The metro area is under a red flag warning through 7 p.m. Wednesday because of what the National Weather Service calls a “critical fire danger.”

It’s breezy today, and heavy winds out of the southwest – gusting to 30 to 35 mph – are expected to build Wednesday morning. The relative humidity is low, and conditions are generally dry. The combination of wind, warmth, dry air and dry combustible materials such as grasses that haven’t greened up yet is what typically causes officials to post red flag warnings.

In addition, the city of Independence remains under a burn ban. That ban doesn’t apply to outdoor grilling, but official advise extreme caution.

Jackson County is near the southeast corner of an area encompassing dozens of counties under a red-flag warning today. That area includes 11 counties in western Missouri, the western edge of Iowa, southwest Minnesota, most of South Dakota and Nebraska, and northern Kansas, plus eastern Kansas as south as Ottawa and Paola.

– Jeff Fox