GFMC: Forest Fires in the United States

Forest Fires in the United States

22 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 21August 2001 (observation time) and 22 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, 21 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, 21 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-12 POES AVHRR satellite images, 21 August 2001.
Heat signatures (red) and smoke (light blue haze) are visible from various fires:

Image 1  Washington. The Virginia Lake fire has burned 71,000 acres northeast of  Brewster and was 30% contained. The Rex Creek Complex fire has  charred 43,770 acres in the Lake Chelan-Sawtooth Wilderness Area  and was 0% contained. The Icicle fire has scorched 7,275 acres 6 miles  southwest of Leavenworth and was 30% contained. The Mt. Leona Complex fire has burned 4,546 acres in Colville National Forest and  was 0% contained. Currently, there are eight active fires in the state of  Washington responsible for scorching an estimated 140,024 acres.  Image 2 Oregon. The Olallie Lake Complex fire has burned 2,500 acres in Mt. Hood National Forest and was 35 percent contained. The Big Creek fire has scorched 620 acres in the Umatilla National Forest and was 60% contained.  Image 3 Montana. The Werner Peak fire has burned 1,120 acres in Flathead National Forest and was 10% contained.  Image 4 California. The Trough fire has burned 16,751 acres in Mendocino National Forest and was 76% contained as of Monday. The Hoover fire has charred 1,920 acres in Yosemite National Park and was 0% contained. The Whire fire has scorched 185 acres in Stranislaus National Forest and was 50% contained.  Information taken from the National Interagency Fire Center Wildland Fire Update on 8/21/2001.
(Source: OSEI/NOAA)

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

Nasa´s Earthobservatory

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This image of  “Widespread Fires in the Pacific Northwest ”  was acquired by
Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on 18 August 2001.
The fires have produced a large, greyish shroud of smoke and haze covering much of
the region. The brighter, whiter streaks running north-south are overlying clouds.

For details see:
Source: Nasa´s Earthobservatory
(Image courtesy Jacques Descloitres, MODIS Land
Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC )

The TOMS Global Aerosol Hot Spots Page provides screened close-ups of regions with active fires and smoke emissions, displayed in the following table.

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15 August 2001 16 August 2001 17 August 2001

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18 August 2001 19 August 2001 20 August 2001

Smoke over the United States
(Source: TOMS Global Aerosol Hot Spots Page)

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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