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Cold front to whip up wind, fire danger

UPDATED: Mon., Oct. 1, 2012, 3:40 p.m.

The National Weather Service has upgraded its fire weather watch to a red flag fire warning and also issued a hazardous weather outlook for a dry cold front that is expected to whip up winds across the region on Tuesday.

The front should cross the region during the overnight hours and trigger north winds through the day on Tuesday. The warning is in effect from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday. Wind gusts to 28 mph are possible in the Spokane area and up to 50 mph on mountain ridges.

Low humidity levels are expected to accompany the front.

The strongest winds should be near the Okanogan Valley and high basin plateau in Douglas County. Northeast winds at 10 to 15 mph will persist through Wednesday in the Spokane area.

Today’s high should reach the upper 70s for one more day of summerlike weather.

Temperatures will drop to the 60s for highs and lower to middle 30s for lows by mid-week. Temperatures could fall 20 degrees by Wednesday as the fall air settles over the region.

The cold weather moving south from Alaska could bring the first frost of the season. Tomatoes and other tender plants should be covered starting on Tuesday night to keep them alive for an extended growing season.

Meanwhile, a stage-1 burning ban in place since Sept. 20 was lifted over Spokane today because of improving air quality. The ban affected non-certified stoves and fireplaces.

Gov. Chris Gregoire continued an outdoor burning ban across the state through Oct. 7.