USFS Fire and Aviation Management Morning Report (5 November 2000) [conversion table] National Overview:
Preparedness Level II
No new large fires were reported in the Southern Area. Initial attack activity was light to moderate in Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. One large fire was contained in Tennessee. Light precipitation and higher relative humidity moderated fire activity on some of the Southern Area large fires. Very high to extreme fire indices were reported in North Carolina and Virginia.
YesterdayYear to DateTen Year AverageFires 130 89,756 67,765 Acres Burned 15,270 7,193,755 3,153,769 Estimated Daily Cost $1,990,000
Large Fire Activity in the United States, 5 November 2000.
(Source: US Forest Service)
Note: Access summary information for individual fires from the NIFC Incident Management Situation Report.
National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) (3 November 2000)
The national response level increased on 2 November 2000 due to large wildland fire activity and extreme fire conditions in several states throughout the eastern and southern areas. Firefighters have been battling large fires in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia this past week, several of which required the assistance of national-level management teams.
The Shenandoah Complex in Shenandoah National Park is currently the largest fire and is burning about five miles southeast of Luray, Virginia. This complex of fires has caused road closures and precautionary evacuations for residences in Page and Madison counties. Fire managers expect to contain this fire by 17 November 2000.
Scattered showers are expected in Tennessee and Kentucky today, with increased precipitation and cloudy skies in Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia. The 30-day weather outlook is predicting normal temperatures and precipitation for the southern area of the country.
So far this year nearly 90,000 wildland fires have burned more than 7.1 million acres throughout the country.
Weather Outlook (5 November 2000) [conversion table]:
No new large fires were reported in the Southern Area. Initial attack activity was light to moderate in Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. One large fire was contained in Tennessee. Light precipitation and higher relative humidity moderated fire activity on some of the Southern Area large fires. The National Interagency Coordination Center mobilized helicopters, tactical aircraft, infrared aircraft, radio equipment, engines, crews, crew transport vehicles and overhead resources to the Southern Area. Very high to extreme fire indices were reported in North Carolina and Virginia.
A FIRE WEATHER WATCH IS POSTED IN VIRGINIA, DELAWARE, SOUTHEASTERN WEST VIRGINIA, FAR NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA AND THE MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA EASTERN SHORES FOR LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITIES AND STRONG WINDS.
A high pressure will build over most of Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolina’s bringing mostly sunny skies. A few clouds will linger over South Carolina with a slight chance of rain. The next weather system will begin to spread clouds and light rain into western Tennessee and Kentucky by late afternoon. Temperatures will be cooler with highs in the 50’s to 60’s with a few low 70’s in South Carolina. Winds will generally be northwest to northeast at 10 to 20 mph with speeds up to 25 mph in North Carolina and Virginia. Minimum relative humidities will range in the 30’s and 40’s with areas of upper 20’s in North Carolina and Virginia and in the 50’s in western Kentucky.
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.
Fire danger maps for the United States for 3 November 2000 (observation time) and 4 November 2000 (forecast)
Dead fuel moisture responds solely to ambient environmental conditions and is critical in determining fire potential. Dead fuel moistures are classed by timelag. A fuel’s timelag is proportional to its diameter and is loosely defined as the time it takes a fuel particle to reach 2/3’s of its way to equilibrium with its local environment. Dead fuels in NFDRS have four timelag classes:
1-hr: Fine flashy fuels, less than 1/4″ (< 0.63 cm) diameter. Responds quickly to weather changes. Computed from observation time temperature, humidity and cloudiness.
10-hr: 1/4 to 1″ (0.63 to 2.54 cm) diameters. Computed from observation time temperature, humidty, and cloudiness, or may be a standard set of “10-Hr Fuel Sticks” that are weighed as part of the fire weather observation.
100-hr: 1 to 3″ (2.54 to 7.62 cm) diameter. Computed from 24 hour average boundary condition composed of day length, hours of rain, and daily temperature/humidity ranges.
1000-hr: 3 to 6″ (7.62 to 15.24 cm) diameter. Computed from a 7-day average boundary condition composed of day length, hours of rain, and daily temperature/humidity ranges.
10-HR Fuel Moisture
100-HR Fuel Moisture
1000-HR Fuel Moisture
Fuel moisture maps for conterminous US, 3 November 2000
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) is a soil/duff drought index that ranges from 0 (no drought) to 800 (extreme drought) and is based on a soil capacity of 8 inches of water. Factors in the index are maximum daily temperature, daily precipitation, antecedent precipitation, and annual precipitation. KBDI = 0 – 200: Soil moisture and large class fuel moistures are high and do not contribute much to fire intensity. Typical of spring dormant season following winter precipitation. KBDI = 200 – 400: Typical of late spring, early growing season. Lower litter and duff layers are drying and beginning to contribute to fire intensity. KBDI = 400 – 600: Typical of late summer, early fall. Lower litter and duff layers actively contribute to fire intensity and will burn actively. KBDI = 600 – 800: Often associated with more severe drought with increased wildfire occurrence. Intense, deep burning fires with significant downwind spotting can be expected. Live fuels can also be expected to burn actively at these levels.
