Posted at 8:27 AM on October 4, 2011
by Paul Huttner
Red Flag Warning: Issued for southwest Minnesota through Wednesday
Say what? What the heck is a "Red Flag Warning" anyway? More common in the west, Red Flag Warnings are not issued often in Minnesota.
NWS issues them for a combination of high winds (sustained over 15mph) low humidity (under 20%) and warm temps (over 75 degrees). Open buring is not permitted, and farmes and others are urged to watch for sparks that can start fires in tinder dry brush.
Red Flag Warning
URGENT - FIRE WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
121 AM CDT TUE OCT 4 2011
...STRONG SOUTHERLY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY DURING THE AFTERNOON
HOURS TODAY AND WEDNESDAY...
.A RED FLAG WARNING CONTINUES FOR PORTIONS OF WEST CENTRAL AND
SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA FROM NOON TODAY UNTIL 7 PM ON WEDNESDAY.
THE WARNING IS ALONG AND WEST OF A LINE FROM ALEXANDRIA TO
FAIRMONT. THE RED FLAG CONDITIONS WILL OCCUR MAINLY DURING THE
AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING HOURS TODAY AND WEDNESDAY. GUSTY
SOUTHERLY WINDS OF 20 TO 30 MPH WILL OCCUR ACROSS THE WARNING AREA
DURING THE AFTERNOON AND EARLY EVENING HOURS TODAY AND WEDNESDAY
ALONG WITH HUMIDITY VALUES LOWERING TO 20 PERCENT OR LESS.
GRASSES..BRUSH AND CROPS ARE DRY IN THESE AREAS AND FIRES COULD
SPREAD QUICKLY UNDER THESE CONDITIONS.
DOUGLAS-STEVENS-POPE-LAC QUI PARLE-SWIFT-CHIPPEWA-KANDIYOHI-
INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...ALEXANDRIA...MORRIS...GLENWOOD...
OLIVIA...REDWOOD FALLS...NEW ULM...ST. JAMES...FAIRMONT
121 AM CDT TUE OCT 4 2011
...RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 7 PM CDT
WEDNESDAY FOR WIND AND LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY FOR PORTIONS OF WEST
CENTRAL THROUGH SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA...
A RED FLAG WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM NOON TODAY TO 7 PM CDT
* AFFECTED AREA...WEST CENTRAL AND SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA ALONG
AND WEST OF A LINE FROM ALEXANDRIA TO FAIRMONT.
* WINDS...SOUTH 10 TO 20 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 30 MPH.
* RELATIVE HUMIDITY...NEAR OR BELOW 20 PERCENT.
* IMPACTS...FIRES COULD BECOME DANGEROUS AND FAST MOVING IN A
SHORT PERIOD OF TIME DUE TO THE GUSTY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY.
A RED FLAG WARNING MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS
ARE EITHER OCCURRING NOW...OR WILL SHORTLY. A COMBINATION OF
STRONG WINDS...LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AND WARM TEMPERATURES WILL
CREATE EXPLOSIVE FIRE GROWTH POTENTIAL.
Summer "heat" hangs on this week:
The warm, dry, stable ridge of high pressure stays parked over Minnesota this week.
Look for highs into the low to mid 80s in much of southern and western Minnesota to hold through Thursday and into Friday.
Record highs possible?
We may flirt with a few record high temps this week in Minnesota and the metro.
Here are the record highs this week at MSP Airport:
Tuesday 89 degrees (1922)
Wednesday 87 degrees (1879)
Thursday 87 degrees (2007)
Friday 85 degrees (2003)
I would say right now Friday may have the best chance of tying or exceeding record highs in the metro this week, but considering the average high is 63 degrees, we're living in (warm) rarified air in Minnesota these days.
USA 2011: Crazy Summer of weather records
According to NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, the summer of 2011 in the USA set the most high temperature records of any summer in over a decade.
Some incredible numbers:
26,500 new record warm temperatures in the USA this summer
3,500 new record lows
Texas: Hottest summer of any state on record since 1895-hotter than Dust Bowl years
Oklahoma was second, aslo smashing Dust Bowl Era records
Texas set 4,000 high temperature record in August alone...that's about as many records as an average summer in the entire USA!
The parameters for a red flag warning vary from state to state. In Minnesota it is wind equal to or greater than 20 mph, (25 mph in the western area); relative humidity equal to or less than 25%; temperature greater than 75 degrees.
These are spelled out in the fire weather operating plan on the NWS web site under fire weather. http://www.crh.noaa.gov/images/mpx/MinnesotaFireWxPlan2011.pdf