A change in the weather pattern will bring about improved conditions for battling and containing the growing wildfires.

Over the weekend, a dry cold front moving through Southcentral Alaska from the Interior brought dry, gusting winds. At times, wind gusts topped 50 miles per hour across the region. This caused many wildfires to grow rapidly.

Smoke from the growing wildfires dropped air quality to dangerous levels. The air quality index climbed beyond very unhealthy to hazardous levels close to both the Swan Lake Fire on the Kenai Peninsula and the Mckinley Fire near Willow.

Smoke from the Swan Lake Fire spread into Anchorage early Monday, bumping the air quality index to unhealthy levels across town.

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As the storm that was responsible for the powerful wind moves off the coast, conditions will improve. Through Monday, the wind will calm down across Southcentral— becoming light and variable by the afternoon.

Driest Summer on Record 

2019 has been the driest summer on record for much of Southcentral. Anchorage alone has received about half the moisture it saw in the previous driest summer on record. The lack of rain put Anchorage, parts of the Kenai Peninsula, and Prince William Sound under severe drought for the first time in history.

Weather, drought, dry days ahead

The dry vegetation gives the fires' fuel to spread more. This means any plant life near the blazes will easily ignite.

The forecast in the coming days remains dry. The lack of any major storm in the region means the wind will not be as big a factor as it was over the weekend.

The extended forecast for Southcentral Alaska calls for more warm, dry weather in the coming weeks. Meaning drought will continue and fire danger will remain very high.

KTVA has comprehensive coverage across Southcentral. Check back here as the story develops and get live updates from the KTVA Facebook page.

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