Eintime Conversion for education and research 10-15-2009 @ 12:57:28
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Record heat, fire threat in the East

By Bob Swanson, USA TODAY

One more sizzling day in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic before rain and cooler temperatures arrive to close out the week. Meanwhile, snow continues to pile up in the northern Rockies.

The heat goes on— Record and near-record heat is again expected throughout the Mid-Atlantic, with warm southwesterly winds picking up through the day in advance of a cold front. Widespread high temperatures will top out at 10 to 25 degrees above average. With southwesterly winds picking up, red flag fire warnings have been posted for parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Code orange air quality (unhealthy for sensitive groups) is expected for parts of Connecticut today.

The temperature, fire weather and air quality situation will improve dramatically with the passage of a cold front through the Northeast this afternoon and this evening, bringing with it showers, thunderstorms and a cooler air mass. The front will become stationary in the Mid-Atlantic, with rain chances lingering in the region for the rest of the work week.

Snow piles up in the northern Rockies— A storm system centered over Wyoming today will bring widespread valley rain and mountain snow to the northern Rockies. The heaviest snowfall is expected for east-facing slopes of western Montana mountains. Blizzard and winter storm warnings are widespread throughout central and western parts of Montana, with winter weather advisories extending into Idaho and Wyoming as well. This prolonged snow event could result in 15 to 20 inches of snow over the plains of western Montana, with 2 to 3 feet piling up in the mountains, through Thursday morning.

Severe thunderstorm threat— The Storm Prediction Center has defined a slight risk area for severe thunderstorms today and tonight for parts of eastern New Mexico, western Oklahoma and much of West Texas. On Wednesday, the severe thunderstorm threat will include most of the central and southern Plains.

Rain, flooding for South— Showers and thunderstorms are widespread this morning from southeastern Michigan through the lower Ohio Valley into northeastern Arkansas. Heavy rainfall this morning has prompted flash flood warnings across parts of southeastern Texas. Heaviest rainfall today and tonight is expected for central and southern Arkansas.

Additional rainfall on Wednesday could produce flash flooding for parts of northeastern Texas, eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas.

Fire weather— In addition to the red flag fire warnings in effect in New England, red flag fire warnings are in effect for much of Arizona, southern Nevada and southwestern Colorado, as well as much of west central Florida.

(Original Len: 3023 Condensed Len: 3251)

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