Wind, Dry Conditions Elevate Threat Of Brush Fires

High heat that has been baking much of California, Nevada and the Four Corners states this summer will make a push into the northwestern United States and western Canada this week.

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Typical summertime warmth was replaced with stifling heat in the Pacific Northwest on Tuesday. By Wednesday, these conditions are expected to overspread the interior Northwest as well as much of the Cordillera region and Interior Plains of Canada.

Temperatures in areas as far north as Calgary, Alberta, are forecast to reach within a few degrees of 100 F (38 C) later this week. A new all-time record high for the city could be set.

Anyone spending time outdoors should be sure to stay well hydrated and protected from the sun, and to spend as much time in the shade and air conditioning as possible.

In addition to the threat of heat-related illness and increased stress on the power grid, the heat this week will provide an opportunity for new wildfires to form.

"While a lot of the wildfire focus is on California, there are numerous fires burning in the northwestern U.S. as well," AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

The dry weather, strong sunshine and baking heat will greatly increase the threat of new wildfires through much of the week. Air quality will continue to be a concern as wildfire smoke accumulates, trapped in the lower levels of the atmosphere.

A change in the weather pattern at the end of the week will offer heat relief and a few spotty showers, but little in the way of firefighting aid.

"While there will be a significant cooldown for the region, there will also be an increase in winds," Duffey warned.

This could make for a volatile period of rapidly spreading fires this weekend.

Duffey stressed that the uncertainty in wind direction will add another layer of unpredictability of any spreading wildfires.

"This creates a dangerous situation for wildland firefighters in the region," he said.

Anyone living or traveling through the western half of North America should take care to stay up to date on local watches, warnings and alerts and be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice. Adventurers spending time in the backcountry should be aware of their surroundings and have a plan in the event that evacuation becomes necessary.

Fires can spread devastatingly quickly through the dry forests and brush, even overnight. Download the free AccuWeather app for the latest weather information wherever you are.

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