GFMC: Forest Fires in the United States

Forest Fires in the United States

8 May 2002

Wildland Fire Update
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) based in Boise (Idaho) provides key information on current wildland fire situations, related information and background materials. The following information is updated daily and can be accessed directly:

  • State-by-State daily and year-to-date summary of fire activities
  • Year-to-date State-by-State total number of wildland fires and area burned (table)
  • Daily locations of large fires (map)

The National Interagency Coordination Center (NICC)  provides daily situation reports. These reports include:

  • Incident Management Situation Reports (fires and area burned reported to NICC). The files include current, previous and archived reports
  • Prescribed Fire and Wildland Fire Use (year-to-date fires and area burned reported to NICC, posted weekly on Monday mornings)

Archived NICC Incident Management Reports (recent daily reports and archived daily reports 1994-1997) are provided by the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI)

Fire Weather & Fire Danger Information
The Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) is a contribution of “The Fire Behavior Research Work Unit”, Missoula (Montana USA). The broad area component of the Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS) generates maps of selected fire weather and fire danger components.

Fire Danger (Potential) is a normalized adjective rating class across different fuel models and station locations. It is based on information provided by local station managers about the primary fuel model, fire danger index selected to reflect staffing level, and climatological class breakpoints. Low danger (Class 1) is green and extreme potential (Class 5) is red.

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Fire danger maps for the United States for 7 May 2002 (observation time) and8 May 2002 (forecast)
(Source: WAFS)

Dead fuel moisture responds solely to ambient environmental conditions and is critical in determining fire potential. Dead fuel moistures are classed by timelag.

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10-HR Fuel Moisture

100-HR Fuel Moisture

1000-HR Fuel Moisture

Fuel moisture maps for conterminous US, 7 May 2002
(Source: WAFS)

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is a soil/duff drought index. Factors in the index are maximum daily temperature, daily precipitation, antecedent precipitation, and annual precipitation. The index ranges from 0 (no drought) to 800 (extreme drought) (details).

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Keetch-Byram Drought Index Maps for conterminous US, 1 May 2002
(Source: WAFS)

Operational Significant Event Imagery (OSEI)
The following significant events were identified by Satellite Analysis Branch meteorologists and reviewed by the OSEI support team of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA):

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NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-14 POES AVHRR LAC satellite images,
A heat signature (red) and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from a fire burning to the east of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The fire has charred nearly 600 acres and is located in the Santa Fe National Forest.
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

Hundreds Evacuated in N. Mexico Fire
PECOS, N.M. (AP) — Firefighters worked to protect houses and a watershedon Tuesday from a northern New Mexico wildfire that had forced hundreds ofpeople out of their homes.
The 585-acre fire was moving toward the northeast Tuesday and elite “hotshot”fire crews struggled to keep the flames from moving into Santa Fe’s watershed,said Charlie Jankiewicz, fire information officer.
“It’s very steep, heavily forested terrain. It’s very difficult,” he said.
The city of Santa Fe, about 15 miles west of the fire, already is short of waterand has imposed severe restrictions.
Crews had contained 40 percent of the fire by late Tuesday.
State police asked about 300 residents of Dalton and Pecos canyons to leavetheir homes Monday as a precaution, said state police Lt. Rob Shilling. Severalsmall communities and campgrounds dot the pine-covered hills.
None of them had been allowed to return Tuesday, authorities said.
Dalton Canyon, where the fire started on Monday, contains about 15 homes.
“A structural fire group is protecting those homes right now and trying topretreat them so they do not burn — water, foaming them down, removing fuelfrom around the houses,” Jankiewicz said.
No homes had been burned and no fire-related injuries were reported, he said.
Cora Gonzales and her husband packed up their suitcases and gathered importantpapers and photographs of their grandchildren before leaving their home at thefoot of Macho Canyon.
“I could smell smoke. It was thick. It was the most smoke I’ve seen,” saidGonzales, who has lived in the area 17 years. She said she could see flames fromher front porch when they prepared to leave Monday.
To the north, a Colorado fire that had chased some 2,400 people from their homeswas 70 percent contained Tuesday, and crews hoped to have it fully contained byWednesday, fire information officer Sara Mayben said.
Tuesday night, residents were allowed to return to the last of nine subdivisionsin the area 25 miles west of Denver. Earlier, the 340-acre fire had spread towithin two miles of one cluster of homes.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
After a dry winter, more than 400 wildfires have burned about 15,600 acres inColorado this year, according to the Rocky Mountain Area Coordinating Center ofthe National Interagency Fire Center.
SOURCE: The New York Times

For more information on the recent fire situation see: Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics , especially  several articles since 1 November 2001.

Long-range weather forecasts
National Weather Service
Long-range, 30-day weather forecasts are predicting above-normal temperatures for the southern tier of states from southern California to Florida and throughout the Midwest (see 30 and 90-day forecast maps).

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30 and 90-day temperature and precipitation forecast maps (February2002 and February to April 2002)
(Source: National Weather Service)

The Florida Division of Forestry gives the following long-range Wildfire Season Forecast September – March 2002  for Florida:
“A return to near normal conditions in the equatorial Pacific Ocean marks the end of the prolonged La Niña event that brought very active fire seasons to the state the past few years. Normal to slightly warmer sea surface temperatures in the Pacific will bring us our first “normal” winter in a while, and if sea surface temperatures continue to slowly warm we may get above normal rainfall this winter.”

For further information see: Wildfire Season Forecast of the Florida Division of Forestry
For further information you may also see to the U.S. Drought Monitor.

For background information on the Southern Area see the Edited Version of the Southern Area Intelligence Briefing Paper for 22 April 2001.

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