From The Colorado Sun (Olivia Prentzel):
As drought conditions worsened on the Western Slope, the National Weather Service has issued its first “extremely critical” fire danger warning in 15 years for northwest Colorado.
The warning, in effect through midnight, covers parts of Moffat and Rio Blanco counties that also are in a state of “exceptional drought,” according to the weekly U.S. Drought Monitor report.
About 45% of Colorado, all west of the Continental Divide, now is in some state of drought, with 17.5% falling into the category of exceptional drought, up from 16.4% last week. Most of western Colorado, stretching from the Wyoming border south to New Mexico, falls into the two most severe categories, making the region at risk for extreme damage to crops, blows to the outdoor recreational industry and large wildfires.
The weather service also issued a red flag warning for the Western Slope Thursday as wind gusts between 35 to 55 mph could make a potential wildfire difficult to control, especially in northwest Colorado…
Water levels at McPhee Reservoir north of Cortez, which is fed by the Dolores River, are at their lowest in 35 years…
Northeast of Palisade, crews are battling the roughly 500-acre Beaver Tail fire. Fire crews on Tuesday suppressed a wildfire on Cottonwood Pass on Forest Service land near Gypsum. Smoke from large wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico is spreading across the Western Slope.