The National Weather Service issued a red-flag warning for fire danger Monday and also issued a hazardous weather outlook for a dry cold front that is expected to whip up winds across the region.
The front was expected to reach the region by this morning and trigger increasing winds out of the northwest and north. The warning is in effect from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. today. 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, which moved south on Monday from Alaska where an early snowfall was reported.
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.
Temperatures will drop to the 60s for highs and lower to middle 30s for lows by midweek.
Temperatures from Monday to Wednesday could fall 20 degrees as the autumn air settles over the region.
The cold air could bring the first frost of the season by Wednesday night and Thursday morning when Spokane has a forecast low of 31. Tomatoes and other tender plants should be covered starting as early as 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 on Monday because of improving air quality.
The ban affected noncertified stoves and fireplaces.
Gov. Chris Gregoire continued an outdoor burning ban across the state through Sunday.