An unseasonably warm Easter weekend is in store for Minnesotans, with high winds that fanned wildfires through the week ebbing, the National Weather Service said Friday.
This week's dry conditions and gusty winds spawned grass fires in several parts of the state and led to red-flag warnings of extreme wildfire danger that expired late Friday.
Even as the warnings expired, fires flared, including in the metro area. Late Friday, there were reports of a large brush fire in the Anoka area. And in Richfield, firefighters fought back a brush fire in Veterans Park, near Hwy. 62, finally containing it to a swampy area. Smoke billowed into nearby neighborhoods and police blocked off at least one road leading to the area.
It was not clear how those blazes started. Statewide, residents have been cautioned against burning brush or starting large bonfires.
Even with winds ebbing overnight, dry conditions will continue for at least a few days, so the danger of wildfires remains. "If someone were to drop a cigarette, conditions for that fire spreading are very high," said NWS meteorologist Paige Marten.
The past week's gusty weather was blamed for several large fires in Minnesota and the Dakotas. In one case, wind helped spread a fire sparked by a cigarette over 118 acres in Lino Lakes.
The powerful gusts came from high pressure over Illinois and the Dakotas, according to Marten. On Friday afternoon, gusts reached up to 30 miles per hour in the Twin Cities.
But by late Friday, winds had died down to 5 to 15 mph.
This weekend will bring clear skies and a warm breeze across the state. Saturday's metro-area high could reach 71, with a north wind around 5 mph. Saturday night's low is forecast to be 46.
Easter Sunday will be unseasonably warm, with a high near 76.
By Sunday night, showers may move in, with an even stronger chance of heavier rain by midweek — rainfall that would be very welcome to farmers and much of a state that remains unusually dry.
Staff writer Ben Goessling contributed to this report. Alex Chhith • 612-673-4759