Wildfire potential June through September

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

If it is accurate it looks like firefighters could be busy at times in Arizona, California, and Nevada, but not so much in the rest of the Western U.S.

Below are:

  • the highlights of their report;
  • NIFC’s graphical outlooks for June through September;
  • the Drought Monitor, and;
  • NOAA’s long range temperature and precipitation forecasts.

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“Florida and Georgia experienced slight relief during the latter half of May as moderately wet systems produced widespread precipitation in both states. Activity across the southwest including Southern California began to increase toward month’s end as the region began to enter its core fire season. Nationally, the acres burned were above average at the end of May largely due to the fire activity that occurred in early March across the southern Great Plains where more than a million acres burned. The number of fires may be a more reflective number this year and remains below average for 2017.

Above normal precipitation and soil moisture is leading to a robust green-up across the West. Overall cooler than average temperatures and a heavy snowpack have led to slower than normal melting of the mountain snowpack in nearly all locations across the West. This should lead to a delayed start to the fire season in the higher elevations which may, in turn lead to a compressed season.

Above normal large fire potential will continue across southeastern Georgia and Florida into mid-June before the cumulative effects of precipitation events begin to take hold. Below Normal potential is expected across most of the remainder of the southeast through July before returning to Normal for August and September. Recent dry conditions across the southwest will lead to Above Normal potential across southeastern Arizona and Southern California. Below Normal to Normal large fire potential is also expected in the a majority of the higher elevations across the West in June and July.

July and August may be periods of concern. Above Normal potential is expected across the western portion of the Great Basin and across the middle elevations in California in July and August after the abundant grass crop cures. Fire activity will be mostly driven by short term weather events. Looking north, Alaska appears to be transitioning into a normal fire season for June and July with late summer rains ending the season across the interior in August. Extended dry conditions on the west side of the big island in Hawaii will lead to Above Normal potential that should last into September.”

wildfire potential July 2017

wildfire potential August September 2017

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Wildfire potential, May through August, 2017

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

Below are the highlights of their report, NIFC’s graphical outlooks for May through August, the Drought Monitor, and NOAA’s temperature and precipitation forecasts.

Florida and southeastern Georgia continue to experience significant fire activity as warmer and drier than normal conditions persist. Worsening drought conditions in these areas continue to lead to increased fire activity and behavior. Recent precipitation events have not been significant or frequent enough to provide relief. The existing conditions and activity are expected to peak by early June before beginning to show improvement and subside as tropical patterns develop bringing beneficial precipitation.

Wildfire activity across the Southern Plains has begun to wane as the seasonal shift westward begins. Greenup has begun to take hold and precipitation events have become more common across the Central and Northern Plains.

Arizona and western New Mexico will see an increase in fire activity in May and June as the region enters the heart of its fire season. Heavy growth of fine fuels across southern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico have led to above normal fire potential along the Mexican border that should persist through June before the monsoonal rains arrive in early July and decrease activity.

As the fire season progresses into July, there are concerns with the seasonal shift west and north into California, and Great Basin. Exceptional winter and early spring precipitation is leading to the development of a substantial crop of fine fuels in the lower and middle elevations. The heavy loading of fine fuels could become problematic when they cure out in July. In the higher elevations, the mountain snowpack continues to melt at a normal to slower than normal rate. This should produce a delay in the onset of significant fire activity in the high elevations.

In Alaska, the south central portion of the state continues to be abnormally dry. While overall normal fire potential is forecast, bursts of more significant fire activity are possible across the interior portion of the state.

By mid-late July, the western fire season will begin to progress north into the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies. While a normal transition into fire season is expected in the lower elevations, a delayed entrance is possible in the higher elevations as both regions enter their fire seasons having seen abundant winter and spring precipitation and snowpack accumulation.

wildfire potential june 2017 wildfire potential july august 2017 Precipitation Temperature outlook map

Wildfire potential, April through July

wildfire potentialOn April 1 the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center issued their Wildland Fire Potential Outlook for April through July. The data represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

Below are the highlights of their report. Following that are NIFC’s graphical outlooks for May through July and NOAA’s temperature and precipitation forecasts.

We also have the NOAA/USDA Drought Monitor which, in the history of our monthly reports, shows no extreme or exceptional drought in California for the first time in years.

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“Florida and portions of Georgia, South Carolina, Texas and New Mexico continue to experience significant fire activity as warmer and drier-than-normal conditions persist. These conditions will persist as the fire activity peaks across the Southern Plains by May and across Florida through coastal Carolina by early June. Periodic, event-driven pre-green up grassfire activity continues across the central and northern plains and in the lower elevations of the West. This is normal activity and will continue to occur until full green up takes hold. Developing drought conditions across Central Texas and Oklahoma could elevate fire potential in May.

Western New Mexico and Arizona will begin to see an increase in significant fire activity in May before the monsoon begins to develop in late June and begins to curtail activity. As the fire season progresses into June and July, there are concerns with the seasonal shift west into California and north into the central Rockies and Great Basin. Exceptional winter and early spring precipitation will lead to the development of a substantial crop of fine fuels in the lower and middle elevations.

