Hot. Dry. Don’t start a fire.
That is the forecast — and the message — from the National Weather Service for the extended July 4 weekend.
Mark Faucett, a meteorologist with the NWS Reno office, said temperatures will be slightly above average for this time of year. While the forecast may be ideal for outdoor activities, Faucett cautioned the forecast isn’t ideal for preventing fires.
“It has been hot and dry for an extended period,” Faucett said. “Be careful doing anything outside because of dry grass. Everybody needs to be aware of their surroundings and the fire potential.”
The average high this time of year is in the upper 80s, Faucett said, while the average low is in the mid 50s. The forecast calls for temperatures to be above average, but not greatly.
There’s a slight chance of thunderstorms Sunday — 10 percent, Faucett said — and that increases to 15 percent late Monday into Tuesday as a “weak trough” moves through the region.
“We may see some clouds build up but it doesn’t look like we’ll get any thunderstorms,” Faucett said.
Faucett’s concern about fire potential appears well-founded: AccuWeather reported Thursday several devastating fires already raging in the western United States, and hot and dry weather will only exacerbate the danger through Independence Day.
Many areas in the Southwest haven’t received any rainfall this month.
However, for many of these locations, a lack of rainfall isn’t rare for this time of year. What is rare is the frequent bouts of gusty winds and the recent long-lasting and deadly heat wave.
Unfortunately, little relief is in sight.
“Warm, dry weather will continue in the Southwest through the weekend. In addition, winds will become gusty each afternoon,” said AccuWeather meteorologist Ryan Adamson.
These conditions are prime for fanning a spark or small fire into a large-scale fire.
“Residents and visitors need to be mindful of these dry conditions by taking precautions such as avoiding discarding of cigarettes out car windows and making sure that any campfires are completely extinguished before leaving the site,” Adamson advised.
The abundance of rainfall led to a dramatic boom in foliage, which has begun to dry out in the hot sunshine and is potential fuel for any wildfire.
“While some thunderstorms may be possible in areas of the Rockies and points eastward, most of the moisture will miss out on areas currently battling wildfires,” said Adamson.
“The only relief Mother Nature will offer will be at night when winds diminish and the relative humidity rises slightly.”