With dry conditions and the hottest weather of the year arriving Tuesday, the National Weather Service in Duluth issued a fire weather watch for the Brainerd lakes region.
Very warm air and gusty winds are expected to significantly elevate the fire danger Tuesday afternoon. A fire weather watch means critical fire weather conditions are in the forecast. Conditions will be ripe for rapid fire growth and uncontrolled fires. The fire weather watch is in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Tuesday night for Cass, Crow Wing, southern Aitkin and Pine counties. Residents are advised to look for updated forecasts and be aware of the possible danger rising to a red flag warning.
There is an uncertainty regarding how dry the air will be Tuesday but the relative humidity may be in the 22-27 percent range. Southerly winds are expected to be 10 to 15 mph before shifting to the southwest and growing to 15 to 20 mph by the afternoon with gusts of 25 mph.
There is a 30 percent chance for rain Monday, mainly before 1 p.m. In the afternoon skies are expected to be partly sunny and winds will increase, perhaps gusting up to 30 mph.
Brainerd’s forecast calls for a high of 84 degrees beneath sunny skies Tuesday with highs in the 70s expected throughout the week before a weekend cool down and chance of a thunderstorm for Sunday.
Grass fires have continued to plague the area. The Brainerd Fire Department was called to a grass fire at 6:22 p.m. Friday by Highway 210 and Inglewood Drive burning about a tenth of an acre and possibly started by sparks from a passing train. At 6:25 p.m. Friday another grass fire was reported by Highway 210 and Golf Course Drive.
And at 10:43 a.m. Sunday firefighters responded to a grass fire along the 13000 block of Thompson Road. The fire burned a little more than an acre.
The DNR has burning restrictions in place for central Minnesota, which includes the counties of Crow Wing, Aitkin, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Todd, Wadena, southern Cass or the portion south of Highway 200, which means the DNR will not issue any burning permits. People may still have a small recreation fire but firefighters are urging caution with the reminder that current conditions mean a fire, especially one left unattended, may quickly become more than the fire starter intended.