The weather conditions are coming together this afternoon for a high risk of wildfires for areas from Montana and Wyoming east in to Western North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and parts of Eastern Colorado.
Vegetation in this area is dying or already dead. So grasses, crops and other fine fuels are very dry and will catch on fire easily by any sparks. In addition, weather conditions are developing this afternoon that will support additional drying and rapid wildfire spread. Temperatures this afternoon will climb into the mid 80’s and lower 90’s.
The atmosphere is dry with relative humidities will dropping into the teens and 20’s as temperatures climb.
In addition winds will become strong and gusty this afternoon. The graphic below shows winds sustained speeds in knots for this afternoon. Ranges of 20 – 32 knots that equates to speeds of 25 to 35 mph. The winds will be from the northwest and west however wildfires can create their own environment to change the wind speeds and direction. Wind gusts will range between 45 to near 60 mph. These strong and gusty winds will help any first that start spread quickly and potentially jump roads and fire lines.
With the high risk for wildfires, the National Weather Service has issued Red flag warnings (shown in the pink shading in the graphic below) for much of the Northern Plain States.
With harvest season still in full swing in parts of these areas, farmers need to be conscious of potential sparks coming from their farming equipment. In October 2012, a similar situation occurred in Iowa and many fires were accidentally started by farmers harvesting. If possible, take a break in the mid to late afternoon hours when the weather conditions are most favorable for wildfire spread.
Ranchers also need to be conscious of any activities that may spark fires as well as monitor for any wildfire spread for the health and protection of their livestock. With these strong wind speed, especially the gusts wildfires will move quickly.
If you see a fire, contact your local fire department immediately vs trying to respond to the fire on your one as these fires will like get out of control very quickly.
The team at WxIntegrations will continue to provide relevant information and resources to help you better understand and prepare by incorporating weather impacts into your planning and response.