Wildland fire in Avon forces I-70 closure as temperatures soar in Eagle County
There is no relief in sight in the immediate forecast as drought conditions continue to worsen
A wildland fire in Avon has closed Interstate 70 in both directions at mile marker 167.
According to witnesses, there are multiple spot fires along the roadway. Traffic is backed up throughout Avon and is blocking the roundabouts.
There are currently no fire restrictions in Eagle County, but that could change quickly. Temperatures around western Colorado are smashing historic highs this week, and there isn’t much relief in sight both in the short-term forecast and in the long-term outlook for the summer, said Michael Charnick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.
“We’re near record level for pretty much all of our major towns across western Colorado,” Charnick said. “That’s going be continuing [Monday], tomorrow and Wednesday.”
Some isolated clouds may make an appearance in the mountains, Charnick said, but those clouds aren’t forecast to bring any rain.
Looking longer out, the trends continue to indicate that this summer will be very similar to last summer with a drier-than-normal forecast and slightly above-normal temperatures.
Looking at the current drought conditions for Eagle County, only a small sliver representing the southeast corner of the county is in severe drought, which is marked by low snowpack, low surface water levels and decreased streamflows.
The largest swath of the county — which includes Vail all the way down to Eagle — is in extreme drought, with conditions ripe for large fires and mandatory water restrictions a possibility.
Gypsum and the rest of the western end of the county are in exceptional drought conditions, the highest classification on the U.S. Drought Monitor.
“Exceptional drought is still very much alive and well in the West,” Charnick said. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t really look like any sort of major system is on the horizon.”
This story will be updated.
Ali Longwell and Sean Naylor contributed reporting.
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