Strong winds kick up brush fire risk

finger lakes weather forecast wednesday april 3 2019 wind gusts brush fire red flag warning
Strong winds gusting between 45-55 mph will buffet the Finger Lakes today. With a dry atmosphere, the brush fire risk is rising. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

A Rather Blustery Day

The Finger Lakes will be situated between three weather systems today, resulting in strong winds.

The first system is a strong low off the coast of New England. Second is a slightly weaker, but still potent low well north in Canada. Lastly, a sprawling area of high pressure dominates the Southeastern US.

Southwest winds this morning will turn to the west this afternoon as a cold front from the Canadian low moves through.

Wind gusts over 40 mph will be commonplace through the second half of this morning and the afternoon. A few places, namely over higher elevations and along the I-90 Corridor, could gust over 50 mph.

Temperatures will rise into the upper 40s and low 50s ahead of the front. Behind the front, temperatures will retreat into the 40s.

The front will have very little to no precipitation with it. Any showers that do form will likely be near the shore of Lake Ontario. Otherwise, the atmosphere will be too dry for precipitation or even full cloud cover.

In fact, the air will be dry enough to raise brush fire concerns when combined with the strong winds.

Brush fire conditions are highest across the Southern Tier where Red Flag Warnings are in effect. A Red Flag Warning can be thought of as a fire warning, despite its not obvious naming convention.

The combination of dry air, strong winds, and dead, dry vegetation will allow brush fires to start and spread easily. Even a stray spark or discarded cigarette could be enough to ignite a fire. Please be aware of this fact and use due caution. The annual New York State Burn Ban remains in effect into the middle of May.

Skies will be clear overnight with wind speeds dropping during the evening. By Thursday morning, winds will be nearly calm and skies will be sunny. Morning lows will be right on average in the upper 20s.

Up and Down Temperatures

Thursday will be a quiet day with sunshine and some thin cloud cover. Precipitation is not expected.

Winds over Central New York could gust to 30 mph from the northwest, but most of the Finger Lakes will see gusts of 20-25 mph.

High temperatures will be just shy of normal with mid 40s for most. Low 40s are expected along the shore of Lake Ontario and for Central New York, thanks to the northwest winds moving over the cold Lake Ontario waters.

Our next weather maker moves in Friday morning as a warm front. Precipitation may be in the area for much of the day. Some of this could start as snow, mostly over the eastern Southern Tier and Central New York.

With the clouds and precipitation, temperatures will only reach the upper 30s and low 40s. By the evening, south winds will take over as the front moves through.

Temperatures will hold steady much of the night or rise into the low 40s by Saturday morning. Afternoon highs Saturday should then reach the mid 50s. Morning clouds will give way to afternoon sun and winds will be light.

Sunday will have a mix of sun and clouds and an increasing south wind. Temperatures will shoot into the 60s.

Monday will be even warmer with some areas making a run at the 70s. An approaching cold front could even trigger a few gusty afternoon and evening thunderstorms.

Tuesday will be around 60 degrees with a couple stray showers as a second cold front moves through. That front should send temperatures below normal for the remainder of next week.

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Follow Meteorologist Drew Montreuil:
Meteorologist Drew Montreuil has been forecasting the weather in the Finger Lakes region since 2006 and has degrees in meteorology from SUNY Oswego (B.S. with Honors) and Cornell (M.S.). Drew and his wife have four young boys. When not working or playing with the boys, he is probably out for a run through the countryside.