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Strong Winds Fuel Fire Threat in Northeast Today

UPDATED 10:30 AM EDT, April 8, 2012

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, John Bateman

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Residents of the Mid-Atlantic might want to hurry to put away any Easter decorations following the holiday today. Otherwise, that inflatable bunny could take flight as powerful winds target the midsection of the Eastern Seaboard this week. In addition, the wind will create major fire concerns.

Low pressure spinning off the New England coast will slide northwestward today, taking a position across northern New England. At the same time, a cold front and its associated area of low pressure will scoot across Great Lakes and Northeast, with high pressure sliding into the Tennessee Valley in its wake.

The close proximity of these three weather systems will squeeze the pressure gradient tightly across the Mid-Atlantic, causing the wind to pick up to gusty levels starting this evening, lasting through Monday. While the low will undergo a slow weakening trend starting late Monday, a few more strong gusts will last into Wednesday before the low finally starts to exit off to the East.

From Philadelphia to Washington, the wind will gust as high as 30 mph this evening, increasing on Monday to 35 to 45 mph as the low strengthens in New England. This will be strong enough to bring down tree branches onto power lines, and plenty powerful enough to send outdoor decorations airborne. Winds will gust in the 25 to 30 mph range on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In addition to the damage that could be perpetrated by the gusty winds, a significant risk of wildfires exists this weekend and early into the new week. The dry winter, recent mild weather and lack of rainfall across the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic has left the ground abnormally dry. Coupled with the strong winds forecast this week, there is concern that a single spark could ignite wildfires that could spread out of control and become extremely dangerous in the populated Interstate 95 corridor.

Red Flag Warnings stretch from northern Virginia to upstate New York, including metro Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and the western suburbs of New York City. In addition, Fire Weather Watches have been issued for the same area on Monday.

If you have a campfire planned as part of your family`s Easter activities, be sure it is completely extinguished before leaving the site. Also take care to not leave cigarette butts or other flammable objects burning, as these can lead to quickly-developing fires.

Be sure to keep WeatherBug active to get the latest severe weather watches and warnings for your neighborhood and get the latest updates anywhere on Twitter.

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