Citing strong winds and persistently dry conditions, the National Weather Service (NWS) on Sunday issued a rare red-flag warning for wildfires for the Twin Cities and a broad swath of the state.

The the fire risk fell as winds calmed and temperatures dropped.

Red-flag warnings are highly unusual this late in the year, and reflect the intensity of the drought still lingering across much of the state. Some 34% of Minnesota is experiencing abnormally dry conditions, and 12% of the state is in severe drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The drought, combined with the end of the growing season, has left vegetation extremely dry and susceptible to fire. The NWS had issued only six red-flag warnings in the month of November since 2006.

Drought-weary residents should get some relief from the persistent dry conditions this week, as lower temperatures and a storm system move through the region. The Weather Service's office in Chanhassen forecasts a 60% chance of precipitation on Tuesday after 5 p.m. and thunderstorms throughout the night.

On Wednesday there are high chances of rain and another possible thunderstorm on Thursday. By Thursday night and into Friday there is a chance of snow.

The system could generate more than an inch of precipitation in the Twin Cities, but only around a quarter-inch in far southern Minnesota. High temperatures are forecast to fall into the 30s by the weekend.

While the heaviest rain will likely fall north and east of the worst drought-hit areas, this is the "best chance of widespread beneficial rains locally since August," the NWS said on its Twitter feed.

"We definitely need any rain we can get," said Caleb Grunzke, a meteorologist with the NWS office in Chanhassen. "It won't bring a ton of relief to the drought. But if we get what's forecast, at least an inch of rainfall, then it will definitely help."

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced last week that it is restricting open burning due to increased wildfire risk from dry conditions.

"Extreme drought conditions in combination with dry fall vegetation, low humidity and wind make for dangerous fire conditions," said Allissa Reynolds, DNR wildfire prevention supervisor, in a news release. "Restricting open burning prevents a burn pile from escaping and becoming a wildfire."

The red-flag fire warning issued Sunday covered 35 counties in central and southern Minnesota that are already experiencing intense drought conditions.