Fire danger high across northwest MN; rain needed

The lack of late winter snow and spring showers have continued to heighten the drought in parts of the upper Midwest. Bright April sunshine, very low relative humidity and a brisk southerly wind all add up to critical grassland fire danger.

suldirewsThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center paints an area where the threat for fire is most severe today.

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Southerly winds are expected to gust over 35 miles per hour at times this afternoon and could rapidly spread a fire.

The relative humidity is expected to be as low as 15 to 20 percent due to low dew points over the moisture-starved region of the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota.

Data from the Midwest Regional Climate Center  depicts the welcome precipitation that doused parts of southeast Minnesota last week, and the 4 inches of rain that accumulated near Milwaukee.

precip7dySo far this month, Louisville, Ky., has tallied 9.5 inches of rainfall, resulting in flash floods and river flooding.

Meanwhile, the Fargo, N.D.-Moorhead, Minn., region has received only 1.38 inches of liquid precipitation for the entire year.

The dry soil conditions resulted  in an unseasonably warm high temperature of 80 degrees in Fargo on Tuesday afternoon. The normal high for Fargo on April 14 is 55 degrees.

The high temperature in Rochester, Minn., where rain has launched a nice green-up, topped out at 68 degrees on Tuesday.

Rochester has received 3.14 inches of rain halfway through the month of April.

Based on forecast models, meteorologists with NOAA’s Weather Prediction Center once again are expecting more generous rainfall totals to be south of Minnesota through Sunday night.

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We will be probing for our next shot of welcome rain, which may come over the weekend, but the mid-range outlook suggests drier than normal conditions are likely to persist through late April.

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