BWCA Firecast: Winds shift Friday; Gust to 30mph this weekend

Pagami Creek Fire Headlines:

-Light winds Thursday helped fire crews make some progress

-Fire still in excess of 101,000 acres, smoke plume hindering accurate estimates

-Smoke plume visible again on satellite images Thursday

-Wind shift Friday from the southwest and south

-Higher weekend winds, gusts could reach 30mph

-Warmer temps, lower humidity and gusty winds may cause fire to make another run this weekend

Quiet Thursday:

Thursday was the first day in nearly a week that winds remained below 20 mph in Ely and the fire areas.

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This helped fire crews get some critical work done on the south and west sides of the fire near Isabella and Ely.

Incident Overview

Pagami Creek Fire Update for Thursday, Sept 15, 2011

Contact: Fire Information 218-365-3177 between 8:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.

TODAY’S MESSAGE: Management of the Pagami Creek Fire has transitioned to Doug Turman’s Type 1 Team from the Northern Rockies. The fire is under the Unified Command of Lake County and Cook County Sheriff’s Offices and the Superior National Forest. Cooler temperatures and a small amount of rain moderated fire behavior yesterday. Moderated fire behavior is expected again today. Direct attack began on the southern perimeter of the fire outside the wilderness. On the northwest corner, hose lays were extended and sprinkler systems were installed on portages.

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Friday: Winds turn south & southwest

As the center of a sprawling Canadian high pressure cell slides to the east, winds are turning into the south-southwest near the fire. Winds will be lighter early Friday, but may increase into the 10-20 mph range by afternoon.

Gusty winds return Saturday:

I am concerned about gusty winds this weekend. Indications are winds could gust to 30 mph both days this weekend from the south-southwest.

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This means the fire could make another run to the north & northeast. According to today’s fire perimeter maps, that side of the fire lurks below more prime and popular BWCA lakes the north end of Insula, Alice, Malberg, Polly and Koma.

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This is the heart of the BWCA’s southern end.

Frosty Friday north & east:

As the high pressure center retreats into Wisconsin, the most favorable frost conditions will follow. Frost advisories and freeze warnings are flying again basically everywhere north & east of the Twin Cities.

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With dew points in the upper 20s in the metro, I can’t rule out more frost around the metro Friday morning. A light southwest breeze may keep the lower atmosphere “mixed” enough to prevent frost in the central core again tonight.

Fire weather:

I’ve discussed the fire weather conditions at length this week in previous posts. Dr. Mark Seeley adds some nice insight in this week’s “Weather Talk” blog.

Topic: Fire weather

“The spread of the Pagami Creek Fire in the BWCA this week was certainly assisted by the weather. A dry air mass with dewpoints only in the 20s and 30s F (15-20 degrees less than normal for this time of year) dominated the landscape earlier this week. Then modest southerly winds turned to strong northwesterly winds with gusts from 30 to 40 mph, allowing flames to jump gaps in the forest and ignite other canopies and understory materials. Fortunately light rains over the 13th and 14th abated faster and further spread of the fire, still one of the largest (over 100,000 acres) in Minnesota history.”


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