GFMC: Forest Fires in the United States

Forest Fires in the United States

26 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 25June 2002 (observation time) and 26 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, 25 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, 25 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 (light blue haze) are visible from fires burning in Arizona and Mexico. The Rodeo Fire has burned 210,000 acres three miles north of Cibecue,AZ and was 0% contained. The Chediski Fire, just to the west, has scorched 121,340 acres and was also 0% contained. This information is from the National Interagency Fire Center Incident Management Situation Report from 06/25/2002.
RIGHT: Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from fires burning in Colorado and Utah. The Pinyon Ridge Fire has burned 1,450 acres west of Craig, CO and was 25% contained. The Missionary Ridge Fire has scorched 66,310 acres in San Juan National Forest and was 30% contained. The Rattle Fire has charred 600 acres in eastern Utah and was 5% contained. The Diamond Creek Fire has burned 1,300 acres also in eastern Utah. This information is from the National Interagency Fire Center Incident Management Situation Report from 06/25/2002.
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

UPDATE – Ariz wildfire rages – Bush declares disaster
SHOW LOW, Ariz. – Firefighters battling one of the fiercest wildfires toscorch the U.S. West worked to shore up a key fire line protecting this smallArizona town yesterday, rolling out bulldozers and clearing away underbrush in adesperate effort to keep the flames at bay.
President George W. Bush, who declared fire-ravaged areas of eastern Arizona anational disaster area Tuesday, flew in to inspect the damage caused by themonster blaze, which now covers some 375,000 acres (152,000 hectares).
“I know this is a tough moment,” Bush told displaced families at ashelter in Eagar, Ariz., about 65 miles (105 km) southeast of the fire line.
An estimated 30,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes fromcommunities in the fire zone, which lies in pine-studded mountain country about150 miles (240 km) northeast of Phoenix.
In Show Low, the resort town menaced by the raging 520-square-mile (1,295-sq-km)wildfire, firefighters said they were using bulldozers to clear away trees andcontrolled burns of underbrush in an effort to hold the blaze west of U.S.Highway 60 along the town’s southern edge.
“If the fire moves across U.S. 60 there will be a wall of fire movingtoward Show Low,” said Chadeen Palmer, a fire spokeswoman.
Officials said they were cautiously optimistic their defenses would hold againstthe fire, now crackling within a half mile (0.8 km) of the town center.
“We are not saying it is imminent. We are not saying we are losinghope,” Palmer said, noting that the weather was helping with calmer, coolerconditions.

Bush viewed firsthand the fire’s monstrous path Tuesday, making a stop onhis way to a Canadian summit to thank firefighters and promise federal aid tofamilies who have lost their homes to the inferno.
“Hang in there,” he told a group of about 300 evacuees and rescueworkers in a high school cafeteria in Eagar.
Bush also took an aerial tour of the wildfire, flying over scorched hillsidesalong the fire’s 180-miles (288-km) perimeter and viewing huge plumes of smokethat mingled with the clouds.
Bush’s visit, and the promise of federal help for fire-struck families, cameafter an announcement by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that itwould make $20 million immediately available to the state to help defray costsof the firefighting operation.
Arizona Gov. Jane Hull said the FEMA aid would be just “a drop in thebucket,” reflecting fears among many local officials that western statescould face a string of major fire disasters this year after a prolonged droughtleft forests and brushland dry as kindling.
Already, 20 large fires are burning in nine states with more than 2.5 millionacres (1 million hectares) of land burned to date – more than double the annual10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise,Idaho.
As Bush toured the Arizona devastation, another fire in southwest Colorado, nearDurango, grew to 66,310 acres (26,855 hectares) Tuesday and has destroyed 45homes.
The Hayman fire, which has scorched some 137,000 acres (54,800 hectares) 50miles (80 km) southwest of Denver, is now 70 percent contained, althoughofficials are still not predicting when the 18-day-old blaze, that has destroyed133 houses, will be fully contained.

Show Low – named for the winning hand in a card game between two 19thcentury homesteaders – remained largely deserted Tuesday, three days after thetown’s 8,000 residents were told to pack their belongings and get out.
Ash drifted down on fire trucks and rescue vehicles, while the town took on theair of a military camp with police, firefighters and emergency workers helpingto organize the massive rescue effort.
That fire – now the largest wildfire in the nation – gained strength when twoblazes merged Sunday and now covers an area bigger than the city of Los Angeles.
The blaze has burned more than 329 houses and 16 businesses in the easternArizona high country, and firefighters were concerned that – even if the mainfire lines hold – the town of Show Low could still be threatened if flyingembers ignite “spot fires” in or around buildings.
“The sparks are going to be the most important factor today,” Palmer,the fire spokeswoman, said.
Source: Planet Ark

For more information on the recent fire situation see: Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics ,especially  several articles referring to the situation in Colorado.

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 (June2002 and June to August 2002)
(Source: National Weather Service)

CSA RADARSAT-1 Disaster Watch Report
The requests in this report were acquired within the past 96 hours.

The following requests were acquired under the MCS Disaster Watch:

Denver, Colorado, Wildfires, United States (3 image(s):
* 22 Jun 2002 00:45:49 UTC; S1; cycle 100 orbit 223.10356 duration 0.00862; RT: In – PASS)
* 25 Jun 2002 00:58:21 UTC; S4; cycle 100 orbit 266.10308 duration 0.00862; RT: In – PASS)
* 25 Jun 2002 13:12:21 UTC; S1; cycle 100 orbit 273.38777 duration 0.00862; RT: In – GSS)

The following requests were acquired by other Order Desks:

Alberta, Forest Fire , Canada (1 image(s):

* 24 Jun 2002 13:37:24 UTC; F4N; cycle 100 orbit 259.34475 duration 0.00125; RT:In – GSS)

Note that the 96 hour period ends at 19:00 UTC of the current day.
CSA RADARSAT-1 Disaster Watch
C/o: Satellite Operations
Canadian Space Agency

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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