Posted at 5:03 PM on September 18, 2012
by Paul Huttner
Filed under: Fire weather
61F - High at MSP Airport Tuesday
May 8th - last time MSP was this cool (60F)
"High" or "Very High" fire danger from the metro north this week
"High intensity characteristics" possible with any fires that start in northern Minnesota
"Fire Weather Watch" out for western Minnesota & Dakotas Wednesday
"Fire Weather" - Minnesota's new favorite weather term!
Sometimes it's hard to say if a unusual "weather" pattern is becoming a more frequent "climate" trend.
Fire Weather Watches? Again? For Minnesota?
Am I writing/broadcasting for MPR's vast news network about an unusual weather pattern...or a developing climate trend? Are the weather maps I'm looking at an aberration...or am I witnessing Minnesota climate change right before my very eyes?
You could certainly make the case that increased use of "Fire Weather" and "Red Flag" watches and warnings in Minnesota lately is part of a trend...a shift into a hotter and potentially drier climate.
Whatever the "big picture" answer is...the latest "Fire Weather Watch" is here for western Minnesota.
URGENT - FIRE WEATHER MESSAGE
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN
129 PM CDT TUE SEP 18 2012
...FIRE WEATHER WATCH IN EFFECT WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH WEDNESDAY EVENING FOR WEST CENTRAL THROUGH SOUTH CENTRAL MINNESOTA...
.A DRY COLD FRONT WILL MOVE ACROSS THE WATCH AREA WEDNESDAY MORNING. NORTHWEST WINDS FROM 20 TO 25 MPH WILL OCCUR IN THE AFTERNOON ALONG WITH GUSTS APPROACHING 35 MPH. RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES WILL LOWER INTO THE 20 TO 25 PERCENT RANGE DURING THIS TIME FRAME AS WELL. THE COMBINATION OF THE WIND AND LOW HUMIDITY MAY RESULT IN DANGEROUS FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS. THE FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS ALONG AND SOUTH OF A LINE FROM MORRIS TO ST. PETER TO ALBERT LEA.
* WINDS...NORTHWEST 20 TO 25 MPH WITH GUSTS UP TO 35 MPH.
* TIMING...WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON THROUGH EARLY WEDNESDAY EVENING.
* RELATIVE HUMIDITY...AS LOW AS 20 PERCENT.
* IMPACTS...FIRES COULD BECOME FAST MOVING IN A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME DUE TO THE GUSTY WINDS AND LOW HUMIDITY.
A FIRE WEATHER WATCH MEANS THAT CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE FORECAST TO OCCUR. LISTEN FOR LATER FORECASTS AND POSSIBLE RED FLAG WARNINGS.
Growing Fire Danger:
The overall picture in Minnesota is one of growing drought & higher fire danger.
Check out Tuesday's updated fire danger maps from the MN DNR.
You can see "high" or "very high" fire danger blankets Minnesota from the metro north now. What does it mean?
Fires start easily and spread at a fast rate. All fine dead fuels ignite readily and fires start easily from most causes. Unattended campfires are likely to escape. Fires spread rapidly and short-distance spotting is common. High-intensity burning may develop on slopes, or in concentrations of fine fuel. Fire may become serious and difficult to control unless they are hit hard and fast while small.
Fires start very easily and spread at a very fast rate. Fires start easily from all causes, spread rapidly and intensify quickly. Spot fires are a constant danger. Fires burning in heavy fuels may quickly develop high-intensity characteristics, such as long-distance spotting and fire whirlwinds. Direct attack at the head of such fires is rarely possible after they have been burning more than a few minutes.
As you might expect...burning restrictions are in effect.
The western USA is still battling numerous blazes. You can see the latest info here from Inciweb.
East Coast Severe Outbreak:
The same cold front that brought Minnesota our September chill has pounded the East Coast with storms.
Tornado watches laid out from Upstate NY all the way south to North Carolina late Tuesday.
Closer to home...we'll enjoy a milder day Wednesday with a slight shower chance.