You didn't need a weatherman to know which way the wind was blowing this week. A shot of late October-like weather brought brisk conditions to the north woods. Northwest winds gusted over 25 mph Wednesday afternoon while temperatures remained in the 40s. A few bursts of rain mixed with ice pellets were reported in Bemidji. The low temperature in Bemidji reached 24 Thursday morning.
To our north and east, even cooler conditions prevailed. Low temperatures bottomed out at 19 in International Falls and 20 in Hibbing. A trace of snow was reported across the high ground west of Duluth Wednesday evening. While rare, snow is not unheard of this time of year in northeast Minnesota. On Sept. 18, 1991, 2.5 inches of snow fell at the Duluth International Airport.
Wednesday's strong winds led the Pagami Creek fire, burning east of Ely, to expand from 16,000 acres to over 100,000 acres - making it the largest forest fire in Minnesota in 93 years. The fire was ignited by a lightning strike back on Aug. 18. It was deemed no threat to people or property at that time and per Forest Service policy was allowed to burn. Northwest winds carried the smoke as far south as Chicago, where skies were obscured and residents reported the air smelled like burning garbage. City officials issued air quality warnings and many Chicago area schools postponed outdoor sporting events. The smoke also led the Milwaukee Brewers to close the roof over Miller Park for Wednesday evening's game.
Temperatures should continue to warm through the weekend. Forecasts are calling for highs near 60 today and 70 on Sunday. Mornings won't be frosty as low temperatures reach only into the low to mid 40s. Next week will feel balmy as highs make it into the 70s and lows hold around 50.
Siemers is the Pioneer's circulation director.
Email him at tsiemers@