5-day streak of high temps

Records breaking; fires popping up

Jim Tarr, right, of Grand Junction sails his Dragon Force 65 sailboat Saturday in the small lake across the road from the dog park at Canyon View Park while his friend and sailing partner, Roy Shults, also of Grand Junction, applies sunscreen before launching his own sailboat. Tarr, who is the commodore of the Western Slope Model Yacht Club 344, said club members meet at the lake every Saturday about 10 a.m., weather permitting, to sail their boats. The boats are strictly wind-powered; the remote Tarr is using only controls the sail and rudder.

Soaring spring temperatures in Grand Junction this past week tied or broke previous record highs for five days in a row, according to the National Weather Service — a fact that likely did not go unnoticed by most people across the Grand Valley, who got out in full force to take advantage of the warm early season weather.

It’s the first five-day streak of record highs since 1956, though the streak will likely end today, according to John Kyle, data acquisition program manager with the National Weather Service.

“We’re still going to be quite a bit above normal, but we’re probably not expecting to break the record (today),” Kyle said.

The record high for March 19 is 81 degrees in 1907.

The mix of conditions had fire agencies scrambling across the region Saturday.

Eleven local fire agencies responded to 15 brush fires between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Saturday, according to Grand Junction Fire Department spokeswoman Ellis Thompson-Ellis.

Thompson-Ellis said the recent outbreak of brush fires — crews have responded to numerous scenes in the past few days — is likely because of extremely dry conditions, not the unusually warm weather.

“It’s incredibly dry and it’s windy, which is normal for March, but we’ve had no moisture,” she said. “People are really surprised at how fast fire spreads and gets out of control.”

The fires were a mix of controlled burns that got out of control and fires started by machinery or welding equipment.

“Be ready to put out a fire if you’re doing a controlled burn or working with machinery outside,” Thompson-Ellis said.

Kyle said western Colorado and eastern Utah are currently drought-free, though long-range data show an increased likelihood of above-normal temperatures throughout the spring and summer.

Spring and summer predictions don’t show an increased or decreased likelihood of rain, Kyle said.


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