After record-breaking heat followed by wintry chill, temperatures are expected to return to normal in the Pikes Peak region and beyond — potentially fueling wildfires across the state.
Rising temperatures and clear, sunny skies are expected in Colorado Springs on Friday and into the weekend after the city tied record lows Wednesday and Thursday.
Colorado Springs hit a low of 30 degrees early Wednesday, matching a record for the day set in 1941. On Thursday, the city dipped to a low of 32 degrees, tying the 122-year-old record low for Sept. 10 set in 1898. The cold front struck after Colorado Springs set a record high for the day of 97 degrees Sunday.
Friday is forecast to be mostly sunny with a high near 69 degrees and calm winds around 5 mph. The evening will be clear with a low around 43 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Temperatures will continue rising through the weekend and could hit up to 82 degrees Monday.
Saturday will be sunny with a high near 77 degrees and winds between 5 to 10 mph. Sunday will also be sunny, with highs near 80 degrees.
And while plummeting temperatures and snowfall this week provided respite for firefighters battling Colorado’s major fires, the return of hotter temperatures this weekend could wake up the Cameron Peak Fire west of Fort Collins, officials said.
“Fire will trigger as the days begin to warm up, winds rise and humidity decreases later this week and smoke will become more visible,” according to a Facebook post Thursday from the fire's incident management team.
The blaze, which spread into remote portions of Rocky Mountain National Park early this week, remained at 102,596 acres in size and 4% contained as of Thursday evening, unchanged since Tuesday. Crews made progress this week thanks to heavy snowfall, up to 14 inches in the high country. But as the heat returns, logs and dead trees will start to dry out and continue to fuel the fire, said Paul Bruggink, a spokesman for the incident management team.
Near the southern zone of the fire near Rocky Mountain National Park, crews focused on identifying areas of high risk and scouting fire lines at lower elevations. The area has been difficult and dangerous to access, fire officials have said.
The Pine Gulch Fire near Grand Junction, the largest wildfire in Colorado history, remained at 139,007 acres and 95% contained as of Thursday night, unchanged since Tuesday.
Recent precipitation in the area “has increased confidence in containment and fire management, so many firefighters and fire extinguishers have been released from the fire,” according to an official update on Facebook.
The Grizzly Creek Fire burning in Glenwood Canyon remained at 91% contained, unchanged for 12 days. The fire was estimated at 32,431 acres Thursday, a 33-acre drop due to more accurate mapping, said Grizzly Creek Fire spokeswoman Mina Bolton.
“We’re working really hard to create a deep fire line that will hold fire activity,” Bolton said.