Windy, warm weather create fire danger in Western Wisconsin

Temperatures surged today back well above normal thanks to strong winds that have been generally out of the southwest for most of the day. The system not only pulled up some warm air but wrapped in some dry air that allowed us to see the sun this afternoon. That combination of warm sunshine along with the dry air made it easy for temperatures to sore into the 70s. Check out the Midwest surface plot from earlier this afternoon around 3:45pm. Temperatures are in the red and dew points are in the green. Eau Claire is sitting at 73 degrees and La Crosse is sitting at 78 degrees. Some 80s have even popped up as close as northeast Iowa.

You’ll notice all the wind barbs are quite busy on that surface map. At the end of some of the wind barbs are wind gusts. You can see many are in the 30-40 mph range. Here are some top wind gusts from across the area today.

Eau Claire 44 mph
New Richmond 44 mph
La Crosse 41 mph
Mauston 41 mph
Ladysmith 40 mph
Onalaska 39 mph
Viroqua 39 mph
Black River Falls 38 mph
Rice Lake 37 mph
Camp Douglas 35 mph
Winona 35 mph
Hayward 33 mph
Sparta 33 mph

Easy to see why those wind gusts were so high from the surface map today. Notice those yellow isobar lines. Those are lines of constant pressure and when they are really close like that you get strong winds. That was definitely the case today. Some people even mentioned to me on facebook some small limbs being knocked off some trees by the gusty winds. This is quite a vigorous low pressure system. Very typical of March. This more the normal type of March weather. Cool one day, warm the next, then back to cooler weather.

Another issue from the winds today is actually fire danger. Yes, we’ve gotten some rain lately, but it’s still quite dry across Western Wisconsin. Below is the drought status for the upper Midwest. You can see Western Wisconsin is still abnormally dry and Minnesota is still in a pretty bad drought.

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