Thursday, March 9, 2017

Wind-Driven Wildfires, Other Windstorms Cause Surprising Destruction Colorado to New York.

A wildfire in Kansas this week. Photo by Clem Gerard
I'm impressed by the amount of damage a bout of strong winds that crossed the nation from Colorado to the East Coast in the past couple of days.

The worst of it was in the Plains, where, sadly, at least six people died in wind-driven wildfires this week. 

In Kansas, at least 650,000 acres burned, 70 structures were destroyed and there was one reported death in the state, said the Kansas City Star. 

Winds have calmed down in the Plains today, but it is still gusty and dry enough in northeastern Colorado and adjacent portions of Kansas and Nebraska for dangerous wildfirest to start and spread. 

The high winds that caused Tuesday's fires in the Plains moved to the eastern United States Wednesday.

Damage from high winds in western New York
Wednesday. Photo from WROC. 
In western New York Wednesday, winds gusted as high as 82 mph in Rochester, and over 70 mph in several other spots.  There were many reports of wind damage across western New York. 

The wind was strong enough to blow 15 to 20 freight cars off train tracks near Batavia, New York, and knocked over several tractor trailer trucks on highways in New York, Michigan and Ohio.

In Michigan, two people died in a Mini Cooper when a large tree blew down on top of it as the driver made his way down a highway, MLive reported. Nearly 850,000 homes and businesses in Michigan were without power this morning.

Winds gusted to 68 mph in Detroit and Saginaw Wednesday.

It's still windy in the eastern United States today, but it's not as bad as Wednesday. However, gusty winds and dry weather has created an elevated brush fire risk in the Middle Atlantic states.

A high wind warning remains in effect in parts of Massachusetts today as winds could go as high as 60 mph. Winds gusted to 66 mph at Blue Hill Observatory in eastern Massachusetts this morning.

A squall that brought wind gusts to 50 mph and a sharp drop
in temperature approaches St. Albans, Vermont Wednesday.
The windy weather heralded the start of a long and unwelcome cold snap that will last well into next week from North Plains to the Northeastern United States.

Early-blooming crops and plants are at risk in some locations.

Additionally, at least three quick-moving snowstorms will affect parts of the Ohio Valley and East Coast tomorrow through Tuesday.

Some of the snow could fall as far south as North Carolina, which is already in the midst of spring from a toasty late winter.

There's already a winter storm warning for Cape Cod and the islands Friday as the first of the storms clips southern New England.

Up here in Vermont, the worst of the three snowstorms are expected to largely miss us, at least according to current forecasts.

Of course, it doesn't take much to cause havoc. Crashes and slide-offs amid snow squalls this morning shut down all southbound lanes of Interstate 89 between Williston and Richmond, Vermont for a time this morning.

A gusty snow squall at my house in St. Albans, Vermont
this morning.Winter's back.
However, it is going to be brutally cold, with some snow showers from time to time.

Nightime lows this weekend will drop to levels a few degrees either side of zero, with high temperatures only getting into the teens --- if we're lucky.

Temperatures are not expected to rise above freezing in northern New England for at least a week.

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