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April Fools' Plains Record-Busting Heat Is No Joke

UPDATED 4 PM CDT, April 1, 2012

UPDATED By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman

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The final vestiges of a summer-like weekend will culminate across the High Plains today. The unusual heat spell will mean more records will fall by the wayside for April Fools`, all joking aside.

The source for all this record-breaking warmth is rather simple, at least weather-wise. A pair of dueling low pressure systems will emerge off the Rocky Front Range and into the western High Plains today. At the same time, high pressure remains firmly anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. The two are teaming up as a heat pump, boosting temperatures nearly 30 degrees above average throughout the Plains.

The thermometer is near the 90 degree mark well into South Dakota, with upper 70s as far north as North Dakota. This heat is pushing the cusp of the record books, with Aberdeen, S.D., likely to see its 84-year old record of 80 degrees smashed today, with Pierre, S.D., following suit, surpassing its old record of 82 degrees set in 1976. Even Bismarck, N.D., will likely set a new record, besting its old record of 75 degrees set back in 1976.

Other notable records that are in jeopardy across the Plains and Mississippi Valley today include Garden City, Kan., Oklahoma City, Sioux City, Iowa, and Kansas City., Mo.

The only drawback to the early-season heat will be the growing fire potential. Southwesterly wind gusts up to 40 mph will team up with the warm temperatures and low relative humidity, creating explosive conditions for wildfires along the western High Plains. Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches remain in place from New Mexico and West Texas to western North Dakota. Be very careful not to leave any items burning unattended outdoors, as a spark could quickly spread and become a wildfire in a matter of minutes.

Record high temperatures were ramped across the Plains, ending March on a very warm note. Lincoln and Omaha, Neb., surpassed their old record highs of 88 degrees set in 1946, hitting 91 degrees on Saturday. Other notable record-busting temperatures occurred in Bismarck, Minot and Dickinson, N.D., to end March. Beyond the daily record-breaking heat, Oklahoma City recorded its warmest March on record with an average temperature of 60.8 degrees, besting the old 102-year record of 60.5 degrees.

Unfortunately, the wild summer-ride will come to an abrupt end as a vigorous cold front blasts across the Plains and into the Mississippi Valley on Monday. However, despite its passage, highs in the 60s and 70s will still be well-above the norm for this time of year.

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