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Gusty winds raise fire hazards around Houston

Dale Lezo, Houston Chronicle
Updated 7:56 am, Tuesday, March 5, 2013
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Heavy winds will probably rake the Houston region for at least a day as a cold front pushes through the area.

The front is likely to arrive sometime early Tuesday morning, dropping temperatures and sparking gusty winds, according to the National Weather Service. Forecasters said the chilly air will probably drop low temperatures early Wednesday into the upper 30s in the metropolitan area and possibly near freezing farther north near Conroe. Highs likely will be in the mid-60s for at least a few days

"The front definitely is going to cool us down," said Kent Prochazka, a meteorologist with the weather service.

The mercury will gradually climb through the weekend, Prochazka added.

On Tuesday, the high will be near 70 degrees. Cloudy skies in the morning will gradually clear later in the day. The low will be about 39 after the chilly air settles in the region.

A red flag warning had been issued through 6 p.m. because high winds and dry conditions likely will combine to create dangerous fire hazards. Breezy west winds will be between 10 mph and 20 mph early in the day and will become northerly in the afternoon. Gusts could be as high as 30 mph. A wind advisory also has been issued through 6 p.m.

The high winds can make battling fires difficult, said Prochazka. He also said drivers of high-profile vehicles, such as big rigs and motor homes, should be cautious on the roadways, especially as they cross bridges and high freeway connectors.

Winds gradually taper off by Wednesday when north winds will be between about 5 mph and 10 mph. The high will be near 65 under sunny skies. The low will be about 42.

More sunny and mild temperatures are expected on Thursday. The high will be about 66. The low will be near 50.

The mercury likely will climb slightly on Friday, when the high will be about 70 degrees under cloudy skies. The low will be near 58.

The weekend may be cloudy and possibly wet. Prochazka said an upper-level low pressure area may move through the region, sparking a chance for showers and thunderstorms late on the weekend. The high Saturday and Sunday will be about 74. The lows will be between the lower 60s and mid-50s. A 40 percent chance of rain may be possible Sunday.