The remarkably warm start to October reached record territory Wednesday when the temperature hit 88 degrees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, making it the warmest Oct. 5 on record in the Twin Cities.
Even more extreme: Hallock, near the Canadian border in northwestern Minnesota, posted 90 degrees at 5 p.m. At the same time, citizens in Duluth were zipping up jackets in 59-degree air.
The warmth across much of the state is expected to persist into next week, with highs in the 80s Thursday and Friday, backing off slightly into the 70s through the weekend; temperatures are expected to rise to that level in Duluth. The Twin Cities could end up with a six-day run of highs of 80 or above, which would be the first such October streak since 1953.
However, the warm weather is combined with a troubling shortage of rain. The Pagami Creek fire in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCA), while largely controlled, could see some flare-ups and expansion Thursday, U.S. Forest Service public information officer Daria Day said. Day said any growth would be about 20 to 100 acres, which she described as not significant.
“We don’t expect to see the sort of run it made Sept. 12 at all,” she said, alluding to a wind-driven expansion from 7 to more than 30 square miles. The fire, started by a lightning strike Aug. 18, had charred about 145 square miles as of Wednesday.
Most of Minnesota — with the ironic exception of the Arrowhead, which includes the BWCA — was under a National Weather Service warning for dangerous fire conditions Wednesday. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and local fire officials were not issuing permits for open burning in most of Minnesota; even campfires were being banned in Dodge and Mower counties in south-central Minnesota. Campfires are still allowed in the BWCA.
The Weather Service is keeping the warning in effect until the winds are expected to dial back starting Thursday night.
The Twin Cities and several other locations across the southern half of the state had their driest Septembers on record.
NWS forecaster Shawn DeVinny said that “the next couple of days are going to be dry,” with the next “real shot at rain” being “over the weekend, and it doesn’t look like a ton. There’s not too much going on for precipitation.”
Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646