Tuesday, April 14, 2015

FIre And Rain Across The Nation Today

A wildfire Monday in Wind Cave National Park
in South Dakota. Photo by Curt Nettinga/
Hot Springs South Dakota Star.  
When James Taylor sang "I've seen fire and I've seen rain," he was certainly not giving a weather report, but the phrase could describe the bipolar nature of conditions across the nation early this week, especially today.

The Northern Plains are dry, warm and windy today, as it has been there most of this spring. Once again, the result is a very high fire danger, especially in places like the Dakotas and Nebraska.

Meanwhile, the south central and southeastern United States are getting the opposite extreme, with heavy rain and flooding. Which is what many of these areas have also been experiencing most of this spring.

It's a matter of stuck weather patterns again. During the winter, the infamous stuck weather that slammed New England with epic snows and colds is gone.

But that weather pattern set the stage for current conditions. The winter pattern created dry conditions in the northern Plains by shunting storms to the south.

That save pattern sent storm after storm through the Tennessee and Ohio valleys, which saturated that neck of the woods.

That awful winter pattern is gone. Want proof? It was 75 degrees in Burlington, Vermont yesterday, or about 20 degrees warmer than normal. Yay!!

However, in a new way, the weather pattern is kind of stuck again, but not as intractably as it was in the winter.

The current pattern, though much warmer than the one in the winter, is continuing to keep the northern Plains dry. In fact, the U.S. Drought Monitor's latest report has drought expanding and intensifying across Minnesota, the Dakotas and Nebraska, and continuing even more intensely in Oklahoma and parts of Texas.

Dangerous fires have already broken out in the Plains, and there's a big risk of those today.

Near Bismarck, North Dakota, a Monday wildfire forced the evacuation of 20 homes and closed a small college campus, though things are now back under control there.

In South Dakota, a so-called controlled burn in the Wind Cave National Park got out of control and became a nasty wildfire on Monday.

As I noted, the opposite problem is happening more to the south. Kentucky and West Virginia, which have had so many floods and flood alerts this March and April, were under the gun this Tuesday morning once again.

Heavy rain and flooding were reported in both states as heavy rains continued.

The heavy rains will mostly focus further south for the rest of the week. Totals over the next week could range from three to seven inches, with locally more in a wide area from Louisiana to the Carolinas.

Flooding will be a concern in those areas the rest of the week.

Elsewhere, there's good news and bad news. The northern Plains might get a little rain later this week, which will help, but not solve all of their problems with the dry conditions.

And most of California, in the midst of what some are saying is the worst drought in 1,000 years, is not expected to get any rain in the next week and beyond.

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