Unseasonably warm and dry conditions are prompting a red flag warning of fire dangers Friday for most of Northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.

A record-setting dry March, unusually high temperatures and east winds are behind the National Weather Service’s warning that conditions are favorable for high fire danger. Authorities are asking the public to be careful with ignitions outdoors and to avoid burning, especially in grassy areas.

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Portland National Weather Service Meteorologist Daniel Hartsock said the east winds will not be as strong as what the region experienced last year during the Labor Day fires, when winds reached speeds of 50-75 mph.

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“But they will be picking up to 25 to 35 miles per hour, possibly more through the higher terrain,” he said.

Hartsock said although the east winds are expected to die down by Friday night, precautions should still be taken this weekend. He said the region is still experiencing unusually warm weather.

“We’re looking back at some of our rainfall this past month and it looks like we’re going to be one of the driest on record for a March first through mid-April,” Hartsock said. “Typically, the first two weeks of April we see an inch and a half of rainfall but we’ve only gotten a tenth of an inch of rain and we don’t see any rain coming in the next week or so.”

During a press conference on Friday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown asked the public to be cautious and prepared.

“We’re entering a weekend of unseasonably warm weather and east winds,” Brown said. “We learned the hard way last year just how quickly things can spiral. "

The red flag warning is expected to be lifted Friday evening.

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