Sunshine and warm winds may be welcome signs of spring, but they bring with them the possibility of fire throughout much of the state.
The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for Minnesota today, while a Fire Weather Watch is in effect for the southwestern part of the state, according to the NWS site.
Central Minnesota is also under a fire watch.
So, what exactly is a "Red Flag Warning"?
A Red Flag is issued when "extreme burning conditions" are imminent due to a number of environmental factors, the NWS says. These include "dry spells" lasting for a week or more, sustained winds of 15 mph or greater, and low humidity.
Unfortunately, this closely describes conditions in drought-stricken southeastern and southwestern Minnesota, both of which are described as "abnormally dry" by the DNR.
We can thank our mild winter for these conditions – with little snowfall, grass throughout much of Minnesota has been left dryer than usual and more likely to burn.
The Red Flag Warning for the southeastern part of the state is in effect from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight. The good news is, the fire weather watch for the area will be lifted Thursday due to expected thunderstorms.
However, the NWS says the watch will continue Thursday "from southwest to northeast Minnesota," with winds gusting up to 35 mph and a significant drop in humidity.