For further information on the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) by Florida’s Division of Forestry / Forest Protection Bureau please refer to Keetch-Byram Drought Index Revisited: Prescribed Fire Applications.
Keetch-Byram Drought Index Maps for conterminous US, 3 November 2000
Operational Significant Event Imagery (OSEI) (3 November 2000)
The following significant events were identified by Satellite Analysis Branch meteorologists and reviewed by the OSEI support team:
NESDIS/OSEI NOAA-12 and 14 AVHRR HRPT satellite images, 2 November 2000
Heat signatures and smoke from fires burning in Idaho, Montana, and Washington states are
visible in this 2X zoom (1km resolution) NOAA-14 image. Some of these may be hotspots from the summer’s wildfires.
This is a 2x zoom (1 km resolution) of the 6,500 acre Shenandoah Complex fires burning in the
Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. Heat signatures from two
additional fires burning in the southern part of the state are also visible.
Shenandoah Fire Complex in Shenandoah National Park The Shenandoah Complex in Shenandoah National Park is currently the largest fire and is burning about five miles southeast of Luray, Virginia. This complex of fires has caused road closures and precautionary evacuations for residences in Page and Madison counties.
Burning out was completed on the 5 November 2000, however, night shift will be patrolling the area, and line construction and burnout operations will continue on 6 November 2000. Overview: Cooler temperatures and higher humidities allowed firefighters to make good progress on the two fires. Containment lines were completed on the south side of the Old Rag Fire. Significant progress was made on the other critical portions of both fires where firefighters strengthened firelines by carefully burning away fuels inside the line. There was a Red Flag warning for higher winds for 5 November afternoon. The Shenandoah Complex is currently about 13,200 acres in the Central District of Shenandoah National Park. Containment: The fires are now 40% contained. Firefighters expect to have defensible fire lines all the way around the fires by 17 November 2000. Cause: Both fires are presumed to be human-caused, but are under investigation. Current Resources: 852 people are working on the fires. Resources in use include 24 20-person crews, 18 fire engines, 13 watertenders, 5 bulldozers, and 8 aircraft.
Left and Center: Maps of the southeastern part of the United States and Virginia state.
Right: Shenandoah Complex is located southeast of Luray, Virginia/Shenandoah National Park.
(Source: NP Shenandoah)
Left: A few large smoke plumes are visible in SeaWiFS view of eastern North America from 2 November 2000.
Center: SeaWIFS view of fire in the Shenanadoah National Park on 2 November 2000.
The SeaWIFS images were provided by the SeaWiFS Project, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, and ORBIMAGE.
Right: This is a 2x zoom (1 km resolution) of the fires burning in the Shenandoah National Park in
Virginia. The smoke plume extends from northern Virginia to the vicinity of the North Carolina border.
The satllite image was provided by OSEI on 1 November 2000)
For more details about this fire complex, please visit the Shenandoah Fire Information web site.
NIFC Wildland Fire Potential Assessment (5 October – 2 November 2000): ALASKA – Potential: Below normal. Temperatures have been below normal and precipitation has been above normal for the last four to six weeks. Nighttime temperatures are routinely falling below freezing in the Interior. The 1000 hour and live fuel moisture levels are normal for this time of year. Typical October fire occurrence is five fires for .1 acre. NORTHWEST Potential: Normal to above normal. Temperatures have been normal and precipitation has been below normal in the area for the past month. Live fuel moistures are below average in all areas and have been measured at 59% to 148% in Washington and 53% to 124% in Oregon. 1000-hour dead fuel moistures are also below average for this time of the year. Measurements range from 8% to 19% in Washington and 5% to 16 % in Oregon. The Energy Release Component (ERC) is showing well above average for southeastern Oregon, average for northwestern Washington and above average for the rest of the area. Palmer Drought Index (PDI) indicates extreme to severe drought conditions in eastern Washington and Oregon. The long-range weather forecast calls for average to above normal temperatures and below average precipitation for most of the area. CALIFORNIA – Potential: Normal to above normal. Temperatures and precipitation have been normal for Northern California. Live fuel moistures have reached their critical levels and are now mostly dormant. 1000-hour fuel moisture in most of the state is around 8% to 15%, which is slightly below average. PDI indicates normal conditions in the north except east of the Sierra range where severe drought conditions persist. Long range forecast calls for normal temperatures and slightly below normal precipitation for Northern California. NORTHERN ROCKIES – Potential: Above normal. Precipitation has been below normal in much of the area and temperatures have been above normal. Live fuel moistures are continuing to experience drought induced stress. Rainfall was received at the first of the month, but the area still lags behind in the year to date precipitation. The PDI indicates extreme and severe drought conditions continue to exist in most of Montana and Idaho. Long-range weather forecasts call for slightly above normal precipitation for southeast Montana and normal conditions for the rest of the area. GREAT BASIN – Potential: Normal. Temperatures have been above normal during the past month while precipitation has been below normal through the area. Live fuel moisture is ranging from 73% to 143% in Nevada and 30% to 120% in the Eastern Great Basin. 