Grand County is in store for a hot, dry Labor Day Weekend before temperatures plunge next week with a chance for snow.
Right now, a high pressure system over Utah and Nevada is moving east into Colorado, and the National Weather Service is predicting highs in the 80s Saturday and Sunday with light winds around 5-10 mph.
Fire managers battling the Williams Fork blaze in southern Grand County also have their attention fixed on the weather forecast, and they have warned residents the high pressure system will likely push a wealth of hot, dry air over the fire, allowing for the possibility of red flag weather conditions this weekend.
The Williams Fork Fire is burning about seven miles southwest of Fraser. The blaze is more than three weeks old and over 12,000 acres. The area around the Henderson Mill has been contained, and the fire is not expected to threaten Fraser, Tabernash or Winter Park.
On Labor Day, there’s some precipitation in the forecast, as Monday is expected to be breezy in the mid-70s with a slight chance for afternoon rain before more rainfall sets in before 4 a.m. Tuesday.
That rain is expected to turn into snow after 4 a.m. Tuesday, according to the NWS. That’s because a cold front from eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska is poised to drop into northeast Colorado late Monday and then central Colorado on Tuesday.
With it, widespread snow and colder temperatures are forecast across north central Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday.
A spokesperson for the Williams Fork Fire management team described any precipitation as a good thing when it comes to increasing the moisture content of the dense beetle-kill trees and other fuels feeding the fire, but she said it likely won’t put out the fire.
The rain that fell on the fire last week kept its growth at bay and prevented the blaze from experiencing extreme activity, like when the Williams Fork Fire first broke out and quickly spread to thousands of acres.
However, even with last week’s rainfall and the precipitation in the forecast next week, it probably won’t extinguish the blaze, the spokesperson explained.
She said that another hot, dry spell could kick the fire back up to high activity, and there could be a lot of fire season left, not just for Grand County, but across the state.
While the fire is expected to continue burning well after next week, the spokesperson said that, as the moisture content in the fuels increases, fire managers could look at the possibility of reducing resources and going into more of a monitoring status.