Warm temperatures, low relative humidity, windy conditions are leading to a heightened concern for wildfire spread across the Upper Mississippi River Valley.
Weather Conditions Fueling the Wildfire Risk
While temperatures are not as warm as they were early this week, afternoon highs in the mid to upper 60s today across the Upper Mississippi River Valley will be warm enough to aid in wildfire spread.In addition, wind speeds will be breezy averaging between 15 and 25 mph with gusts to around 30 mph.
The final weather factor is the relative humidity levels which will drop into the 20 to 25% range this afternoon.
The National Weather Service offices in collaboration with the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin have issued Red Flag Warnings for today due to the concern of rapid wildfire spread.
Ongoing wildfires and Burning restrictions
The Minnesota Incident Command System (MNICS) which coordinates fire response in Minnesota is reporting that fire suppression operations are continuing for the Lake Hattie Fire.
Another wildfire was reported on Friday near Superior National Forrest just east of Hoyt Lakes, MN. MNICS has more information on that fire.
Finally, MNICS reports that the Lyons wildfire near Staples, MN is contained.
The entire state of Minnesota is under a restriction of no burning permits but campfires are still allowed.
Smoke from the Canadian fires
In addition to the local wildfire risk, smoke from the Canadian fires is funneling into the Northern Plains and Upper Mississippi River Valley. Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued an air pollution health alert for much of Minnesota including the Twin Cities area. For more information see the health alert press release.
Thus any outdoor activities should be limited especially if for those that have respiratory problems including Asama, allergies, etc.
Even though this area is not in drought, dead grass and vegetation from last fall and winter are still prevalent. A single spark or cigarette butt could quickly lead to a rapidly moving and growing wildfire; so smoking outside or throwing a cigarette butt out the window of your vehicle is not wise.
Farmers that are planting should be cautious of activities that may spark fires including metal from your equipment coming in contact with rocks.
Farmers are also encouraged to monitor for any wildfire spread for the health and protection of their livestock.
With gusty winds, the fires will move quickly. If you see a fire, contact your local fire department immediately vs trying to respond to the fire on your own.
For information focused on agriculture and wildfire, Texas extension office has some information available at http://texashelp.tamu.edu/004-natural/fires.php/
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.