Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index in SoCal this week, “Moderate”

Santa Ana Threat Index
The fire threat for four areas in southern California on October 24 and 25 is described as “Moderate”. This example is for the Los Angeles and Ventura areas, showing Threat Level, Wind Strength, and Fuel Moisture on Thursday October 24.

A wildland fire danger forecasting tool called the Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index (SAWTI) is categorizing the fire threat from the strong winds predicted for Thursday and Friday of this week in southern California as “Moderate”. This includes Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange County, Inland Empire, and San Diego. The Santa Barbara area is shown as “no rating” for this week. Most other tools for predicting fire danger would use a stronger adjective for the predicted conditions.

The SAWTI uses a predictive model that includes wind strength, dead fuel moisture, live fuel moisture, atmospheric moisture, and the greenness of annual grasses to create a daily threat assessment of the fuel conditions across Southern California. The output is then compared to climatological data and historical fire occurrence to establish the index rating. It does not assess conditions in the central or northern part of the state.

The SAWTI is a product of the US Forest Service and Predictive Services, according to the website dedicated to the tool. The site does not specify which of the numerous Predictive Services  and Forest Service offices are involved.

Red Flag Warnings
Red Flag Warnings, produced at 6:30 a.m. PDT October 23, 2019. Times are CDT.

For northern California the forecast on Thursday and Friday is for north to northeast winds of 15 to 30 mph gusting at 35 to 45 with humidity in the teens. For southern California: northeast winds of 20 to 40 gusting up to 65 with humidity in the single digits. These predicted numbers vary depending on the exact location.

(Red Flag Warnings can be modified throughout the day as NWS offices around the country update and revise their weather forecasts.)

Red Flag Warnings in the forecast for California

Red Flag Warnings in California
Red Flag Warnings. NWS. (Times are CDT)

Updated: 4:27 p.m. PDT October 22, 2019

Elevated wildfire danger is in the forecast for portions of northern and southern California on Wednesday, Thursday, and in southern California, into Friday. Most of the Fire Weather Watch areas have been upgraded to Red Flag Warnings.

The extreme fire danger in northern California will begin Thursday while the southern California areas will start on Friday.

North or northeast winds at 15 to 20 mph gusting at 30 to 40 with relative humidities in the teens are predicted for the areas identified on the map in northern California. The areas in the south should receive 25 to 35 mph winds out of the north or northeast gusting at 50 to 60 with single digit humidity.

This weekend could bring another period of dry and windy conditions.

(Red Flag Warnings can be modified throughout the day as NWS offices around the country update and revise their weather forecasts.)

Former firefighter has coached rugby players and pilots of firefighting drones

drone coach
Screenshot from the Boise State video below.

After 20 years on the frontline fighting wildfires across the nation, Boise State alumnus and men’s rugby coach Matt Dutton was ready for a change. In 2014, Dutton and his family moved to Boise and he took a job in training and development with the National Interagency Fire Center, recruiting and teaching firefighters to become drone pilots in the center’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS) program.

This article first appeared at Wildfire Today.

Firefighters quickly knock down Beaumont Fire near Redlands, California

Beaumont Fire

11:00 a.m. PDT October 21, 2019

Firefighters in southern California stopped the spread of the Beaumont Fire after it burned about 11 acres near Redlands and Loma Linda Monday morning (see map). It was reported between 8 and 9 a.m. at 26000 Beaumont Road at San Timoteo Canyon and was aggressively attacked from the ground and the air.

Conveniently, it was within range of the San Timoteo and Crestline cameras, part of the Alert Wildfire network of fire cameras. I grabbed some of the still images as they each appeared for about 20 seconds before being refreshed. Unfortunately the San Timoteo camera lens was not in pristine condition.

Beaumont Fire

Beaumont Fire

Beaumont Fire
Continue reading “Firefighters quickly knock down Beaumont Fire near Redlands, California”

Cow Creek fire slowed by snow

The fire is 8 miles east of Ridgway, Colorado

Cow Creek Fire map 3-D
3-D map of the Cow Creek fire showing (in red) the perimeter at 12:27 a.m. MDT October 19, 2019. The white line was the perimeter about 48 hours before. Looking east.

Two to three inches of snow Saturday night slowed the spread of the Cow Fire 27 miles southeast of Montrose, Colorado (see map). Firefighters said the heavy vegetation in the fire area is still extremely dry.

The fire has burned at least 785 acres, but that figure has not been updated since Saturday morning because the mapping flight Saturday night was scrubbed due to strong winds.

In spite of the cooler temperatures and precipitation, they expect creeping, smoldering, and single tree torching on Sunday with the humidity in the 20s and a 13 mph northwest wind. After overnight temperatures in the teens at Ridgway Sunday night the forecast for Monday is 47 degrees, partly sunny, 10-13 mph west wind, and the humidity dropping into the 30s.

(To see all articles on Wildfire Today about the Cow Creek Fire, including the most recent, click here.)

The Rocky Mountain Type 2 Incident Management Blue Team with Incident Commander Mike Haydon assumed command Saturday at 7 p.m. after transitioning with the local Type 3 team.

Cow Creek Fire
Cow Creek Fire posted October 18, 2019 before two to three inches of snow. Photo by Josh Oak.

Firefighters will be monitoring backing fire activity on the southwest side of the fire as it moves downhill towards Cow Creek. On the north and northeast sides crews are scouting for locations to build fireline where it would be most successful should the fire advance. Firefighters have completed a fire line on the east side.

Cow Creek Fire map
Map of the Cow Creek fire showing the perimeter at 12:27 a.m. MDT October 19, 2019.

Trailer for the documentary “Fire in Paradise” released

A story about the Camp Fire that destroyed the city of Paradise, California

Camp Fire satellite photo 10:45 am Nov. 8, 2018. Zeke Lunder
Camp Fire, as it began to burn into Paradise, Calif. LANDSAT 8 image at 10:45 a.m. PT, Nov. 8, 2018. Processed by Zeke Lunder, Deer Creek Resources, Chico, Calif.

Netflix has released a trailer for “Fire in Paradise”, a documentary about the Camp Fire that killed 85 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes after it started under a PG&E power line at about 6:30 a.m. on November 8, 2018. Pushed by strong winds, within hours the fire raged through Paradise, California becoming the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state’s history. The documentary includes firsthand footage of the fire and interviews with dispatchers, first responders and survivors.

The 39-minute film directed by Drea Cooper and Zackary Canepari will be available for streaming on Netflix November 1, a week before the one year anniversary of the disaster. It won the Audience Award for Best Short Film at the Hamptons International Film Festival.

In July the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection released “Into the Fire”, a 17-minute film about the Camp Fire. Other films about the fire include “The Deadliest Wildfire in California History” by Vice, “The Camp Fire Documentary” by Paradise-area film maker Golden Eagle Films, and “Inside the Megafire” by PBS.

“Rebuilding Paradise” directed by Ron Howard for National Geographic is still under development. It will follow the residents, first responders, and volunteers helping to rebuild the town over the course of a year.