Finger on the Weather

Wichita weather for Thursday: Extreme fire danger on a hot, windy day

Courtesy of National Weather Service

Records will fall and wind speeds will rise Thursday in Wichita – and across much of Kansas, for that matter.

Temperatures are expected to soar into the 80s across much of the Sunflower State, boosted by southwest winds that will blow steadily in the 20s and 30s and could top 50 miles an hour in gusts, forecasters say.

A red flag warning, meaning extreme grassland fire danger, is in effect most of the daylight hours for most of Kansas, according to the National Weather Service.

The 26 counties of southeast Kansas in the Wichita branch’s coverage area are in a red flag warning from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. A total of 27 counties in central, western and southwestern portions of Kansas are in a red flag warning from noon to 8 p.m. Most of northern and northwest Kansas is in a red flag warning today as well.

Temperatures could climb into the mid-80s in western Kansas and reach 80 in the Wichita metropolitan area, forecasters say. The record high for Feb. 18 in Wichita is 74, set in 1930.

“Any fires that start will have extreme fire behavior and spread rapidly,” the weather service said in a warning statement. “Outdoor burning should not be done.”

South winds will remain robust this evening, blowing steadily in the 20s and gusting to nearly 40 miles an hour before finally backing off after midnight. Lows will settle in the low 50s.

Friday should see sunshine and highs in the low 70s, with winds shifting to the north and gusting to the upper teens at times.

The weekend should offer more sunshine and less wind, with highs in the low 70s on Saturday and the low 60s on Sunday.

For more information on current conditions, go to our weather page.

Stan Finger: 316-268-6437, @StanFinger