The heavy loading of fine fuels could become problematic when they cure out by July. In the higher elevations, the mountain snowpack is expected to melt at a normal to slower than normal rate due to the abundance of high elevation snow and the occurrence of an overall cool and wet spring. This could produce a delay in the onset of significant fire activity in the high elevations.

In Alaska, the south central portion of the state continues to be abnormally dry which has resulted in a winter snowpack that is below normal.

By mid-late July, the western fire season will begin to progress north into the Pacific Northwest and Northern Rockies. While a normal transition into fire season is expected in the lower elevations, a delayed entrance is possible in the higher elevations.”

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wildfire potential

wildfire potential

Continue reading “Wildfire potential, April through July”

Wildfire potential, March through June

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

Below are the highlights of their report. Following that are NIFC’s graphical outlooks for April through June, NOAA’s temperature and precipitation forecasts, and the NOAA/USDA Drought Monitor.

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“A typical transition of fire season activity is expected this spring beginning with the southern tier of the country. Fire activity will increase across portions of the southern plains and along the Atlantic Coast from the Carolinas south through Florida where the heavy loading of dry fuels coupled with warmer and drier than normal conditions is expected to create a potential for above normal fire activity. The increase in fire activity will be most noticed during high wind and low humidity weather events brought on by the seasonal transition from winter to spring. Other locations across the nation will see an increase in pre-green up fire activity as well, but this is not unusual. Southeastern Georgia and Florida may show a more significant increase in fire activity due to the emergence of long term drought conditions. Wetter than normal conditions across the Lower Mississippi River and Tennessee River Valleys are expected to lead to below normal fire potential during March. Look for the areas with below normal potential to be scaled back to mainly Tennessee and Kentucky from April onward as precipitation amounts received decrease to normal levels.

“Entering the latter periods of the outlook, Florida and Southeastern Georgia will remain in an elevated state for fire potential as drought lingers. The Southwestern and Alaskan fire seasons will begin in May as is typical. While normal fire season activity is expected across a majority of both regions, there are areas within both regions where an elevated potential for fire activity exists. Areas along and east of the Continental Divide in New Mexico have been and are expected to experience warmer and drier than normal conditions. In Alaska, the south central portion of the state has been abnormally dry which has resulted in a winter snowpack that is below normal. Given expected warm and dry conditions in May and June, an above normal potential for fire activity is expected to exist. Below normal fire potential is expected across the Central Rockies and the Sierra Mountains along the California-Nevada State line where the abundant winter snowpack should translate to a later than normal melt-off which could delay the start of the western fire season in the higher elevations.”

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wildfire potential April 2017 wildfire potential May June 2017

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Use an app to send precipitation observations to the NWS

Many areas where wildland firefighters are working do not have great coverage from weather radar because of the distance from the transmitter or steep terrain blocking the signals. You can help the National Weather Service produce better forecasts by using an app on your phone that can let them know what is happening at your location.

The message below from the National Weather Service in Rapid City uses local examples, but the principles are relevant in other areas:

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Want to be a citizen scientist and help us determine what type of precipitation (snow, rain, sleet, hail, etc.) is falling?

Download the mPING app and use it to report various precipitation types as they occur. This data is incredibly helpful, especially because the terrain in SD and WY impacts radar coverage (can make it difficult to know what is happening at the surface far from the radar location in New Underwood, SD). Determining precipitation type can be rather tricky without observations at the surface. This is especially true when the temperature is just right that some places receive rain, while others get snow. That’s where the power of mPING comes in handy!

All reports are anonymous – only the location (latitude/longitude), time, and precipitation type are recorded.

The app can be downloaded on Android and iOS devices. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or check out the mPING FAQ. We appreciate your willingness to help!

Links to the app here: http://mping.nssl.noaa.gov/

mPING FAQ: http://mping.nssl.noaa.gov/faq.php

Atmospheric river brings extreme wind and precipitation to northern California

Atmospheric river
Atmospheric river funnels moist tropical air into northern California.

The atmospheric river of moist tropical air being funneled into northern California continues to dump very large amounts of precipitation in areas suffering from five years of drought.

The rain began Wednesday, January 4 and is predicted to continue at least into Wednesday of this week. Some areas have received between 5 and 9 inches of precipitation since Friday.

Atmospheric river extreme precipitation
Storm total precipitation in selected northern California locations, 5 p.m. Friday 1/6 through 5 p.m. Sunday 1/8.

The National Weather Service office in Reno, Nevada reported that multiple wind sensors recorded gusts Sunday morning that exceeded 170 mph.

Atmospheric river extreme wind
Extreme winds gusting above 170 mph were reported by the National Weather Service office in Reno, Nevada, Sunday January 8, between 6:45 a.m. PST and noon. Posted by the NWS at about noon local time on Sunday.

Some areas in the Sierra Nevada mountains could see another 3 to 7 inches of precipitation between Monday and Wednesday. Flooding is being reported in many areas.

Atmospheric river extreme precipitation
Precipitation forecast for northern California Monday 1/9 through Wednesday 1/11.

National Park Service officials evacuated the valley in Yosemite National Park Friday except for essential personnel.

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