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Showers packing more wind than rain move across Pikes Peak region

June 13, 2013 Updated: June 17, 2013 at 8:36 am
Due to number of hot spots on this map older browser/computers may have trouble loading the map. We recommend using Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox to view this map.

Satellite Detected Fires

Outline of burned area     Active fires spotted by satellite

Source: U.S. Forest Service MODIS, AVHRR and GOES satellite data; GeoMAC Wildfire Support

Hot spots based on data from three types of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellites: MODIS, GOES and AVHRR. The map shows all hot spots detected by satellite since the beginning of the Black Forest fire. Many of those hot spots have since been extinguished.

Note: The Gazette is still watching for updates from the Black Forest fire that would change this map, but the fire has calmed considerably and no new updates are anticipated at this time.

High-based showers that evaporate as they fall and bring more wind than rain moved across the Pikes Peak region Thursday evening.

'When it evaporates, it cools. When it cools, it accelerates downward. We're seeing gusty winds from these and that's all we're going to see,' said Mark Wankowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo.

Wind gusts recorded in southwest Colorado Springs were 40 mph, he said.

Another batch of storms moving across Salida could possibly move across the Pikes Peak region but end between 8 p.m. or 9 p.m. After that, Wankowski said the region could expect clearing skies and light southwesterly winds across the Colorado Springs from 9 p.m. until Friday morning.

There are storms up across northeastern Colorado, northeast of Denver, some pretty good thunderstorms, and those storms could bring in some low-level moisture to the area through the early morning hours. But right now, we're just kind of watching where they're going," he said. "That would be a good, good thing for the fire to see the low-level moisture increase."

Earlier, thunderstorms that developed near the Black Forest fire produced wind and dry lightning, but precious little rain.

The storms brought "gusty and erratic winds," a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said at 4 p.m. Thursday.

Winds in Colorado Springs were gusting southward up to 38 mph. The Air Force Academy reported ightning in the distance to the north.

The weather service issued a red flag warning again Thursday, starting at 11 a.m. until 7 p.m.

As of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, the weather service did not anticipate issuing a red flag warning for Friday, citing an afternoon cool front that will likely pass along the Palmer Divide and bring with it increased humidity, a spokesman said.

The forecast for Friday includes a 20 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms in the afternoon and a high near 87.

Winds are expected to be around 10 mph.

The weather dictated everything Wednesday and will again on Thursday, Sheriff Terry Maketa said at a Thursday morning news conference.

"The wind is probably our No. 1 threat," Maketa said. "It has been a game changer. It was very dynamic. And winds today are supposed to pick up and continue on the next few days."

Fire restrictions are expanding. Effective immediately in the Pike and San Isabel national forests, Stage 1 fire restrictions are in place. That includes El Paso County and 13 other counties.

No open fires are allowed in the forest unless they are in a permanent fire pit or grate in a developed recreation site. Fully enclosed portable stoves are permitted.

The ban includes smoking unless in an area clear of flammable materials. Chainsaws used in the forest must have an approved spark arrester and a chemical fire extinguisher must be nearby. The ban also includes explosives such as fireworks.

Ditto for Manitou Springs, where Fire Chief Keith Buckmiller imposed restrictions on open fires, open burning and fireworks.

No open campfires, warming fires, charcoal grill fires, fires in wood-burning stoves or grates, fused explosives or fireworks of all types are permitted.

Open fires and open burning during a period of high fire danger is prohibited along with smoking of cigarettes, cigars or pipes outdoors anywhere but along Manitou Avenue.

Tossing a lighted butt also is prohibited.

Restrictions do not apply to gas-fueled grills used outdoors or to fires within liquid-fueled or gas-fueled stoves.

They also do not apply to fireplaces within buildings, fires in wood-burning stoves or fireplaces within private residences.

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