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Strong Winds Fueling Fires Over the Plains and Southwest

31 Mar 2021, 6:00 am

After intense winds brought extreme fire conditions to the Great Plains on Monday, dry and gusty conditions are expected to continue at times through Thursday. Offshore winds will increase the fire danger in the Southwest while also creating the potential for record breaking temperatures. Ongoing wildfires in the Plains may be difficult to contain.

A trough moving through the Central and Eastern United States will spur gusty conditions across the Plain and Midwest on Wednesday. Low relatively humidity will accompany these gusts with abundant dry fuels, like dead grass. On Thursday (image below) a new trough moving through the Rockies will help to continue gusty conditions near the border with Canada. At the same time, surface high pressure building in the Mississippi Valley will create a pressure gradient over the Southern Plains to create gusty conditions by the afternoon.


On Monday, a fire erupted just west of Rapid City that continues to threaten the city. Evacuations remain in place for certain neighborhoods.

In Keystone, SD another fire sparked which has prompted evacuations  and closures around Mount Rushmore. Firefighters say good progress has been made to contain the blaze which has been determined to be human caused, though the exact cause is still under investigation.

This home below was destroyed by the fire. Only the chimney remains.

Thursday Fire Danger

Red flag warnings are in effect for the afternoon hours on Thursday. Red flag warnings are issued when several hours of high fire danger are expected, which usually occurs during the warmest and driest period of the day through the afternoon hours.

Always check with local officials before doing any outdoor burning if you’re in a fire prone location. Stay with WeatherNation on air and online for updates.


About the author

Rob grew up in South Florida, where daily afternoon storms and hurricanes piqued his interest in meteorology early on. That interest was fostered by his teachers and his father, who one time brought him onto the roof of their home to watch a funnel cloud move through the Everglades several miles away. ... Load MoreYears of filmmaking and tv production in high school gradually pushed him toward broadcast meteorology at Florida State University, where he joined and eventually led the student run daily weather show. After graduating with a Bachelors of Science in Meteorology, he began his career at KESQ in Palm Springs, California before heading to KFSN in Fresno and WLOS in Asheville, North Carolina. He has covered a diverse array of extreme weather events, including haboobs and flash flooding in the desert, extreme snow in the Sierra, hurricanes, and Appalachian ice storms. He also enjoys telling stories and reporting about weather issues. Connect with Rob on Twitter