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Fire weather watch issued for area Saturday

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Both a fire weather watch and a wind advisory have been issued for areas of New Mexico, including the southeastern portion of the state, for at least part of the weekend.

The fire weather watch — issued by the National Weather Service in Midland and Odessa, Texas — is set to remain in effect from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday.

“Very windy conditions will combine with low relative humidity and dry fuels to create critical fire weather in the Guadalupe and Delaware Mountains, Southeast New Mexico and Culberson County (Texas),” the watch statement reads. People are advised to avoid using open flames for any activity that might create sparks.

“Accidental ignitions will have the potential to grow into dangerous wind-driven wildfires. Any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly. Outdoor burning is not recommended,” the fire watch states.

Andrew Church, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albuquerque, said that Saturday in Chaves County, relative humidity will drop down to between 10% and 12%, while winds reach speeds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts of up to 45 mph.

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The fire weather watch coincides with a wind advisory issued by the National Weather Service in Albuquerque for Chaves, Curry, Quay and Roosevelt counties that will remain in effect Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The heavy winds could cause unsecured objects to blow around and possibly result in some power outages, according to the advisory.

Motorists are encouraged to use caution when driving, and objects that are outdoors should be secured, the advisory states.

Though the fire weather watch only covers Saturday afternoon, Church said some of the dangers that high winds and humidity pose are likely to still be present Sunday, with wind speeds actually increasing to as high as 30 to 40 mph and gusts of up to 50 mph. Humidity will improve slightly on Sunday, rising to about 15%.

“So you are still going to have some issues with the potential for any fires to start to grow rapidly,” he said.

The conditions are expected to improve Monday, with southwest winds of 10 to 15 mph.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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