Snow started falling on Colorado’s two biggest wildfires Sunday in a much-needed storm that is expected to dampen the fires and slow their ferocious spread for at least a few days.
The northern parts of the Cameron Peak fire saw between three and five inches of snow by Sunday morning, while the southern parts of the fire saw about two to four inches, incident meteorologist Dan Byrd said in a morning update.
The snow hadn’t reached Estes Park by 9 a.m., he said, and temperatures around the East Troublesome fire remained in the 40s early Sunday morning.
However, the cold front will move to the south as the day goes on, Byrd said, and the area around the East Troublesome fire should see temperatures drop by Sunday afternoon, and then see some snow in the afternoon and evening, Byrd said.
By Monday, he expects between 12 and 18 inches of snow to have fallen on the northern part of the Cameron Peak fire, and between eight to 12 inches of snow on the southeast parts of the fire, as well as the area around Estes Park and the East Troublesome fire.
“Most of the fire, we’ll see conditions below zero tonight,” Byrd said. “Between five to seven below zero, and single digit temperatures in the lower elevations.”
Temperatures will stay cold Monday, but rise into the 30s by Tuesday, he said.
Fire officials expect the snow to “significantly” decrease fire activity “in the short term,” but said extended precipitation will be needed to fully extinguish the fire, according to an update from incident commander Dan Dallas. Fire activity could increase again this week as temperatures rise and the areas start to dry out again.
On Sunday, the Cameron Peak fire had burned 208,663 acres and was about 61% contained. It is burning in the Roosevelt National Forest west of Fort Collins and is the largest recorded wildfire in state history.
Firefighters saw windy conditions Saturday, with increased fire behavior west of Pingree Park, near the Comanche Reservoir, the North Folk Trail and west of Glen Haven. Firefighters focused on structure protection, and on strengthening containment lines.
The East Troublesome fire, which is burning southwest of the Cameron Peak fire just north of Granby and into Rocky Mountain National Park, had burned 192,560 acres and was 10% contained Sunday.
Wind there Saturday drove the fire east, forcing new evacuations for Estes Park. Firefighters took a defensive approach Saturday because of the dangerous conditions, focusing on structure protection and strengthening indirect containment lines near Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.
Firefighters have been able to hold the fire west of Bear Lake Road. The fire is not expected to spread Sunday because of the anticipated snow.
Click markers for details, use buttons to change what wildfires are shown. Map data is automatically updated by government agencies and could lag real-time events. Incident types are numbered 1-5 — a type 1 incident is a large, complex wildfire affecting people and critical infrastructure, a type 5 incident is a small wildfire with few personnel involved. Find more information about incident types at the bottom of this page.
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