According to the latest release from the U.S. Drought Monitor on April 7, 2011, a severe to extreme drought is affecting a large area from Louisiana and Arkansas to Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado.

In addition to causing significant crop damage, the drought has also been contributing to an extreme risk of wildfires over the past couple of months, especially from western Texas into Oklahoma and Colorado.

Wildfires in western Texas over this past weekend reportedly scorched more than 230,000 acres and destroyed approximately 80 homes and buildings. The threat of wildfires is likely to remain high across the region through the rest of the spring and summer with drier-than-normal conditions predicted.

The fire danger becomes especially high when storm systems kick up high winds across the area. Gusty wind events tend to be more common during the spring than summer. For much of the rest of this week, areas from New Mexico into western Texas will remain at an elevated risk with gusty winds in the forecast.