June 9 -- Elevated to critical fire conditions are expected to span across several states from California to Texas into Tuesday evening.
New growth from grass and brush from the early spring has already begun to dry out across much of the region in response to persistent heat and mainly dry weather conditions in recent weeks.
Temperatures surged past 100 degrees and even topped the 110-degree mark during late May and the first few days of June in some locations. At this level, temperatures were 10 degrees above average or more on a few days.
The period from late April to early June is typically very dry across the deserts, prior to the beginning of the North American monsoon, when higher humidity levels can help to fuel locally drenching thunderstorms.
Even though some cooler air has now swept into the region, gusty winds and very dry air will increase the risk of existing wildfires to spread and new wildfires to ignite.
"The winds are being produced in the wake of a potent storm system that sparked severe weather over the Intermountain West and the northern High Plains over the weekend," AccuWeather Meteorologist Tiffany Fortier said.
Multiple small fires were sparked by recent dry lightning in the region, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Image by AccuWeather
The Blue River and Dry Lake fires in the San Carlos Apache reservation of Arizona began from dry lightning strikes on Friday, according to the National Wildfire Coordinating Group. The combined fires have burned nearly 19,000 acres.
The Sawtooth Fire, which also started from dry lightning on May 30, has consumed nearly 25,000 acres in the Mazatzal Mountains, east of Phoenix. This fire is about 81 percent contained.
On Tuesday, the overall zone of gusty winds will shrink, as will the elevated and critical fire risk area, when compared to Monday. About 86,000 square miles will be in a critical fire risk, as opposed to a little over 256,000 square miles under this category on Monday, according to the SPC.
"Winds in general will not be as strong as Monday with most gusts ranging between 20 and 30 mph," Fortier said. "But, even at this speed, any fires can be pushed along at a fast pace."
An elevated fire threat will continue over part of Southern California, including the Los Angeles area on Tuesday. Image by AccuWeather