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What is a high wind warning?

Wind gusts of 65+ mph are possible on Wednesday afternoon and evening, with thunderstorm gusts possibly nearing 80 mph.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Download the We Are Iowa app for the latest forecast, interactive radar and livestream video of severe weather coverage.

It's not a weather alert we see every day, let alone every year. 

98 of Iowa's 99 counties are under a High Wind Warning Wednesday afternoon through Wednesday night- in the middle of December.

This is a rare setup for any time of the year, let alone ten days before Christmas. 

Non-thunderstorm wind gusts upwards of 65 mph will be possible. Thunderstorm wind gusts could climb as high as 80-90 mph in the strongest storms. 

For comparison, Severe Thunderstorm Warnings are issued for thunderstorms capable of producing wind gusts of 58 mph or greater.

According to the National Weather Service, a High Wind Warning means "sustained winds of 40 mph for one hour and/or frequent gusts of at least 58 mph are occurring or expected within the next 36 hours."

For Polk and Dallas Counties, this will be the first High Wind Warning since November 2015.

Credit: IEM

For much of the state, though, this is the first High Wind Warning in several years.

There are ways to prepare for the expected high wind gusts, including securing loose objects outside, outdoor furniture, and holiday decorations.

The intense winds will also cause difficult travel, particularly for high-profile vehicles like semi trucks and large SUVs. 

North/south travel is discouraged, if possible, between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. Wednesday due to the potential for gusts upwards of 65 mph. 

Wind is expected to die down after midnight, but it will not really become noticeably calmer until early Thursday. 

RELATED: LOCAL 5 FORECAST: High winds, severe weather likely on Wednesday

RELATED: Why you should put your decorations and trash cans away before Wednesday

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