1000-hour fuel moisture is averaging 5% to 9% in Nevada and from 6% to 18% in the Eastern Great Basin. Due to precipitation early in the month, shorter days and increased nighttime relative humidity has moderated the fire danger. The PDI indicates that most of the region is still in severe and extreme drought conditions except for southern Nevada. Long-range weather predicts normal to above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. SOUTHWEST – Potential: Normal. Temperatures have been normal and precipitation has been normal to a little below normal in eastern New Mexico. PDI shows drought conditions continuing though recent precipitation has lessened the fire danger. The long-range outlook indicates above normal temperatures and slightly below normal precipitation. ROCKY MOUNTAIN – Potential: Normal to above normal. Temperatures were normal to above normal and precipitation was normal to below normal for the last four to six weeks. Live fuel samples are well below normal for much of the area in the conifer and oakbrush fuels due to lack of long duration precipitation. 1000-hour fuel moisture is around 6% to 10 % in the north-central portions of Wyoming and 11% to 15% in the rest of the area. The potential for short duration large fire occurrence remains high for the period. PDI indicates severe and moderate drought in most of the area. The long-range forecast calls for above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation for most of the area. EASTERN – Potential: Normal. Temperatures have been below normal in Indiana, Minnesota and the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Above normal temperatures were observed for the rest of the area. Precipitation has been above normal through much of the area for the last month. The 1000-hour fuels are currently ranging from 18% to 30% which is slightly below average for this time of year. The PDI indicates that most areas are near normal or wetter than normal. Potential still exists for large fire growth in the southern part of the area due to continuing drought conditions. Long-range climate forecasts call for normal temperatures except for the Great Lakes, which is predicted to be below normal. The Eastern Seaboard is predicted to have above normal precipitation this month and normal rainfall for the rest of the area. SOUTHERN – Potential: Normal to above normal. Temperatures have been below normal in Kentucky and Virginia and normal elsewhere. Precipitation has been below normal in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. The PDI shows large portions of Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama to be in severe to extreme drought conditions. The long-range outlook is calling for above normal temperatures and normal precipitation for the area.
Temperatures and precipitation reflect conditions over the past four to six weeks. The long-range forecast is for the next 30 days. Above and below normal is indicated above in the narrative, areas not mentioned fall in the climatological category which means there are equal chances of being below normal (33.3%), normal (33.3%) or above normal (33.3%)
Map describing the wildland fire potential, 5 October – 2 November 2000
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).
30 and 90-day temperature and precipitation forecast maps (October and October to December 2000)
(Source: National Weather Service)
GeoMAC Wildland Fire Support The GeoMAC (Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group) team has produced an internet based mapping application which allows firefighting coordination centers and incident command teams to access online maps of current fire locations and perimeters. Fire perimeter data is updated daily based upon input from incident intelligence sources, GPS data, IR imagery from fixed wing and satellite platforms. The fire maps also have relational databases in which the user can display information on individual fires such as name of the fire, current acreage and other fire status information. Additional data layers including fuel types, aircraft hazard maps, links to remote weather station data and other critical fire analysis information are currently being added to the GeoMAC application.
An example of GeoMAC Wildfire Information on forest fires in Idaho and Montana.
The right image shows a screen shot about the fire size at the Clear Creek Complex (see below), the biggest wildfire in Idaho.
Remarks on Prescribed Burning
Fire is an important natural tool for ecosystem management. It can reduce dense vegetation improving wildlife habitat and lessening the potential for large, wildfire disasters. Land managers are directed to prepare a prescribed fire/burn plan for every area of public land that can burn. Some areas require total suppression while others will benefit from a wildland fire. Those areas that will benefit from a fire can be treated by a prescribed fire.
Especially, for the moment, in the southern and southeastern regions of the United States prescribed fire activities will be carried out in the following weeks and months. In this case, fire signals on satellite images can be traced back to this kind of land management activities.
In the Prescribed Fire Position Paper of the Forest Protection Bureau by the Division of Forestry in Florida, prescribed fire activity is described as a land management application that is essential to the practice of forestry, management of wildlife, preservation of endangered plant and animal species, improvement of range conditions and reduction of wildfire damage in the wildland/urban interface areas. While there is general public and landowner concern with increased smoke, reduced air quality, and liability; the general public and landowners benefit significantly from the reduction of devastating wildfire, improved wildlife habitat and forage, preservation of endangered and threatened plant and animal species, and improved management of forest resources. The prospect of severe reductions in the utilization of this management tool is of major concern to Florida’s natural resource managers and conservationists due to the subsequent loss of derived public and private benefits. They suggest the need for legislative attention.