Red flag warning issued for Northwest Colorado

Low humidity and high winds combine to make dangerous wildfire conditions

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— High winds, low humidity and an abundance of dry fuels are combining to make for particularly dangerous wildfire conditions today.

The National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for the Northwest Colorado forecast area, including Moffat and Routt counties, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today. A red flag warning means "critical fire weather conditions are either occurring now ... or will shortly. A combination of strong winds ... low relative humidity ... and warm temperatures will create explosive fire growth potential," according to the National Weather Service.

Today's forecast for Steamboat Springs includes a high temperature of 73 degrees with east winds 10 to 15 mph increasing to 25 to 30 mph. Gusts could be as high as 40 mph.

There are no wildfires burning in Northwest Colorado, but officials have warned that dry conditions and pine beetle-killed forests are creating dangerous fire conditions for the region. Last week, Gov. Bill Ritter said Northwest Colorado faces a higher risk of wildfire this year because of the volume of beetle-killed trees.

In addition to the red flag warning, the National Weather Service has issued a flood advisory for the Elk River near Milner. At 11:15 a.m. Monday the river stage was 5.3 feet. Flood stage is at 7 feet. The Weather Service forecasts the river to rise to 6.0 feet today and 6.2 feet Wednesday.

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