Feb 14, 2014 8:16 PM by John Patrick

Record temps draw big crowds, wildfire concerns

TUCSON - Record temperatures are bringing big crowds to this weekend's events but raising red flags for wildfire season

With the Tucson Gem Show, the 89th annual Tucson Rodeo and Accenture Match Play on the way this warm winter weather is here just in time.

A forecast high of 88° on Saturday will be the warmest we've seen on February 15 since 1957. Deborah Barnett with the Tucson Rodeo says our record breaking heat may just be the reason for record breaking crowds.

"The weather forecast we have predicted has boosted our pre-sales. We're up about 15%," says Barnett.

The Tucson Rodeo normally welcomes 60,000 visitors over the course of their six shows but Barnett is hoping for a banner year.

"This is going to be, I would venture to say, a record first weekend when it comes to attendance," explains Barnett.

Still not everyone sees the heat as a good thing, including Arizona resident Linda Kappel. She worries that this is just a glimpse into what the summer is going to bring.

Kappel says, "We don't have enough snowpack up north, we don't have enough rain in the desert and we don't get some soon it's going to be a long and hot summer."

The Climate Prediction Center is starting to paint that picture across the southwest with a 50% chance of experiencing above average temperatures and a 40% chance of below average rainfall over the next few months.

Heidi Schewel with Coronado National Forest says they are preparing for a blazing wildfire season.

"We're looking at the potential for volatile fire behavior. Conditions are already such that we're experiencing wildfires," explains Schewel.

In fact, two 3.5 acre fires have already sparked up in the Santa Catalinas this year, something we wouldn't normally have seen until spring.

Schewel explains, "Up at that elevation it is very unusual for this time of year. There is usually snowpack up there right now."

This stretch of record breaking or record tying temperatures will stick around until early next week. Check out your True View 4 extended forecast by clicking here.


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