Wind reached 28 mph in downtown Phoenix, Ariz., on Friday, April 28, 2017. Courtney Pedroza/azcentral.com
The Phoenix metro area remained under a high-wind advisory for Friday night, after gusts in the region reached 50 mph in some areas, according to the National Weather Service said.
NWS received reports by early Friday evening from different airports in Valley, including in Goodyear and Sky Harbor in Phoenix, of winds gusting at speeds ranging from the upper 40 mph range into the low 50s, said meteorologist James Sawtelle.
The winds are expected to “get stronger during the early part of the evening,” calming down between 11 p.m. and midnight, Sawtelle said.
He warned drivers that, while visibility will remain between three and six miles, the strong gusts could redirect a vehicle.
“That’s a pretty significant wind,” Sawtelle said. “You’ll want to keep two hands on the wheel.”
Those gusts also hit Friday afternoon when a sailboat capsized in Tempe Town Lake, though the two occupants of the boat were uninjured, Tempe Fire Department officials said.
“The winds were obviously way too strong for them to be able to manage and successfully operate the sailboat as it was out there,” said Pat Bailey, a Tempe Fire Department spokesman. “They had whitecaps and everything else, and the weren’t able to control the boat.”
A”red flag” warning was issued by NWS that warned the high winds could increase fire danger in the area.
“You don’t want to throw your cigarette butts out the window,” Sawtelle said.
Friday afternoon, a roughly 12-acre brush fire erupted in an area along State Route 74 northwest of Phoenix. At the same time, northeast of Mesa, the Cactus Fire, which sparked earlier this week,still burned, torching about 500 acres. Bush Highway remained closed in that area.
Outlying mountains that are normally visible from many parts of the Valley became barely visible by late afternoon Friday as winds whipped up dust around the region.
The Arizona Department of Air Quality issued a High Pollution Advisory starting Sunday and extending until Tuesday, saying ozone levels are expected to be high.
The advisory says children and people with respiratory disease, like asthma, should limit “prolonged exertion outdoors,” while the advisory is in place.
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