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Jun-27-2012 13:44printcomments

Gusty Storms Threaten Massive Colorado Wildfire

More than 32,000 people have been ordered to evacuate across El Paso county, Colo., including nearly 10,000 in the city limits of Colorado Springs.

Colorado Springs fire map
Special thanks to Accuweather.com

(STATE COLLEGE, PA Accuweather.com) - AccuWeather.com reports a large and growing wildfire burning out of control near Colorado Springs, Colo., has destroyed numerous homes and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands of people on Tuesday.

The blaze, dubbed the "Waldo Canyon Fire," has already charred 6,200 acres as of late Tuesday night, and was only five percent contained.

The weather today may contribute to more spreading of the dangerous wildfire.

Weather for the Waldo Canyon Fire

Unfortunately, record-challenging heat will persist today with the high temperature reaching into the mid- to upper 90s. Relative humidity will remain low, in the teens, for most of the day before climbing a bit in the afternoon.

The humid air streaming in is a signal of some monsoon moisture that may ignite a spotty thunderstorm during the afternoon.

"Unhelpful thunderstorms in Colorado may end up causing more lightning strikes, little rain and gusty winds," warned AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity.

Gusty winds up to 15-20 mph, blowing in different directions, during the afternoon and evening may fan the flames of the massive fire. This may cause the fire to spread more erratically.

More Details on the Waldo Canyon Fire

More than 32,000 people have been ordered to evacuate across El Paso county, Colo., including nearly 10,000 in the city limits of Colorado Springs.

Among the evacuees are civilians and military personnel on the base of the Air Force Academy on the edge of town.

A number of homes have already been destroyed on the northwest corner of the city, fire information officer Rob Deyeberg told Reuters.

Gusty winds in excess of 30 mph helped spread the fire. Record warm temperatures and low humidity made matters worse.

Colorado Springs set an all-time record high temperature of 101 on Tuesday.

Unseasonably warm temperatures and low relative humidity levels will persist over the next few days.

To make matters worse, any thunderstorms that could pop up each day through Thursday in the area will contain very little rain, but lightning that might spark new fires.

In the meantime, more than 750 people will continue to work to contain the blaze, which is one of a number burning throughout the state in what Gov. John Hickenlooper is calling "the worst fire season in the history of Colorado."

The Waldo Canyon Fire is not actually the largest fire in the state right now. Three other infernos have burned through more land in Colorado, led by the High Park Fire, which has charred 87,284 acres, but is 65 percent contained.

Another large fire, burning near Boulder about 30 miles northwest of Denver, has forced the evacuation of more than two dozen homes.

"According to the USDA Forest Service, there are more than 29 uncontained large fires occurring across the nation Tuesday," said AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Evan Duffey.

One massive blaze in Utah turned deadly on Tuesday after officials found a body in the wake of the Wood Hollow Fire.

Bill Deger is a Meteorologist for Accuweather.com




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