Red Flag Warnings in Colorado


Juliette Eckle, Author

This past week Colorado has gotten two red flag warnings which are severe weather alerts. A red flag warning means there are warm temperatures, very low humidities, and stronger winds that are expected to increase the risk of fire danger. Some areas don’t allow people to burn things, such as a bonfire or a grill. If you are allowed to burn in your area, all burn barrels must be covered with a metal-weighted cover, with holes not larger than ¾ of an inch. It is recommended to never leave any fire unattended because any tiny spark can blow into dry grass and ignite a life-threatening wildfire. 

Last Sunday, March 4th, there was a red flag warning effect from 11 am to 6 pm for Broomfield and the lower elevations of Boulder and Jefferson counties. The wind speeds were assumed to be up to 45 mph, the NWS (National Weather Service) said. The Denver metro area and southern Lincoln County were also under red flag warnings with gusts up to 50 mph! The West Metro Fire department told FOX31, “tomorrow we will be at a higher preparedness level during the red flag warning. Which means we will have extra resources available.” Officials recommended civilians tie down any loose furniture, and bring light outside objects inside like lawn chairs that could blow away.

Yesterday, March 9th there was another warning with dry winds blowing from the Western mountains. The strongest wind was expected between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. The warning also stretches South along the I-25 corridor into Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Walsenburg, and Trinidad. The winds are not as dangerous as in the past but regardless there are still many hazards and fire can spread quickly with no notice. The winds were able to calm down on Thursday afternoon. Thursday is not as crucial compared to when fire danger has encroached into the urban corridor. For example, on the day of the Marshall Fire in Boulder County in December 2021, wind gusts were over 100 mph.

While I have said previously that it’s important to be prepared, it’s not helpful to panic. Colorado is usually a dry state and this is more common than you might think. What is happening now is pretty typical, especially in the fall and spring. It’s great to be cautious about these conditions but don’t let them scare you!