Dry thunderstorms a concern in the Southwest as fire risk reaches elevated levels on Monday
Dry thunderstorms, which are lightning-producing storms that produce little to no rainfall, are a concern in eastern New Mexico
Extreme heat, dry conditions and strong winds are fueling the fire threat in the Southwest as thousands of firefighters in the region continue to try and contain and extinguish several blazes that continue to burn.
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While the fire risk isn't as extreme as it has been over the past several weeks, there is still an elevated risk across areas where several large fires are still burning.
The elevated risk includes parts of north-central Arizona, including Flagstaff, and across central and southern New Mexico, including Albuquerque and Silver City.
Dry thunderstorms, which are lightning-producing storms that produce little to no rainfall, are also a concern in eastern New Mexico.
Thunderstorms don't need rain to produce lightning, however. Cloud-to-ground lightning can strike the surface and spark a wildfire, especially if the vegetation is dry. Gusty winds associated with the thunderstorm can fan the flames and quickly cause the fire to grow out of control.
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The dry conditions are also being felt in the West, including California. Areas outside San Francisco and Sacramento are under a Fire Weather Warning because the risk of wildfires in that region is high.
In the Southwest, Fire Weather Watches are in effect for all of western New Mexico as well as southwestern Colorado and parts of southern and southeastern Utah.
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The West and Southwest have been extremely dry, and those conditions will continue for the foreseeable future.
Check out the graphic above showing the relative humidity levels in the region on Monday.
Levels will fall into the single digits from Southern California and the Las Vegas area, through southern Arizona and into New Mexico and Texas. Areas of southern Utah, where there's an elevated risk of fires, will also see relative humidity levels in the single digits.
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Most areas will see wind gusts between 20 and 30 mph on Monday. However, stronger gusts can be expected in the Flagstaff, Arizona, area, where they could get as high as 40 mph. While this region has certainly seen strong gusts previously, these will still be high enough to allow for wildfires to spread rapidly if any were to ignite in the area.
The risk of wildfires will again reach critical levels on Tuesday.
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The highest risk will be seen across western New Mexico, from Albuquerque south to Silver City and into El Paso, Texas.
There are also parts of eastern Arizona close to the New Mexico border that will reach critical levels.
Southern Utah is expected to remain under an elevated risk of fires on Tuesday.