GFMC: Forest Fires in the United States

Forest Fires in the United States

15 August 2001

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)

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 14August 2001 (observation time) and 15 August 2001 (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, 15 August 2001
(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, 15 August 2001
(Source: WAFS)

Near-real time satellite images
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,13 August 2001.
Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from various fires.

Image 1: Washington and British Columbia. The Virginia Lake fire has burned 12,000 acres innortheast Washington near the town of Okanogan, and is 0 percent contained. Three other fires (Icicle fire [0 percent contained], Brewster Complex fire [0 percentcontained], and Goose Lake fire [75 percent contained]) are also burning in that area charring nearly 3,000 acres. 
Image 2
: Oregon. The Monument fire and Bridge Creek fire, denoted by the left and rightyellow arrows in the upper right, have burned 1,100 acres and are both 0 percent contained. The Crane Prairie Complex fire, denoted by the yellow arrow to the bottomleft, has burned 350 acres in the Deschutes National Forest and is 30 percent contained. 
Image 3
:  California and Oregon. The Blue Complex fire in northern California has burned27,800 acres and is 10 percent contained. 
Image 4
: Northern California and Nevada. The Gap fire (denoted by the bottom yellow arrow),which has forced the evacuation of Yuba Gap, Carpenter Gap, and the Marin Sierra Boy Scout Camp, has burned roughly 1,600 acres and is 10 percent contained. TheObservation fire (denoted by the two yellow arrows at the top of the image) has burned 57,000 acres and is 45 percent contained. 
Image 5
: Nevada. The Buffalo and Hot Lake fires, denoted by the yellow arrows to the right,are both 0 percent contained and have burnt 15,000 acres. Several other large fires can also be seen burning to the south of Winnemucca.

All information is from the National Interagency Fire Center Wildland Fire Update.
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

For more information on the recent fire situation see: Recent Media Highlights on Fire, Policies, and Politics 

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 (August and August to October 2001)
(Source: National Weather Service)

The Florida Division of Forestry gives the following long-range outlook summary of the recent Fire Weather & Fire Danger Information for Florida (updated June, 2001):
“Normal summer rainy pattern is developing across the state which will greatly reduce the wildfire threat. Current long-range forecasts offer little more than a guess that conditions will be near normal for the next several months. Several forecasts of Pacific ocean sea surface temperatures indicate a potential for a weak El Nino to develop for this winter, which would bring a wetter than normal 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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