U.S. and Australia loaning each other Incident Meteorologists

From KPQ News:

“An innovative and international approach to fighting wildfires is underway with specialty meteorologists lending their skills both in Washington and in Australia.

Incident Meteorologist
An Incident Meteorologist at a wildland fire. File photo from NOAA.

The program takes four specialty forecasters called Incident Meteorologists from the Spokane office and sends them to Australia for weeks at a time, lending skills to help firefighters tamp down wildfires as ferocious as we see across the West. Only 85 Incident Meteorlogist specalists exist in the entire United States. Meteorologist John Fox has just returned from a several week stint in Australia trading the latest wildfire-fighting forecasting skills with the Aussies. One of the Spokane incident meterologists is stationed in Adelaide Australia right now.”

Very strong winds predicted for Black Hills

Wind gusts up to 60 in the forecast

Weather forecast-Black Hills
Weather forecast for the Pactola Lake area of the central Black Hills in South Dakota, created at 1:30 p.m. MST, February 6, 2016. Click to enlarge.

The National Weather Forecast has issued a High Wind Warning for the Black Hills in Wyoming and South Dakota for this weekend. From 11 p.m. CST Saturday until 8 p.m. CST on Sunday forecasters expect northwest winds of 25 to 35 mph with gusts up to 60.

wind forecast 2-7-2016 black hills
Updated graphic forecast added at 8:20 a.m. MST, February 7, 2016.

In the Central Black Hills area near Pactola Lake, elevation 4,797, the temperature on Sunday will max out at about 33 degrees with a minimum humidity of 39 percent. The winds there on Sunday will be northwest from 28 to 38 mph with gusts from 40 to 53 mph.

At Rapid City, 3,600 feet, it will be warmer on Sunday — 37 degrees — with an RH of 37 percent and wind gusts up to 64 mph.

We can’t find a fire weather forecast, but have heard nothing about a Red Flag Warning.

Wildfire potential February through May

On February 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for February through May, 2016. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their forecasts are accurate it looks like mild fire potential until April and May when conditions could become more favorable to the spread of fires in the Midwest and south-central Alaska. Hawaii could become busy starting in February or March.

Here are the highlights from their outlook.

February

February wildfire potential

  • Below normal significant fire potential will persist across most of the Southeastern U.S., mid-Atlantic and Puerto Rico as El Nino storm systems continue to bring significant moisture to most of these areas.
  • Significant fire potential is normal across the remainder of the U.S., which indicates little significant fire potential.

March

March wildfire potential

  • Below normal significant fire potential will continue across most of the Southeastern U.S., mid-Atlantic and Puerto Rico as El Nino continues to bring significant moisture.
  • Above normal fire potential will also develop across the Hawaiian Islands thanks to long term drought.
  • Significant fire potential will remain normal across the remainder of the U.S., though potential for pre-greenup fire activity increases through early spring.

April and May

April May wildfire potential

 

  • Above normal significant fire potential will develop across the Great Lakes into the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys where less precipitation has occurred.
  • An area of above normal fire potential is also likely to develop across south central Alaska because warm temperatures and rain have limited snowpack.
  • Above normal fire potential will continue across the Hawaiian Islands as drought persists. Below normal significant fire potential will continue across most of the Southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico.
  • Significant fire potential continues normal across the remainder of the U.S.

In addition to NIFC’s outlook, here’s bonus #1: the Drought Monitor released January 28, 2016.

Drought Monitor 1-28-2016

Bonuses #2 and #3, 90-day temperature and precipitation outlooks:

 

90 day temperature outlook

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90 day precipitation outlook

Wildfire potential through March, 2016

On December 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for December, 2015 through March, 2016. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their forecasts are accurate, it looks like a continuation of pretty benign conditions across the United States this winter.

Here are the highlights from their outlook.

December
December wildfire 2015 Outlook

  • Significant fire potential is normal across the majority of the U.S.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential will persist across most of the Southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico.

January
January 2016 wildfire Outlook

  • Significant fire potential is normal across the majority of the U.S.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential will persist across most of the southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico.

February-March
February-March 2016 wildfire Outlook

  • An area of above normal significant fire potential will develop across the central interior portion of the eastern U.S. Above normal potential will also affect the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Below normal significant wildland fire potential will persist across most of the Southeastern U.S. and Puerto Rico.
  • Significant fire potential is normal across the majority of the U.S.

And as a bonus — the Drought Monitor:

Drought Monitor December 1, 2015

Drought Monitor Change

Bonus #2, Percent of Normal Precipitation:

Precip percent of normal California

Wildfire potential through February, 2016

The Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook through February, 2016. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

If their forecasts are accurate, it looks like pretty benign conditions across the United States this winter except for southern California in November.

Here are the highlights from their outlook.

November

wildfire potential

  • Significant fire potential has reduced to normal fall conditions across most of the U.S.
  • Above normal significant fire potential will continue across southern California due to continued drought. All areas of above normal potential should return to normal by the end of November.
  • A Large portion of the southern U.S. will see below normal significant fire potential. Typical fire activity should be less than usual across a majority of the eastern U.S. for the fall.
  • Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands will see below normal conditions as well.
  • Elsewhere normal fall conditions will prevail.

December

wildfire potential

  • No areas of above normal significant fire potential will remain in the U.S.
  • Portions of the Southeastern U.S., Hawaiian Islands and Puerto Rico will continue to see below normal potential.
  • Normal conditions are expected elsewhere.

January-February, 2016

wildfire potential

  • Portions of the Southeastern U.S, and Puerto Rico will continue to see below normal potential.
  • Normal conditions are expected elsewhere.

How much precipitation is needed to end the drought in western states?

precipitation end drought 3 months

The three-year drought in the western United States and especially in California became more obvious this year as wildfires were influenced by low moisture in live vegetation, and in some areas once-healthy trees began to show drought-induced stress.

The current El Niño is expected to influence weather patterns during the coming winter and forecasters predict higher than normal precipitation across the southern portions of the United States, including southern California.

The map above illustrates how much precipitation is needed over a three-month period to end or ameliorate the current drought. Most of northern California will need from 6 to 12 inches according to NOAA.

Drought Monitor 10-27-2015

 

NOAA’s disclaimer about the map at the top of the article:

This [map] only tells you how much precipitation a location needs to get the Palmer Hydrological Drought Index (PHDI) to a certain value based on the model’s equations. It does not tell you how much precipitation is needed to refill a reservoir, restore groundwater to normal, or bring an ecosystem back to normality. It also does not incorporate snowpack into its calculations, and mountain snowpack is a crucial part of hydrology in the U.S. West.