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Strong winds expected Sunday

A windy weekend is ahead, with fire danger chances on rise.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: April 8, 2011 at 8:46 pm •  Published: April 8, 2011

Extreme wildfire potential is a possibility this weekend, especially Sunday, according to the National Weather Service's Norman forecast office.

Forecasters expect a combination of weather features coming together by Sunday afternoon that will lead to hot, dry and windy conditions across a fairly large area of Oklahoma.

Some areas of the state could see winds gusting to 55 mph Sunday, with temperatures in the 80s and a relative humidity below 20 percent.

The weather service is anticipating that the dry line will move east of Interstate 35 by early afternoon with humidity levels falling into the 10 to 15 percent range behind the dry line. Also, west and southwest winds are expected to increase to 30 to 40 mph with higher gusts.

The weather service said the most likely time frame for wildfires will be from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Plus, there's dry vegetation with a majority of the state in the severe to extreme drought categories, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Sunday's fire threat could continue well into the evening.

Firefighters in Oklahoma City are bracing for the possibility of wildfires Sunday with a task force in place that will be ready to respond to all grass fires, fire Battalion Chief Brian Stanaland said. Quick response times can keep grass fires from spreading, he said.

Fire danger will last for several days, said John Pike, a meteorologist in Norman.

“There's a slight chance of thunderstorms,” Pike said. “We'll have high to extreme fire danger through the weekend, especially on Sunday.”

Numerous counties across the state are under burn bans.

In Oklahoma City, no outdoor cooking with charcoal is allowed, only gas.

Since April 1, grass fires have been frequent each day, Stanaland said. Going into Friday, firefighters had responded to 60 grass fires in Oklahoma City since April 1, he said.

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