Brandon Weatherz: Potentially severe storms expected today

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Our Wednesday is warm and windy with scattered strong to severe thunderstorms in the afternoon and evening following a cold front. An Air Quality Alert is in effect for northern Minnesota until 10 am as southerly winds temporarily push smoke out of the region. A more widespread bout of wildfire smoke sweeps the Northland behind our cold front tonight and lingers through the day Thursday. Air quality is expected to become unhealthy for sensitive groups in Wisconsin and unhealthy for all in northern Minnesota.

Highs return to low to mid-80s today and dew points climb into mid-60s making it feel muggy. A southwest wind ramps up near 25 mph with gusts near 40 mph. Rain chances will enter northwest Minnesota in the early afternoon near the cold front and march from northwest to southeast across northern Minnesota through the afternoon to reach the Twin Ports around 4 pm. Storms continue to fill out northwest Wisconsin in the evening and gradually exit to the east overnight. Scattered severe storms are possible with the main hazards being 1.5” hail and winds up to 70 mph, and a tornado cannot be ruled out.

Behind that front, highs are briefly knocked down to the 70s on Thursday. Breezy northwest winds linger along with haze from smoke. The warming trend kicks back in Friday with highs in upper 70s to low 80s. Heat peaks Saturday with highs in mid-80s to mid-90s. The weather pattern then looks to keep temperatures above average and rain chances slim through the start next week.

Today: Increasing clouds and windy. Potentially severe thunderstorms after 4 pm. High 84. SW wind 15-25 mph. Chance of rain: 70%.

Tonight: Potentially severe storms, then becoming partly cloudy after midnight. Breezy. Low 57. W wind 10-20 mph. Chance of rain: 80%.

Tomorrow: Hazy and breezy. High 74. NW wind 15-20 mph.

Tomorrow night: Clear. Low 51. WNW wind 5-15 mph.

Friday: Mostly sunny. High 81. S wind 5-15 mph.

Saturday: Mostly sunny and hot. High 89. S wind 5-15 mph.

Sunday: Mostly sunny and breezy. High 83. NE wind 10-15 mph.

Monday: Partly cloudy and breezy. High 81. E wind 10-15 mph.

Tuesday: Partly cloudy and breezy. High 82. SSE wind 10-15 mph.