Strong winds in South Dakota through Thursday

Weather forecast, Wind Cave NP October 16-18, 2012

Weather forecast, Wind Cave NP October 16-18, 2012

The weather forecast above is from the National Weather Service and is for Wind Cave National Park in southwest South Dakota. (Click on the image to see a larger version.)

Very strong winds and enhanced fire danger will prevail over South Dakota through Thursday. Thanks to a cold front moving through the area, sustained wind speeds in some area should be in the 20s, 30s, or 40s with gusts in some areas at 40 to 60 mph.

Below is an excerpt from a message distributed today by Darren R. Clabo, South Dakota State Fire Meteorologist.


A strong upper level trough will force a potent cold front to push across the state this evening. A few showers are possible along this frontal boundary and some of the weather models are even showing a wetting rain over western SD and the Black Hills.

Some lightning may accompany these showers so we’ll have to watch for any new ignitions.

Temperatures will quickly drop with this front but the real change will be seen in the winds: southwest winds will switch to the northwest and dramatically increase in speed. Gusts to 40 mph are possible overnight behind the front as it crosses the state.

Post-frontal conditions can then be expected tomorrow. Highs will only reach the mid to upper 50s across the prairies with mid 40s expected over the Black Hills. A very strong pressure gradient will persist throughout the day. This will allow the northwest winds to reach sustained speeds 35-45 mph with gusts exceeding 60 mph. A High Wind Watch is in place for this event. In addition, the post-frontal airmass will be quite dry and minimum RHs will range from 15% over southwestern SD to 25% over northeastern SD.

Critical fire conditions will ensue. Expect Extreme Fire Danger over all of the SD plains with Red Flag Warnings likely over East River. Explosive fire growth is possible any in the state tomorrow with the wind and exceptionally dry fuels. The strong northwest winds will continue throughout Wednesday night.

Thursday will not bring much relief as the northwest winds will like again be in the 30-40 mph range with gusts exceeding 50 mph. There may be some precipitation across northeast SD but the rest of the state will see dry conditions with enhanced fire danger once again. Highs will be in the 50s.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.