Monday, February 20, 2012

High Winds, High Fire Danger In Western and Central High Plains Today...

Above is the latest fire weather outlook for today from the SPC in Norman, OK. Critical fire conditions are forecast across the red shaded areas from eastern New Mexico into west Texas, where a combination of low humidity and very strong, gusty winds will lead to potentially dangerous wildfire conditions.

A High Wind Warning is in effect for the golden-brown shaded areas on the image below.  West to Northwest winds will average 35-40 mph (sustained) with gusts as high as 60 mph in that area.  

The bright lavender/pink shaded areas adjacent to the High Wind Warning indicate a Red Flag Warning, where West-Northwest winds of 30-35 mph with gusts of 55-60 mph can be expected.  Needless to say, fire conditions will be extremely dangerous in both of these areas, along with a threat of widespread blowing dust.

Wind Advisories are in effect for much of the central High Plains to the East of the above areas (in the darker tan shaded areas on the same image), where Southwest winds will average 25-30 mph with gusts of 40-45 mph.

All of this wind and dust will be kicked up in response to a vigorous middle and upper level storm system moving out into the region from the Rockies today.  A line of thunderstorms is likely to develop along a surface front ahead of this system from central Kansas into central Oklahoma by late afternoon:

Some of these storms may become strong to locally severe, with hail near severe limits the primary threat.  Since it will already be quite windy in these areas, it also wouldn't take much of a "push" from a thunderstorm to produce damaging wind gusts as well.

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