The lack of precipitation this fall, along with a prolonged period of warm, dry, and occasional windy weather has caused fuels to be extremely dry across portions of Southern and Central California.
Welcome to what may become the new normal — for a Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory to be issued for an area in the Western United States hours before New Years Eve. The Predictive Services office in the Southern California Geographic Coordination Center issued one on Friday for the following areas:
Central Coast Interio
Eastern Mountain, and,
A similar Advisory that was issued two weeks ago reached its expiration date so it was reupped for another 14 days.
Three areas have issued Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisories that are currently in effect. The advisories are valid for 14 days from the date of issuance.
The documents do not indicate which person, group, or office came up with the information. One of them has the “Predictive Services” logo, but there are many such offices with multiple employees. The others provide no clue how, where, or by whom they originated.
It has been our position that a technical document that relies on scientific data and expertise gained through years of experience, and which recommends specific action be taken, should be signed. Someone needs to have their name(s) attached. Was it put together by an intern, or someone with 35 years of experience? Be brave and convince us that we should take the advice to take action seriously.
The Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center has issued a Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory for the central and southern areas of California due to a heavier than usual grass crop brought on by above average winter rains. Because of the vegetation and climate in Southern California it seems like we hear similar warnings often — heavy rains bring lots of flashy grass fuels, and a dry winter results in low fuel moistures. An average winter can mean typical fire potential, which in this area can still mean large devastating wildfires. But as we often say, the most important factor that affects the number of acres burned is the weather during the fire season.
Below is an excerpt from the Advisory. Following that is the entire document.
“Due to the heavy winter rains, a significant grass crop has developed across much of California in the recent months. These light, flashy fuels have now cured across most of the southern and central portions of the state, which has led to a significant increase in fire activity across much of the Southern California Geographic Area. Despite the volatility of these grass fires, the heavier fuels are less supportive of fire as moisture levels in the larger diameter materials is near normal for this time of year. In addition, live fuel moisture remains above average in many areas. Therefore, while significant acreage consumption will continue to occur on future fires within the grassy fuel beds, large fires among the heavier fuels are less likely.”
Thanks and a tip of the hat go out to Ken. Typos or errors, report them HERE.
One of the Predictive Services offices, it is unclear which one, distributed this advisory. Our opinion is that when someone provides technical advice, or suggests that others take action or modify their behavior, they should be accountable.
Fuels and Fire Behavior Advisory
Southern Appalachian Mountains
October 7-21, 2016
Subject: Increasing Fire Danger in area of Hurricane Matthew subsidence
Discussion: An area of exceptional drought with Energy Release Component values above the 90th percentile currently exists over an area covering a large portion of the Southern Area. With the passage of Hurricane Matthew along the east coast relative humidity values are forecast to drop into the teens over this area. There will also be a high likelihood of gusty winds, especially along the western face of the Appalachian Mountains.
Difference from normal conditions: The area of subsidence associated with Hurricane Matthew will exacerbate the already dry environment and move ERC values over a large area above the 97th percentile over the next 10 days.
Concerns to Firefighters and the Public: Any fire in this area will be very resistant to control efforts. Expect complete consumption of fuels down to mineral soil or rock, frequent torching, and increased spotting. Fire intensities will be higher than normal which will likely preclude direct attack of fires. Expect the need for extended mop-up. Expect an increase in long duration fires; with heavy fuels being available to burn and leaves coming off of trees expect a higher than normal probability of re-burn on contained fires.
Mitigation Measures: Do not expect any fire to be routine. Be prepared to utilize indirect tactics with extended mop-up. Utilize aerial supervision to help direct crews and keep them informed on fire behavior. Ensure that LCES is in place before engaging on any fire. Remember to STOP, THINK and TALK before you ACT…actively look for ways to minimize risk to firefighters in what is forecast to be a period of very high fire danger.
Area of Concern: Alabama, Mississippi, Central and north Georgia, Tennessee and the mountain areas of Western South Carolina and North Carolina.