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Much of Arizona saw gusty winds and warm temperatures on Wednesday, leading officials to warn of dust, low visibility for driving, and ideal wildfire conditions. 

The National Weather Service issued a red flag warning for much of Arizona on Wednesday as gusty winds, low humidity and high temperatures presentedpossible fire conditions.

A dust advisory was issued after 4:30 p.m. Wednesday as parts of Maricopa and Pinal counties saw gusts of wind over 40 mph, causing visibility as low as 1 mile in some places. The dust advisory expired at 6:30 p.m., according to the weather service.

The wind caused power issues for some. About 6,000 people, mostly in the East Valley, were out of power at about 6:30 p.m. due to the storm, Salt River Project spokesperson Patty Garcia-Likens told The Arizona Republic. Three Arizona Public Service Company power outages in the metro Phoenix area were caused by the strong winds, spokesperson Lily Quezada said.

People experiencing high winds should consider finding shelter and closing windows and doors. Valley fever is spread by breathing in spores carried by blowing dust. Seeking shelter during storms can reduce the risk of contracting valley fever.

High temperature in Phoenix over 85 degrees for the first time this year

Also, the temperature at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport hit 86 degrees, which makes Wednesday the first time the temperature hit above 85 degrees this year, according to the Weather Service.

The likely reason for the high temperature was strong southerly winds mixed with warmer air down to the surface and a bit of a downslope component off South Mountain into Sky Harbor, the weather service said.

Temperatures were expected to cool down back to the 70s on Thursday as a cold front brings strong winds into southern Arizona. Temperatures will return to the 80s on Friday and the warning will expire. 

Wind, heat means fire danger

Weather service meteorologists said the high temperature for southern Arizona could range from 80 to 82 degrees, and due to “strong and gusty” winds and relatively low humidity, fire danger is possible.

The warning will be in effect from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday with south winds 20 to 30 mph and gusts up to 45 mph, according to the weather service. Humidity will be as low as 10%.

In addition to Phoenix, Tucson and Flagstaff areas receiving the warning, weather service meteorologists said the warning also applies to much of southern Arizona and the western half of northern Arizona, adding up to roughly “40-50%” of the state. 

The weather service said people should be careful of the enhanced weather conditions and wary of engaging in any activities involving fire. 

Reach the reporter Connor Van Ligten at [email protected] or on Twitter @Connor_VL.

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