Fire weather watch today for Wichita area

The National Weather Service has issued a fire weather watch for 13 counties in southern Kansas this afternoon and evening, including the Wichita area.

The watch takes effect at 1 p.m., as south winds are expected to gust up to 35 miles an hour on a warm, dry day. A fire weather watch is one step below a red flag warning, which means the fire danger is critical and any fires will spread furiously and burn intensely.

A Red Flag warning has been issued for this afternoon and evening in 14 counties of north-central Kansas, along and west of U.S. 75. The Red Flag warning could be extended south into the Wichita area if conditions worsen, weather officials say.

Counties included in the fire weather watch are Russell, Lincoln, Barton, Ellsworth, Saline, Rice, McPherson, Reno, Harvey, Kingman, Sedgwick, Harper and Sumner.

Red flag counties are Republic, Washington, Marshall, Nemaha, Cloud, Clay, Riley, Pottawatomie, Ottawa, Dickinson, Geary, Morris, Wabaunsee and Lyon.