Increased brush fire risk with sunny, dry, and breezy weather

finger lakes weather forecast friday april 29 2022 sunny dry breezy brush fires
Dry weather will continue through the weekend with an elevated risk for brush fires. [Photo by Gwen Moshier]

High Pressure

The weather pattern across the northeastern United States is stagnant with high pressure over the Great Lakes and a low just east of Maine.

For us in the Finger Lakes, the high pressure system is firmly in control of our weather, but the close proximity of the low will keep the winds blustery, especially in the eastern half of the region.

The best chance for 30 mph wind gusts will be from Elmira to Ithaca to Syracuse and points eastward. To the west, top gusts will be closer to 25 mph. These winds will again be from the northwest.

The air associated with this high pressure system is very dry with dewpoints in the 10s and 20s. As temperatures warm to near 50 this afternoon, relative humidity values will drop into the 25-35 percent range.

This dry air, especially on the back of similarly dry air yesterday, will quickly dry out lingering dead vegetation from last year. This dry, dead vegetation is the perfect fuel for brush fires, with the blustery winds acting to quickly fan any flames that flare-up.

Spring is brush fire season in the Finger Lakes and the annual NYS burn ban continues into May for situations just like this. Recent precipitation has less of an impact on the brush fire risk than it may seem, and the consecutive days of low relative humidity values far outweigh the rain and snow showers earlier this week.

Tomorrow and even Sunday will have similar conditions. Though wind speeds will drop, temperatures will continue to increase, causing relative humidity values to fall below 35 percent during the daytime heating hours.

High temperatures on Saturday will only be a couple degrees warmer than today with low and mid 50s. Top wind gusts, from the north and northwest, will be 20-25 mph. Winds will be from the south and southeast on Sunday with gusts generally under 20 mph. Highs will rise into the mid and upper 60s.

Skies will remain clear until thin clouds build in from the southwest Sunday afternoon.

finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday april 29 2022
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected. Click to enlarge.

Rain Chances Next Week

The next chance for precipitation will come as some showers and maybe a rumble of thunder drift through the area Sunday night. If any thunderstorms do manage to move through, isolated rainfall amounts of a half-inch will be possible. Other areas may miss out on most or all the nighttime rain, though.

Some additional scattered rain showers, and again maybe a thunderstorm, will develop on Monday. The best chance for rain will come in the afternoon, but some late morning showers are not out of the question.

Eastern areas have the best chance for rain on Monday, but there is ample wiggle room in the models this far out that most of the Finger Lakes could end up with some additional rain Monday.

The wind on Monday will be southerly but light and could swing around to the north later in the day. High temperatures should reach the upper 60s, but if the rain showers end up more plentiful, low and mid 60s could become more likely.

Tuesday looks dry and mild with thin overcast and highs reaching into the low 70s. With limited sunshine, it will be increasing south winds that will drive the temperatures upward.

There looks to be another chance for rain showers on Wednesday. A thunderstorm cannot be ruled out, but it is too early to tell for sure. Highs will depend on the clouds and precipitation but should easily be in the 60s.

Later next week and beyond continue to have uncertain temperatures, but highs in the 50s and 60s are the most likely. Warmer weather then looks more probable later in the week after as we head into mid-May.

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finger lakes weather 7-day forecast friday april 29 2022
This graphic represents an average over the entire Finger Lakes region. Localized variations should be expected.

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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.