why/how strong wind causes wildfires in Colorado


why/how strong wind causes wildfires in Colorado

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The strong winds themselves don’t “cause” the wildfires – the fires still need an ignition source like lightening, etc to start

But strong winds create the ideal conditions for fires to both start and to spread

Firstly they will result in fuel (stuff that can burn) accumulating. It will blow leaves off trees, grass around, etc and often this will clump in particular places (e.g. around the bases of trees) and a big pile of flammable material is much more likely to catch fire and the fire will get intense quicker than if it is more spread out.

The wind also assists in drying out this fuel. The winds can carry away water vapor which results in stuff drying out quicker. And dry stuff burns better than wet stuff

Once the fire starts it also greatly helps in spreading the fire by blowing the flames in the direction of the wind giving them quicker and better access to more stuff that can burn.

More air also means oxygen going into a fire which allows the fire to burn more intensely (ever blown on a camp fire to help it get going?)

The strong winds will also pick up stuff that is still hot/burning from the main fire front and blow it to new areas and if these bits happen to land on something else that is flammable it can cause a new fire to start.

Strong wind can bring down electrical poles and other infrastructure that can spark, or carry sparks from a bonfire or other man made fire. The main issue with winds and fire is preexisting fires being accelerated by wind. The wind fuels the fire with more oxygen, and spreads the fire allowing it to consume more fuel (vegetation) on the ground. It also makes the fire more unpredictable and difficult to control.

Thank you! Can you elaborate on how those leaves or grass piled at tree based might catch fire other than a lightning strike?

In addition to the sources of ignition already mentioned, sunlight can be focused through glass bottles, just like a magnifying glass can. This has been credited as the source of some wildfires.