Five of the most active wildfires in the South

Above: Three fires were generating the smoke detected by a satellite on November 27: Rock Mountain, Camp Branch, and Pinnacle Mountain Fires.

The wildfire activity in the southern states has slowed a bit over the last few days. The day before Thanksgiving there were about 4,100 personnel assigned to fires in the area. By Saturday that number had decreased to 3,400.

The smoke generated by fires that has plagued residents for weeks has also diminished considerably. Today’s satellite photo, above, only shows three fires that are creating enough smoke to be seen from hundreds of miles overhead. These are the Rock Mountain (Georgia and North Carolina), Camp Branch (North Carolina), and Pinnacle Mountain Fires (South Carolina).

Just five fires in the Southern Geographic Area reported size increases on Saturday — a major change from recent weeks.

Rock Mountain Fire

The Rock Mountain Fire in Georgia and North Carolina grew by 2,578 acres in the last 48 hours and now has covered 20,647 acres, which is considered huge in this part of the country. It has spread to within 4 miles of Otto, NC and 4 miles of Dillard, GA. The fire was mapped Saturday by Colorado’s MultiMission Aircraft. Firefighters reported active surface spread in hardwood leaf litter in all directions, aspects and elevations on Saturday. Where it was not impacted by suppression it spread for half a mile. About 130 structures are threatened.

Camp Branch Fire

The 1,483-acre Camp Branch Fire is 9 miles west of Franklin, NC, an increase of 120 acres over the previous report. About 113 personnel are assigned to this fire which currently threatens 140 structures. On Saturday firefighters successfully conducted burnout operations on the northwest and southeast sides.

Pinnacle Mountain Fire

The Pinnacle Mountain Fire in Table Rock State Park added 217 acres Saturday to bring the total up to 9,147 acres. It is in northwest South Carolina 9 miles south of Brevard, North Carolina. The incident management team reports that 255 personnel are assigned and 1,133 structures are threatened. A burnout operation on Saturday brought the perimeter to the containment lines on the west and north sides of the fire.

map Rock Mountain, Camp Branch, and Pinnacle Mountain Fires
Map showing the perimeters of the Rock Mountain, Camp Branch, and Pinnacle Mountain Fires.


Clear Creek Fire

The Clear Creek Fire is 7 miles northwest of Marion, NC. I has burned 2,986 acres, an increase of 363 acres. About 352 structures are reported to be threatened. The fire is staffed by 489 personnel.

Mount Pleasant Fire

The Mount Pleasant Fire, 9 miles west of Buena Vista, Virginia has blackened 11,200 acres, an increase of 200. High humidity Friday night aided suppression efforts, but that was followed by strong winds on Saturday. Area road and trail closures, including part of the Appalachian Trail, are in effect. The fire has burned across the Appalachian Trail between Road 507 and Cow Camp Gap. The increase in acreage was the result of a large burnout operation on Saturday.

For the latest articles at Wildfire Today about how smoke from the wildfires is affecting various locations in the South, check out the articles tagged “smoke”.

Firefighters battling two fires in central Virginia

Above: Smoke from the Eades Hollow and Mount Pleasant Fires can be seen in a satellite photo taken Wednesday afternoon, November 23, 2016.

(Originally published at 5:55 p.m. ET November 23, 2016)

Two wildfires in central Virginia were very active on Wednesday, creating smoke that drifted northeast toward Washington, DC.

The Mount Pleasant Fire has burned 4,400 acres since it started November 19 10 miles northwest of Amherst, Virginia on the George Washington and Jefferson National Forests within the Mount Pleasant National Scenic Area. Wednesday morning 122 personnel were assigned, plus engines, dozers, three aircraft, and other resources that are en route. On Tuesday the fire grew by 1,689 acres. A Type 3 Incident Management Team from the Montana Department of Natural Resources has assumed command of the fire.

Mt. Pleasant Fire
Mt. Pleasant Fire. InciWeb photo.

The Eades Hollow Fire 16 miles northeast of Amherst has blackened 922 acres, growing by 422 acres on Tuesday.

Continue reading “Firefighters battling two fires in central Virginia”

Wildfire smoke decreases in Southeastern U.S. on Sunday, increases on Monday

Above: Satellite photo from Sunday afternoon, November 20, showing plumes of smoke.  

The amount of smoke created by wildfires in the southeastern United States decreased on Sunday. In satellite photos from last week smoke could be seen that covered large portions of South Carolina, Georgia, and North Carolina. However as you can see in the photo below, the smoke increased on Monday.

