By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Strong, sustained winds will make their way across the region Wednesday, bringing with them a high risk of power outages and outdoor fire danger.
The National Weather Service offices in Kansas City, Des Moines and Omaha have issued High Wind Warnings across large swaths of Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, lasting through the entire day Wednesday.
Meteorologist Jonathan Kurtz from the Kansas City/Pleasant Hill office says an event like this is somewhat rare.
"Really once every couple of years, we get a really strong low pressure like this that's lifting across the Plains," Kurtz said. "When we pull out the High Wind Warning, that usually means it's going to be pretty significant with sustained winds of 35-40 mph during the day with gusts of up to 60-65 mph."
Temperatures Wednesday are also expected to reach the 70s. Combine that with high winds and dry vegetation, the outdoor fire danger is also elevated. A Red Flag Warning has also been issued for portions of northeast Kansas and northwest Missouri.
"You mix the warm and windy conditions along with dry fuels, grasses and dry vegetation, any fire that gets sparked or that somebody sets could get out of control pretty quick," Kurtz added.
Perhaps the biggest concern is the possibility of widespread power outages, especially if tree limbs fall onto power lines.
Evergy spokesperson Andrew Baker says crews across their service area are ready to deal with the strong winds.
"Evergy's tree trimming and vegetation management along with other maintenance works is really our best defense against high winds in situations like this," Baker explained. "However, if we see those 60-70 mph winds, it's still possible we could experience some wind caused outages."
Baker says the threat for severe weather and periods of high winds during thunderstorms prepares Evergy crews to deal with adverse weather patterns throughout the year.
"Preparations for things like this don't just happen days before or hours before," Baker said. "It's something we monitor year-round to put ourselves in the best position possible for when we do see this kind of weather."
The high winds are expected to subside late Wednesday night. Temperatures will cool off into the 40s and 50s for the rest of the week and into the weekend, but dry and sunny conditions are expected for the foreseeable future.