On the heels of the announcement that this year's wildfire season could be worse than 2018, residents from California to New Mexico will face a heightened fire danger into Saturday.
A potent storm that whitened some of the higher terrain of the Rocky Mountains with snow on Thursday will fail to deliver rain to most of California and the desert Southwest. What the storm will lack in terms of rainfall will be replaced by strong, gusty winds.
Into Saturday, the strongest winds will focus on areas from the deserts of Southern California to New Mexico and neighboring parts of West Texas.
Within these zones, wind gusts of 30 to 45 mph will be common with a maximum of 60 mph. The strongest winds are anticipated each afternoon and early evening.
California's Sacramento Valley will also be subject to gusty winds into Saturday. Peak wind gusts here can reach 40 mph.
Dangerous crosswinds, especially for drivers of semi-trucks and campers, can develop on stretches of Interstates 10, 15, 17, 25 and 40. Air travelers can also experience flight delays and increased turbulence.
Motorists planning to travel through the deserts should remain aware of blowing dust and sudden poor visibility. This includes around Las Vegas; Phoenix and Tucson, Ariz.; and Las Cruces, N.M.
Blowing dust can be notorious for causing chain-reaction accidents.
"There can be a period of gusty winds from the north Friday night into Saturday morning around Las Vegas," according to AccuWeather senior meteorologist Brett Anderson.
The winds also threaten to spread new or existing wildfires.
While snow continues to cover the peaks of the Sierra Nevada, the lush vegetation that grew amid the wet winter and rare rainy May has dried out this month and will provide plenty of fuel for any wildfires that ignite not just into this weekend but through the entire wildfire season.
That is why a wet winter is always viewed as a double-edged sword for the region.
Residents and visitors should use extreme care when dealing with cigarette butts, campfires and any activity that involves sparks.
The winds may also cause sporadic tree damage and toss around loose lawn items. If trees down power lines, power outages will result and the sparks can also ignite a fire.
Downwind of the ongoing fires, the gusty conditions can create poor air quality and haze into this weekend.
The Woodbury Fire remains the largest wildfire in the southwestern United States, as of early Friday morning. The blaze has charred over 50,000 acres in the mountains east of Phoenix, according to Inciweb.
The Gila County Office of Emergency Management has announced a "SET" notification for residents of the Roosevelt and Roosevelt Lake areas due to the fire.
However, even a small brush fire that briefly gets out of hand can endanger lives and property.
One juvenile was injured when a brush fire broke out in Lake View Terrace, north of Los Angeles, on Wednesday evening, the Los Angeles Fire Department reported.
The winds are expected to ease late in the weekend before a dip in the jet stream sets up across the West and brings an extended period of dry, gusty winds and heightened fire danger to the interior Southwest most of next week.
While next week's pattern will once again heighten the fire danger, it will prevent searing summer heat from building.