GFMC: Forest Fires in the United States

Forest Fires in the United States

10 June 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 9 June 2002 (observation time) and10 June 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, 9 June 2002
(Source: WAFS)

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

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Keetch-Byram Drought Index Maps for conterminous US, 9 June2002
(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,
Left: Heat signatures (red) and smoke plumes (light blue haze) are visible from a fires burning in California. The Wolf Fire has burned 10,644 acres in Los Padres National Forest and was 15% contained. The Copper Fire has scorched 12,000 acres and was 5% contained. The blaze has charred six residents along with seven outbuildings in the Drinkwater Canyon, CA area. This information is from the National Interagency Fire Center Incident Management Situation Report from 6/07/2002. The pink areas visible in the upper right portion of the image are due to solar heating of the ground surface.
Right: A heat signature (red) and smoke plume (light blue haze) are visible from a fire burning in Utah. The Big Wash Fire has burned 1,200 acres 21 miles southeast of Cedar City, UT and was 0% contained. The blaze forced the evacuation of ten residences and threatened associated outbuildings. This information is from the National Interagency Fire Center Incident Management Situation Report from 6/07/2002. The pink areas visible in the bottom left portion of the image are due to solar heating of the ground surface.

(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

Colorado wildfire forces evaucation of town
DENVER – A rapidly moving wildfire in western Colorado forced the evacuation of2,000 local residents and closed an interstate highway on the weekend, fireofficials said.
The fire broke out in a mountain canyon about 5 miles (8 km) west of GlenwoodSprings, Colorado, about 170 miles (274 km) west of Denver. It has destroyedfive homes and one commercial building, said Liz Mauch, spokeswoman for theUpper Colorado River Interagency Fire Management team.
“This was apparently an underground coal fire that burned to the surfaceand caught some oak brush vegetation,” Mauch said.
Flames from the blaze, which has consumed 2,000 acres (800 hectares) of land,jumped across Interstate 70, forcing its closure for 30 miles (48 km) in bothdirections, she said. The 2,000 residents of West Glenwood were evacuatedSaturday night.
Ground crews from local, state and federal agencies were on the scene. Twoaerial tankers dropped fire retardant slurry at nightfall after high winds anddense smoke grounded the planes earlier, Mauch said.
Ten new wildfires erupted in the drought-stricken state on the weekend. About800 wildfires have seared 100,000 acres (40,000 hectares) of forest andgrassland in Colorado this year. The federal government has designated theentire state a disaster area.
Source: Planet Ark

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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