High winds, fire threat and severe weather on tap for central US this weekend

Over 30 million people are under wind and critical fire danger alerts.

April 6, 2024, 4:12 PM

The central United States is expected to face multiple weather threats this weekend, from high winds to fire to severe storms, as a powerful storm system moves across the region.

Over 30 million people across more than a dozen states, from Texas to North Dakota, are under wind and critical fire danger alerts as the large storm system slowly makes its way eastward across the central U.S.

In this undated file photo, electrical towers are shown at sunset in Denver, Colorado.
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Wind gusts of 40-60 mph on in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday in several states as the storm system sweeps across the region. Portions of the central Rockies could see wind gusts over 80 mph in the higher elevations.

A high wind warning is in effect for cities including Denver; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Amarillo, Texas.

PHOTO: Western storm graphic
ABC News

More than 3 million people across five states are also facing critical fire weather Saturday, with gusty winds and dry weather enhancing the risk of quickly-spreading wildfires. Parts of southeastern Colorado, western Kansas and the Oklahoma Panhandle are in the extreme fire weather risk area, with relative humidity dropping below 10% and winds gusting over 60 mph.

Xcel Energy Colorado said it is shutting off power to a number of customers across the suburbs and foothills west of Denver Saturday afternoon into Sunday due to the "high risk of wind-driven wildfires." The affected counties include Boulder, Jefferson, Douglas, Broomfield, Larimer and Gilpin.

As of Sunday morning, more than 310,000 customers in Colorado were without power, according to Poweroutage.us.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre, near Denver, canceled its outdoor concert Saturday night "due to dangerous wind conditions."

PHOTO: Windy weekend weather graphic
ABC News

Conditions are expected to improve slightly on Sunday in terms of wind and fire danger. However, parts of the Plains will still see strong, gusty winds and dry conditions bringing a lingering fire danger in some locations.

Additionally, this storm system could trigger scattered, strong to severe thunderstorms late Saturday afternoon and into the evening across parts of Nebraska and Kansas. Damaging winds, large hail and an isolated tornado are possible.

PHOTO: fire weather graphic
ABC News

This same storm system is expected to bring the threat of severe thunderstorms across parts of the South, including much of Texas, on Monday. The timing looks to be after the historic total solar eclipse, with scattered storms likely flaring up during the late afternoon and continuing into the early evening hours. Very large hail, damaging wind gusts and an isolated tornado or two could occur.

Elsewhere, winter alerts are in effect Saturday across parts of the Rockies, where the spring snow has helped to extend the ski season. Areas of heavy mountain snow continue to hit parts of the Rockies. Some areas could see over a foot of snow along with strong winds triggering blowing snow and possibly impacting travel through some mountain passes.

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