Expect strong winds across the area through Saturday
WILLMAR -- Strong winds are expected to continue through Saturday.
The National Weather Service has expanded the warning for red flag conditions -- strong winds, warm temperatures, low humidity and fire potential -- to include most of the state of Minnesota and it has been extended until 7 p.m. today.
While winds were expected to subside somewhat overnight, the National Weather Service warns that strong winds will develop again by noon today and continue into early evening, with humidity falling to near 25 percent.
It's possible the red flag warning will be extended again into Friday.
The Weather Service has already issued a wind advisory for west central Minnesota and parts of south central Minnesota beginning at noon today and going through Friday afternoon. A wind advisory means winds of 35 mph are expected.
The advisory is in effect for locations along and west of a line from Fairmont to Willmar to Long Prairie.
A persistent and strengthening area of low pressure over eastern Montana will result in a continued strengthening of southerly winds for today and Friday, the Weather Service says. Winds this afternoon will be sustained between 25 and 35 mph with gusts around 40 mph. The winds will die down some tonight but will pick back up by Friday afternoon into the 30 to 40 mph range with gusts of 50 mph.
A cold front will pass across the area during the day Saturday which could bring a few showers, the Weather Service says, and south winds will remain gusty ahead of the front with winds becoming west as the front passes.
Strong winds will continue into Saturday, but there will be a slow rise in humidity.
The red flag warning area includes almost all of Minnesota, except the southeast and northeast corners of the state, along with most of South Dakota, eastern Nebraska, western Iowa, western North Dakota and north central Kansas.
The wind and dry grasses, brush and crops could cause any fires to spread quickly under these conditions. Burning bans remain in place for Renville and Yellow Medicine counties.