The National Weather Service says current conditions could lead to wildfires in parts of the state.

The National Weather Service says current conditions could lead to wildfires in parts of the state. This is a grass fire last year.

This may be the warmest day of the year so far and a Red Flag Warning is posted due to the critical risk of wildfires for more than 20 counties across western, northwestern and north-central Iowa this afternoon.

Meteorologist Roger Vachalek at the National Weather Service says conditions are expected to be much warmer than normal, in the 60s and 70s, and it could be very hazardous.

“We’re expecting some very strong winds to develop during the afternoon hours, about 25 to 30 miles per hour and relative humidity down to about 25% or so for a few hours,” Vachalek says. “Anytime fires develop, they can spread very rapidly and burning is discouraged across the region.”

In addition to the warm, dry weather, there’s plenty of fuel out there in the form of dormant or dead vegetation. “Grasses and brush have been accumulating over the winter months and from last fall,” Vachalek says. “That’s all available to be burned if there is a fire. People need to be very cautious if they have burn barrels or if they have plans to do some brush burns.”

Iowans are also urged to be careful if they’re using any machinery or equipment outdoors this afternoon that may pose a fire risk. “Most of the time, that would be in the fall,” Vachalek says. “Even combines have been known to cause fires just due to sparks and overheating of some components, but in the spring months, folks need to be careful if they are operating machinery out there and it has a tendency to get hot.” The Red Flag Warning is in place from noon until 6 P.M. Vachalek was not aware of any burn bans being issued as yet by counties or cities in Iowa.

See more on the warnings at www.weather.gov.