Fire Danger to Ramp Up on Northern Plains Today

October 05, 2011; 3:22 AM
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Gusty winds, dry ground, and low humidity will lead to critical fire danger levels across parts of the northern Plains today.

A powerful storm system digging into the Western part of the country will cause low pressure to deepen across the northern Rockies. This in turn will increase winds across the central and northern Plains.

Sustained winds at the surface will average 20-30 mph from Kansas and Nebraska through the Dakotas Wednesday. Wind gusts greater than 40 mph are likely as well.

At the same time, an area of dry air will move into the northern Plains, leading to very low afternoon humidity levels as temperatures rise into the 80s in most areas.

The trifecta of prime wildfire conditions is low humidity, gusty winds and dry vegetation, and all three of these are more than present in this region.

The entire region from Kansas through North Dakota has had very little rain for the last month or so. This has led to abnormally dry conditions across the north and extreme drought across central and southern Kansas.

While there are no major wildfires ongoing across this region at the present time, today's winds could be responsible for igniting some blazes. Such fires could start if gusty winds down a power line and sparks fly.

The winds are also capable of causing damage to trees, as well as to the exterior of some homes and businesses.

Tractor-trailers and campers could get overturned or steered off roadways by the winds. Even drivers of smaller trucks and cars will feel the winds tug on their vehicles.

Residents and travelers across Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas will remain subject to wind-related dangers through early Thursday. Higher relative humidities and even a few showers and thunderstorms will move into the region that day.

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