SIOUX CITY, Iowa (AP) – Residents in northwest Iowa are preparing for another blast of winter-like weather – two weeks into spring. The National Weather Service has issued a winter storm warning starting Thursday afternoon into Friday morning for the northwestern corner of Iowa. The agency says rain and snow, possibly mixed with sleet, is expected Thursday afternoon.
Blowing snow is expected Thursday night into Friday, with up to 3 inches of snow and sleet expected. Wind gusts of up to 45 mph are expected Friday with high temperatures in the mid-30s. Winds are expected to diminish by midnight, and skies will clear by Saturday, bringing temperatures in the mid- to upper 50s.
Recent and forecast rain has prompted Emergency Management officials in Shelby County to lower the outdoor Fire Danger risk from “High”, to “Moderate.” The “moderate” rating will be in effect through Monday morning, following another assessment of conditions in the County.
Emergency Manager Bob Seivert says if you need help planning your controlled burn, please feel free to contact the Emergency Mgt Agency, 712-755-2124 or your local Fire Chief for assistance.
We’re two weeks into spring but parts of northern Iowa will be looking a lot more like winter later today (Thursday) as several inches of snow are in the forecast. State climatologist Harry Hillaker is finished compiling the weather data for March and says the just-ended month was much chillier than normal for Iowa. “Temperatures were running about six-and-a-half degrees colder than usual for March,” Hillaker says. “It ranks as the 22nd coldest March in 142 years of records, although just last year, March of 2013 was colder than this one.”
In Atlantic, the average low for the month of March was 17.5-degrees. We set two record low temps in March, on the second and third days of the month. The average high was 42.1. Hillaker says we’ve had six months in a row now of colder-than-normal months in Iowa and the trend is continuing into April. Precipitation was also off during March as it was exceptionally dry. “Statewide, we had an average of only about 83-hundreds of an inch of precipitation which is about one-third the usual amount for the month,” he says. “That ranks as the 11th driest March on record among 142 years of records.”
In Atlantic, we received one-third of an inch of precipitation (.33”), from rain and melted snowfall. Snowfall in Atlantic for the month amounted to just 1.9-inches. April is already starting off colder-than-normal though the long dry spell may be coming to an end.
“It does look like, at least in the short term, next week or so, we may have precipitation amounts somewhat above normal, which is something we haven’t had for some time,” Hillaker says. “Some of that could still be coming in the form of snow, especially over in northern parts of the state.”
A few areas of the state, like Sidney and Glenwood in far southwest Iowa, are reporting last month was their driest-ever March.
Today: Showers, with thunderstorms also possible after 9am. High near 46. Breezy, with an east northeast wind 13 to 17 mph, with gusts as high as 25 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Tonight: Rain and sleet before midnight, then rain and snow likely between midnight and 2am, then a chance of snow after 2am. Some thunder is also possible. Low around 30. Windy, with a northwest wind 15 to 24 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 80%. New snow and sleet accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Friday: A slight chance of rain or freezing rain before 10am. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 40. Windy, with a northwest wind 23 to 30 mph, with gusts as high as 39 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 27. Windy, with a northwest wind 16 to 21 mph becoming light west northwest after midnight. Winds could gust as high as 29 mph.
Saturday: Sunny, with a high near 54. South wind 7 to 14 mph, with gusts as high as 18 mph.
Saturday Night: A 30 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 41.
Sunday: A 30 percent chance of rain. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 57.
(Forecast update: 3:56-a.m. 4/2/2014)
Today: Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm, mainly after 3pm. Cloudy, with a high near 45. Breezy, with an east wind 9 to 14 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the afternoon. Winds could gust as high as 28 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Tonight: Showers and thunderstorms likely before 10pm, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm between 10pm and 1am, then a chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1am. Cloudy, with a low around 40. Breezy, with an east northeast wind 13 to 16 mph, with gusts as high as 23 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch, except higher amounts possible in thunderstorms.
Thursday: A chance of showers and thunderstorms, then showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm after 4pm. Cloudy, with a high near 46. East northeast wind 13 to 15 mph, with gusts as high as 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Thursday Night: Rain likely before 4am, then snow likely. Some thunder is also possible. Cloudy, with a low around 30. Windy, with a northwest wind 14 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 31 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Friday: Snow likely, possibly mixing with rain after 10am, then gradually ending. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 42. Windy, with a northwest wind 24 to 28 mph, with gusts as high as 37 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Friday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 25. Blustery.
Saturday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 52.
Officials with the Atlantic Fire Department put out a plea on their social media website, asking residents not to do any open burning “Of any type, or discard of any smoking material. This includes burning trash!!” Recent and continuing high, sustained winds and dry conditions have contributed to many fires across southwest Iowa. The AFVD says they hope that by spreading the word on open burning and being safe in discarding smoking materials, and will voluntary compliance, authorities will not have to issue a Burn Ban.
A carelessly discarded cigarette from a passing vehicle is being blamed for a large grass fire that occurred Monday afternoon north of Interstate 80, in Adair County. Adair Fire Chief Jordan Smith told KJAN News the fire started about two-miles east of the Adair Exit (77.5-mile marker) and was first paged out just before 3-pm, Monday. Smith said with the way the wind was blowing, the fire burned east-northeast along and north of the Interstate for about 2-miles. Firefighters managed to get the flames knocked down before they reached the westbound rest area, but not before the fire jumped 2 gravels roads as it raged eastward.
After the flames jumped one gravel road, and destroyed large, round hay bales. He said 50-to 60 bales were lost. Smith said hay bale fires are almost impossible to extinguish unless you spread them out and hose them down, which is dangerous and time consuming. A neighboring farmer who has construction equipment used his excavator and dug a big hole to dump the bales in and cover them up, allow the fire to be snuffed out.
Three firefighters from Adair suffered minor injuries while fighting the blaze. Smith says two had smoke inhalation, with another had minor burns to his face. The thick curtain of smoke created problems for motorists along Interstate 80. Visibility along the interstate was down to zero at time. Several law enforcement agencies were requested for traffic control. The eye-catching fire also attracted “rubber-neckers,” who Smith says can be a real hindrance to fire fighting efforts, and endanger lives.
Smith says firefighters from Adair, Casey, Stuart, Menlo, Anita, Wiota, Greenfield, Bridgewater, and Fontanelle were on the scene for about 5-hours, finally wrapping things up at around 8-pm, Monday.
The Fire Danger signs throughout Shelby County will remain in the HIGH category this week. Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Seivert says although the County experienced some precipitation (.30”) in the last 24 hours, the placards will remain in the HIGH category due to predicted winds, and lower Relative Humidity today.
Seivert says until we get more green grasses growing, the fine dead fuels will continue to pose a HIGH fire danger with wind, and low humidity. Officials are asking residents to postpone burning until at least Thursday.
If you must burn, contact your local Fire Chief to make sure that are made aware, and provides authorization for the burn. If a burn is allowed to occur we ask the Chief to call 712-755-2124 and advise the Communications Center that a burn will take place.