Drivers may run into areas of smoke and low visibility in the Plains this weekend as the risk of more wildfires remains elevated.
From Montana and the Dakotas southward to Oklahoma, conditions will remain very warm for early April — highs in the 70s and 80s — and extremely dry. Many of these areas are under varying levels of drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.
Relative humidity will be very low, less than 20%, and wind gusts will reach 30 to 40 mph in many locations. Any new fires that start could spread quickly, and winds may blow smoke across major highways.
A 43-mile stretch of Interstate 94 in North Dakota was shut down for a few hours Thursday because of thick smoke from a grass fire. Road closures could happen in any given location across the Plains over the next two to three days.
The National Weather Service has red flag warnings posted for portions of the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, but fires could also break out in Montana, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Other notable weekend weather
High heat in the Desert Southwest could border on record levels Friday through Sunday. Temperatures will rise into the 90s to 100 degrees from southeastern California to portions of Arizona and Nevada. This includes places such as Las Vegas; El Centro, Imperial and Death Valley, California; as well as Yuma and Phoenix, Arizona. These will be the first 90-degree days this year for some of these areas and will be about 10 to 15 degrees above normal.
On the other extreme, freezing cold weather was fairly widespread across the South Friday morning. This could happen again late Friday night into early Saturday, with temperatures in the 20s to lower 30s. Drivers should make sure they have enough fuel additive in their diesel and dress warmly. Frost and freeze conditions could kill some crops in the region. This includes the busy Atlanta Freight market which, according to FreightWaves SONAR, has the highest amount of outbound loads being offered by shippers to carriers (Outbound Tender Volume Index — OTVI) . This is compared to 134 other markets in the country.
Click here for more FreightWaves articles by Nick Austin.
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