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Jackson County under red flag warning starting Sunday

It might be late October, but the National Weather Service warns that dry and windy weather will have Jackson County under a red flag warning from early Sunday into at least Monday.

The conditions are forecast to run from about 8 a.m. Sunday until 11 a.m. Monday, according to weather officials. The affected coverage area includes the Rogue Valley’s southern half, the Illinois and Shasta valleys, and mid to upper slopes and ridges in areas along and west of the Cascades, south of the Umpqua Divide and along the Coastal Range, according to a Weather Service bulletin.

“Strong high pressure will build east of the Cascades Saturday night. This will result in gusty east winds early Sunday morning and are expected to continue into Sunday night before diminishing early Monday morning at the mid slopes and ridges,” the bulletin reads. “However, there is concern stronger winds could funnel into some of the valleys.”

During this period, winds from the east are forecast to reach sustained speeds of 15 to 25 mph with 35 mph gusts. Humidity levels are expected to be from 9% to 15%, the bulletin said.

High temperatures are expected to be in the high 50s to low 60s for Medford and Ashland Sunday and Monday. Some parts of the Cascades and ridges in the Umpqua Basin could see some rain, but measurable rain — at least 0.01 inches — is expected to bypass Jackson County, meteorologist Miles Bliss said.

The forecast follows a previous red flag warning for a thin slice of southern Jackson County and slopes and valleys in western Siskiyou County, which ran through 11 a.m. Friday.

Fire danger on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry in Jackson and Josephine counties remained at “moderate” Friday.

“Even though it’s really late in the season, we’re still just always on high alert, because we’re in fire season, and the fuels are still dry,” said ODF spokeswoman Natalie Weber. “We do have some green up in the fields, which is great, and that’s signaling the change in the season, but there are still a lot of dry fuels out there.”

The dry conditions are compounded by recent overnight freezes, Weber said, adding that ODF seasonal staff are at the ready in case a new fire breaks out.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com.