Risk of lower-elevation wildfires increases amid warm, dry weather across much of Wyoming

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CHEYENNE, Wyoming — The risk of grass fires has spiked amid a spell of unusually warm and dry weather, leading officials to warn Tuesday of high fire danger in southeast Wyoming as winds whip up to 50 mph.

The advisory from the National Weather Service covers an area between Glendo and Pine Bluffs. The state has seen several grass and range fires lately, including a small one that came within a few hundred feet of South High School in Cheyenne.

Other small blazes have broken out in recent days in the Chugwater area Jackson Hole.

"We are a little concerned with these pre-greenup grass fires," State Forester Bill Crapser said. "I think we're going to continue seeing that activity until we see some spring moisture."

A fair amount of snow sits at higher elevations, so the risk of forest fires is low for now. But moisture in mountain snow is below normal in much of Wyoming.

"That said, as far as what that means for next summer, it depends on what April and May brings us, and as well as June and July," Crapser said.

As of Tuesday, mountain snow was somewhat below normal in all of Wyoming except upstream of the Upper Green River, Powder River and Bighorn basins.

Just outside Jackson, avalanches and snow too soggy for good snowmobiling forced organizers to cancel the annual World Championship Snowmobile Hill Climb this weekend at Snow King ski area. Snow King and nearby Jackson Hole Mountain Resort have had to close some terrain but remain open.

Light snow fell Tuesday across western Wyoming, but warm and dry weather has been the recent pattern in Jackson Hole, Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs said.

"We look like a whole month ahead of normal spring melt," Skaggs said. "We just didn't have much of a winter, and it's melting fast."

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