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Winds bring smoke from New Mexico fires to Southwest Colorado skies

Tuesday afternoon wind shift should bring clearing
The haze seen in the Animas Valley on Tuesday morning is coming from smoke blown in from a two fires burning west of Albuquerque.

The smoke-filled sky in Durango is likely tied to fires burning in western New Mexico, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Junction.

On Tuesday, many residents in Southwest Colorado woke to a hazy ski, the appearance of which usually comes with a fire.

Megan Stackhouse, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said the cause of smoke in the sky in Durango stems from southwesterly winds bringing haze to Southwest Colorado from two fires burning in New Mexico.

Wildfire Today reported that two fires in western New Mexico – the Bluewater and Diener Canyon fires – have burned more than 9,000 acres in the Cibola National Forest.

The Diener Canyon Fire, according to Wildfire Today, started April 12 from when an escaped prescribed fire got out of control and has grown to 6,682 acres. KOB-TV reported late Tuesday that fire is about 20 to 25 percent contained.

The Bluewater Fire, at 2,532 acres, is burning about four miles north of the Diener Canyon Fire. KOB-TV reported that fire is about 10 percent contained.

The fires are about a two-hours drive west of Albuquerque. Pre-evacuation notices had been lifted late Tuesday.

Stackhouse said by Tuesday afternoon, the winds in Durango should shift to a northwesterly flow, taking with it the smoke-filled skies.

The change in winds is a result of a cold front moving into Southwest Colorado.

Tuesday is expected to be mostly sunny in Durango, with a high near 57. Wind gusts could reach up to 40 mph, the weather service said. Overnight lows are forecast to be around 22 degrees with blustery winds.

Durango Fire Protection District announced Tuesday all burn permits are suspended because of critical fire conditions. Agricultural burning, which doesn’t require a permit, is highly discouraged, the fire district said.

Winds should die down Wednesday, with another sunny day and highs near 60 degrees.

The end of the week holds the chance for precipitation Thursday and Friday. The weekend is forecast to be sunny and clear.


Apr 17, 2018
Forecasters warn of rare, life-threatening wildfire weather

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