Fire weather risk, record highs and 70 degrees

From blizzard warnings to fire weather in just over a week? Welcome to Minnesota in March.

A gusty south wind pipes up over Minnesota today. The good news? The warmest day so far this year with highs pushing 70 degrees in the metro and even higher in southwest Minnesota. The not-so-good news? Moisture sucking desert dry winds are creating a high fire weather risk. Wind gusts over 30 mph will fan flames from any fires that get started today in southwest Minnesota. Today is not the day to torch up that brush pile on the back forty.

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Red flag warnings are common in the western states for a combination of low humidity, high winds and warm temperatures, and dry fuels. Get used to them. With expanding drought you'll be seeing more of these this spring.

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Twin Cities NWS

URGENT - FIRE WEATHER MESSAGE

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE TWIN CITIES/CHANHASSEN MN

648 AM CDT THU MAR 12 2015

...RED FLAG WARNING FOR PORTIONS OF SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA THIS AFTERNOON...

STRONG SOUTHERLY WINDS COMBINED WITH DRY AND WARM CONDITIONS WILL LEAD TO CRITICAL FIRE WEATHER CONDITIONS ACROSS SOUTHWEST MINNESOTA THIS AFTERNOON. MINIMUM HUMIDITY OF 25 TO 30 PERCENT IS EXPECTED ACROSS THE WARNED AREA. IN ADDITION...SOUTHERLY WINDS WILL ROUTINELY GUST TO 25 TO 35 MPH DURING THE AFTERNOON. THE POTENTIAL IS THERE FOR DRY...FINE FUEL FIRES TO SPREAD QUICKLY THIS AFTERNOON.

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NOAA

The Sioux Falls NWS chimes in on the extreme fire danger.

INCLUDING THE CITIES OF...TYLER...HENDRICKS...LAKE BENTON...IVANHOE...MARSHALL...SLAYTON...FULDA...WINDOM...MOUNTAIN LAKE... WORTHINGTON...JACKSON...LAKEFIELD...PIPESTONE...LUVERNE...BROOKINGS...MADISON...FLANDREAU...SALEM...CANISTOTA...BRIDGEWATER...MONTROSE...SIOUX FALLS

349 AM CDT THU MAR 12 2015

...EXTREME FIRE DANGER...

THE GRASSLAND FIRE DANGER INDEX WILL REACH THE EXTREME CATEGORY THIS AFTERNOON. EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS OR A VERY LOW MOISTURE CONTENT OF GRASSES...AND OTHER DRY ORGANIC MATERIAL ON THE GROUND...INDICATE THAT CRITICAL BURNING CONDITIONS EXIST. A FIRE WILL START EASILY AND HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BECOME LARGE AND SPREAD QUICKLY BECOMING ERRATIC WITH EXTREME BEHAVIORAL CHARACTERISTICS. NO OUTDOOR BURNING SHOULD TAKE PLACE.

Here's the warm front responsible for today's temperature surge.

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NOAA

We make a good run at 70 today in the metro, the leading edge of a bubble of warmth 30 degrees above average for March 12th. It is still March...right?

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NOAA

We cool a few degrees Friday, the next warm shove hots Sunday as temps make another run toward 70 degrees. You'll feel next week's cold front, but temps will still run several degrees above average...and no big snows in sight.

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Weatherspark

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