The recent stretch of unseasonably warm and dry weather forced a slightly earlier start to the 2017 fire weather season for much of Iowa. Fire weather planning forecasts and a daily Grassland Fire Danger map are displayed on the fire weather page of our website as is the current Annual Operating Plan.
Late last fall there was a re-design of the spot forecast request page with a few additional tweaks being made over the winter. The spot request page is Google based now and overall is easier to use than the old page. However, there are some things to keep in mind. Since the spot request page is only used by government agencies and those with government contracts, most of these changes will not impact the majority of customers that use the fire weather page. Training on the new spot page is provided by clicking on the link within the fire weather page.
In other fire weather news, there have been studies done on the Grassland Fire Danger Index in particular, how it relates to when we are issuing Red Flag Warnings based on fuels and meteorological parameters. There was confirmation that the ranges for the categories, in particular the very high and extreme categories, needed some adjusting for the Plains. Changes were made based on where tall grass, short grass and mixed grass prairies exists and a proposal is being worked on to not only adopt these changes but to have all central region offices run the Grassland Fire Danger Index for their areas and see if this is a better tool at determining a grassland danger threat.
To view the fire weather forecasts, fire weather planning tools and the 2017 Annual Operating, please visit the National Weather Service website at: http://www.weather.gov/dmx/fire