The amount and location of the smoke varies depending on the wind direction and the fire activity. It is difficult to predict more than a day in advance the quantity and location of smoke.

wildfire smoke map
Satellite photo from November 21 showing wildfire smoke. NASA

Below are maps predicting air quality information and the location of smoke for today, November 21.

Continue reading “Wildfire smoke decreases in Southeastern U.S. on Sunday, increases on Monday”

Precipitation reduces wildfire smoke in the central U.S.

Above: Snow cover in the United States, November 18, 2016. The Weather Channel.

Precipitation in the northwest quarter of the United States this week has put even more of a damper on the occurrence of wildfires, the execution of prescribed fires, and agricultural burning.

After weeks of warm, dry weather the Black Hills finally received a little precipitation over the last 24 hours. I won’t know the exact amount at my house until the snow in the rain gauge melts, but there was an inch or two of the white stuff on the ground. Today is sunny with a high of 32 predicted, so maybe it will trickle through the tipping bucket this afternoon.

snow rain gauge
Snow captured by my rain gauge since Thursday afternoon. Photo at 11 a.m. MT November 18, 2016 by Bill Gabbert.

Small amounts of precipitation in southern Saskatchewan may be the reason smoke from that area is no longer immigrating into the United States, as you can see in the two maps below. The first one was the smoke forecast for November 15 and the one after that is for today, November 18.

wildfire smoke forecast
Prediction for the distribution of smoke from wildfires at 6 p.m. ET, November 15, 2016. Produced at 7 a.m. ET November 15.
wildfire smoke forecast
Forecast for wildfire smoke at 6 p.m. ET November 18, 2016, created at 1 a.m. ET November 18, 2016.

However, prescribed fires, wildfires, or agricultural burning in Louisiana, Arkansas, and eastern Texas are still producing large quantities of smoke that at times moves north into the midwest.

No rain is predicted until the middle of next week for the areas where wildfires are smoking out the residents in some areas of Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina.

24 hour precipitation
Accumulated precipitation estimated by radar over the 24 hours before 7:07 a.m. ET November 18, 2016.


North Carolina to receive the worst of the smoke on Friday

Above: Forecast for wildfire smoke at 6 p.m. ET November 18, 2016. Created at 1 a.m. ET November 18, 2016.

Most of the eastern one-third of the United States will be experiencing some degree of wildfire smoke on Friday. But by far the heaviest concentrations are being created by the wildfires in the South. The winds on Friday will cause the much of the smoke to pass through areas in western Tennessee, northern Georgia, and western North Carolina.

Forecast for wildfire smoke at 1 p.m. ET November 18, 2016, created at 6:30 a.m. ET November 18, 2016.
Forecast for wildfire smoke at 1 p.m. ET November 18, 2016, created at 6:30 a.m. ET November 18, 2016.

Continue reading “North Carolina to receive the worst of the smoke on Friday”

Wildfire smoke forecast for November 17, 2016

Above: In this satellite photo taken during the afternoon of November 16, smoke from wildfires is clearly visible in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

Smoke from wildfires in the South continues to drift across Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

When the Air Quality Index (AQI) is between 101 and 150 due to smoke (the brown color in the AirNow map below) persons with heart and lung disease, older adults, and children are at greater risk. If the AQI is 151 to 200 (red in the map below) according to AirNow everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

air quality index wildfire smoke


smoke forecast
Forecast for smoke from vegetation fires at 1 p.m. ET, November 17, 2016. In addition to the wildfires in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, it appears that smoke from agricultural burning and prescribed fires in Louisiana and Arkansas is having a significant effect on the air in those two states as well as the midwest. Created at 7 a.m. ET November 17. NOAA.

Many of our readers in the comments sections are asking about the smoke conditions in various locations. Keep in mind that the distribution of smoke is entirely dependant on the location of the fires and the wind direction. A large fire may affect areas in almost any direction if the wind blows it that way. For instance, it can be clear in Gatlinburg, TN one day and the next day it can be smoky.

It can be difficult to predict the impacts of smoke more than a day or two into the future. For one thing, exact wind direction and speed are hard to forecast accurately. And fire activity is even trickier to predict. New fires can break out, older ones can run out of fuel, and the effectiveness of firefighters can vary.

wind rose Atlanta
The “wind rose” for Atlanta, November, 2012. The bars point to the direction the wind was coming from. Western Regional Climate Center.

As you can see in the image above, at Atlanta the most common wind directions during November of 2012 were from the northwest and east, but other directions are also represented.

For the latest articles at Wildfire Today about how smoke from the wildfires is affecting various locations in the South, check out the articles tagged “smoke”.