a water crisis and fueling fires across several states, US Drought Monitor wrote Thursday in its weekly summary.

Three new, large fires were reported over the weekend: two in Arizona and one in Texas, the fire center said Monday. “Currently 12 uncontained large fires have burned 322,309 acres in four states … Evacuation orders are in effect,” it said.


‘Rapid spread of new fires’ is possible


Conditions near the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak Fire and within the extremely critical risk area remain incredibly arid, with relative humidity levels only in the single digits.

A volatile combination of windy and dry conditions may lead to “extreme behavior among ongoing fires, as well as promote the rapid spread of new fires,” the Storm Prediction Center said Monday morning.

Over 4 million people are in a critical risk — Level 2 of 3 — of fire weather zone that surrounds the extremely critical fire risk, including in Albuquerque; Colorado Springs, Colorado; and Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas. That area will see sustained winds of 20 to 25 mph, stronger gusts and very dry air.

Tuesday shows a slight improvement in the conditions in the Southwest. However, the critical risk of fire weather will remain for much of the region.

“Winds will decrease tonight, but gusty winds will redevelop over the eastern half of New Mexico Tuesday, leading to another round of critical fire weather conditions,” the Albuquerque weather service office said.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

National News

Pedestrians cross the street at the intersection of Washington and 5th in Hoboken, N.J., Thursday, ...

Jeff McMurray, The Associated Press

A New Jersey city that limited street parking hasn’t had a traffic death in 7 years

Street parking was already scarce in Hoboken, New Jersey, when the death of an elderly pedestrian spurred city leaders to remove even more spaces in a bid to end traffic fatalities.

18 minutes ago


Matt Schooley

Referee dies after collapsing during high school basketball game

A referee died after collapsing in the closing moments of a Watertown high school basketball game on Friday, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association confirmed.

1 hour ago

Nikki Haley speaks with KSL TV during a campaign trip to Utah following a large trail of losses in ...

Gregory Krieg, CNN

Nikki Haley will win DC GOP primary, CNN projects

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley will win the Republican presidential primary in Washington, DC, CNN projects, after three days of voting in the party’s only capital polling location – a downtown hotel.

2 hours ago

The Supreme Court may hand down at least one opinion on Monday, according to a new post on the cour...

John Fritze, CNN

Supreme Court may announce at least one opinion Monday as US waits for word on Trump ballot case

The Supreme Court may hand down at least one opinion on Monday, according to a new post on the court’s website. The announcement is certain to drive speculation that the justices are prepared to decide whether former President Donald Trump is eligible to appear on Colorado’s presidential ballot.

6 hours ago

(From left) Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya in 'Dune: Part Two.'
Mandatory Credit:	Niko Tavernise/Wa...

Lindsey Bahr, AP Film Writer

‘Dune: Part Two’ brings spice power to the box office with $81.5 million debut

Movie theaters were looking for a savior and “Dune: Part Two” is delivering on the promise.

10 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

Eric Bradner and Daniel Strauss, CNN

Trump wins all delegates at stake in Michigan GOP convention amid leadership battle

Former President Donald Trump won all 39 delegates at stake at a Michigan Republican convention Saturday, as officials there sought to move past a leadership battle that has split the state party into rival factions.

1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

A volatile combination of windy and dry conditions could spread wildfires today in the Southwest