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You're right, it's windy, even for North Dakota

Two scenarios work to maintain gusty days, according to the National Weather Service in Grand Forks.

Winds whip up dirt in a newly planted field west of Grand Forks. (Ann Bailey/Grand Forks Herald)

Gusty winds Tuesday, June 16, kicked up dirt in newly planted fields, blew over unanchored trash cans and sent tree branches flying.

Tuesday was the second day in the past three that the National Weather Service in Grand Forks issued a wind advisory for eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota counties. A similar advisory was issued Sunday, when gusty winds resulted in blowing dirt and reduced visibility on roads along bare soil fields in some parts of northeast North Dakota.

Fourteen Minnesota and 19 North Dakota counties were in Tuesday’s wind advisory, which was in effect from noon until 10 p.m. Winds were forecast to be from 20 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 55 mph.

The advisory cautioned that gusty winds could blow around unsecured objects and travel could be difficult for high-profile vehicles. Meanwhile, the combination of high wind gusts and low humidity also prompted the weather service to issue a hazardous weather outlook that warned that fire danger was high Tuesday in several northeast North Dakota and northwest Minnesota counties.

Though North Dakota is known for being a state where the wind blows more days than not, the intensity of the winds this past week is atypical.


It’s more common for winds to be strong during April and May, than in June, according to Bill Barrett, a National Weather Service-Grand Forks meteorological technician.

“You have our breezy days, but not what we’re experiencing or just had,” he said on Tuesday. “It’s atypical to have as many days with wind speeds like this.”

At mid-afternoon Tuesday, the weather service had recorded wind gusts of 44 mph in Fargo and 38 mph in Grand Forks.

“That’s pretty robust when we get around 40-mph gusts,” Barrett said.

The high winds Sunday and Tuesday were created by two types of meteorological conditions.

On Sunday, the winds were the result of high-pressure and low-pressure systems being located near one another, Barrett said. The proximity of the two systems is why the winds remained strong well into the night, instead of tapering off after sunset.

When winds die down after sunset, it’s because they were created by different conditions: daytime heating and nighttime cooling, which causes rising and falling currents as the sun sets. The heat that created the winds aloft lessens, so the wind speed drops.

“‘The heating source is gone, so the wind speed is going to go down," Barrett said.


On Tuesday, the wind speeds were the result of the latter type of system so, unlike Sunday, the wind speeds were expected to decline overnight.

Though the conditions that created the winds differed on Sunday and Tuesday, the result was similar: a rush of outdoor air that felt like a blow dryer on high blasting bare skin, swirling dirt and tipping over patio plants and lawn chairs.

Wednesday is forecast to be another hot day, but not as windy, Barrett said. There is a chance of showers and thunderstorms Wednesday night.

The rest of the week will have more seasonal temperatures in the 70s, according to the National Weather Service forecast. Winds are expected to be much calmer, with speeds less than 15 mph and gusts lower than 25 mph.

Ann is a journalism veteran with nearly 40 years of reporting and editing experiences on a variety of topics including agriculture and business. Story ideas or questions can be sent to Ann by email at: abailey@agweek.com or phone at: 218-779-8093.
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