Wildfire erupts in Oklahoma as risk hits critical levels across Southern Plains amid high winds
Widespread critical fire weather conditions are expected late Friday morning through the early evening from the northeast and central Highlands to the Oklahoma and Texas borders.
OKLAHOMA CITY – A wildfire ignited in central Oklahoma on Friday as the risk of rapidly spreading fires hit critical levels across the dry Southern Plains amid high winds.
The fire erupted south of Guthrie, Oklahoma, and aerial video shows thick smoke billowing into the air as flames appeared to be spreading through the countryside.
"The Southern Plains are very parched, especially parts of Kansas," FOX Weather meteorologist Britta Merwin said. "We have exceptional drought conditions across the state of Kansas, and we're looking at a critical and elevated threat for wildfire risk."
The National Weather Service in Albuquerque, New Mexico, said widespread critical fire weather conditions are expected late Friday morning through the early evening from the northeast and central Highlands to the Oklahoma and Texas borders.
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The FOX Forecast Center said strong southwesterly winds of 30 to 50 mph will develop from southeastern Colorado and eastern New Mexico to the Southern Plains into Friday afternoon and evening. With very dry conditions in place and strong winds, any fires that do develop would spread rapidly.
The strongest winds are likely during the early afternoon hours. Even though readings will be cooler Friday than Thursday, the NWS said minimum humidities are expected to drop into the 8 to 15% range.
"High Wind Warnings in effect for the panhandle of Texas and New Mexico, also in southeast Kansas," Merwin said. "These are the areas that we could have particularly strong wind gusts."
"We are heading into this time of the season where we get these strong winds across the Southern and Central Plains, but this is our first taste of it," she added.
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The NWS said Saturday will be a quieter day for much of New Mexico. The exception will be across the northeast Plains where single-digit humidities should combine with gusty winds, although not as strong as Friday.
There could be a risk for critical fire weather conditions Saturday over the east-central Plains, but confidence in coverage and duration is still unclear, the NWS said.