1998-1999 Florida Wildfire Season Forecast

1998-1999 Florida Wildfire Season Forecast

Updated 30 November 1998

published by the
Florida’s Forest Protection Bureau

The following report is taken from that website to facilitate easy access to this important information. Authorship and copyright are with Florida´s Forest Protection Bureau!

Conditions in the equatorial Pacific:

Sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific remain below normal, indicating a moderate La Niña event. La Niña, the cold phase of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), tends to bring warmer and drier than normal conditions to Florida. Current long-range forecasts from the National Center for Environmental Prediction indicate strong probabilities for warmer temperatures across the entire southern part of the country. Below normal precipitation is expected for all of Florida, particularly the southern portion of the peninsula. La Niña conditions are not expected to begin weakening until April.

Long-range outlook:

The above normal temperatures expected for the Dec-Jan-Feb period are not completely the result of the conditions in the equatorial Pacific. The current large scale pressure pattern across the country favors a pronounced east-west flow of the jet stream. This pattern does not favor the intrusion of arctic air masses into Florida, lessening the chances of a severe freeze (prolonged period of very low temperatures, severe damage to citrus crops). Past La Niñas, such as 1985 and 1989, have brought severe freezes to Florida. Due to the drier than normal conditions favored during La Niña, the nighttime temperatures can drop rapidly as the Earth’s surface cools. When combined with the intrusion of a polar air mass this enhanced radiative cooling sets the stage for a severe freeze event. While radiational cooling alone can produce a freeze, the most severe freezes in Florida are associated with the arrival of polar air masses. If the jet stream begins to show a more north-south component the possibility of a severe freeze will increase.

What we can expect for the upcoming fire season:

Dry conditions are expected to dominate throughout the state, particularly for the southern half of the peninsula. The above normal temperatures and reduced rainfall associated with La Niña indicate strong potential for an active wildfire season. The possible addition of freeze dried fuels may increase this potential in the later part of the season.

Now is the time for land managers to take advantage of every window presented to them to reduce their fuel loads. Wildfires that strike areas with increased fuel loads tend to create more damage to the resource due to the severity of the burn. It is a good idea to use fire whenever and wherever possible to prevent a wildfire from negatively affecting your land management program. A good fuels management program can save many years of hard work.

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These forecasts are produced quarterly. The next forecast will be made March 1, 1999. If conditions change unexpectedly prior to this date a forecast update will be issued.

Should there be any questions, please contact Scott Goodrick at ( +1) 850- 413-7172

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