Time-lapse video of the Apple Fire

Apple Fire convection column pyrocumulus
Screenshot from the time-lapse video of the convection column on the Apple Fire, shot by Leroy Leggitt.

This video compresses 20 minutes of high intensity wildfire behavior on the Apple Fire into 20 seconds. It was recorded at 4:18 p.m. PDT August 1, 2020 by V. Leroy Leggitt. You can see several areas of condensation at the top of the smoke column as it becomes a pyrocumulus cloud.

The Apple Fire started July 31, 2020 near Cherry Valley, California and is spreading north of Beaumont and Banning. As of August 3, 2020 it has burned over 26,000 acres.

If you are having trouble watching the video, you can see it on YouTube.

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

Wildfire potential to increase in the Northwest in August and September

Wildfire potential is expected to be above normal this Fall in the Southeast

wildfire potential August

The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook issued August 1 by the Predictive Services section at the National Interagency Fire Center for August through November predicts that the northwestern states will have above normal potential through September. In October and November that distinction shifts to California and the southeast.

The data from NIFC shown here represents the cumulative forecasts of the ten Geographic Area Predictive Services Units and the National Predictive Services Unit.

Below:

  • An excerpt from the NIFC narrative report for the next several months;
  • More of NIFC’s monthly graphical outlooks;
  • NOAA’s three-month temperature and precipitation forecasts;
  • Drought Monitor;
  • Keetch-Byram Drought Index.

“August represents the peak of fire season for the West and Above Normal significant fire potential is expected across much of the Great Basin, northern California, Pacific Northwest, and northern Rockies. The North American Monsoon is forecast to remain intermittent, which will provide chances of lightning without moisture surges extending into portions of the Great Basin, California, Pacific Northwest, and northern Rockies. Given the dry fuels, any lightning will likely result in increased fire activity and above normal significant large fire potential into September.

“As precipitation and cooler temperatures arrive in fall, areas of concern will shift southward to portions of California as offshore wind events become more likely. Without a robust monsoon and potentially delayed fall precipitation, fuels will remain very dry across much of California. With ENSO-neutral to potentially La Niña conditions, an increase of frequency of offshore wind events are possible. Additionally, drier than normal conditions are likely across much of the Southern Area given current long-term weather and climatological trends. However, an active hurricane season is a source of uncertainty.”


wildfire potential September

wildfire potential October
(Note: the text says the October graphic above was issued July 1, 2020, but it is different from the one for October that was actually issued on that date. This appears to be a typo, and probably was issued August 1. We are checking with NIFC.)

wildfire potential November

Outlook temperature precipitation
Outlook for temperature and precipitation in September, October, and November. Prepared July 16, 2020. NOAA.
Drought Monitor July 28, 2020
Drought Monitor July 28, 2020

 

Apple Fire in southern California grows to nearly 25,000 acres

Evacuations are still in effect

August 3, 2020 | 11:31 a.m. PDT

3-d map of the Apple Fire
3-D map of the Apple Fire, showing the perimeter (in red) at 7:45 p.m. PDT August 2, 2020, Looking north. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

The Apple fire burned actively Sunday, primarily to the north and east. Much of the fire activity is being driven by the record low moisture content of the vegetation in the area combined with high temperatures and low relative humidity. These conditions are contributing to active fire behavior both day and night.

The fire started July 31 near Cherry Valley, California and is spreading north of Beaumont and Banning.

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

A mapping flight Sunday evening at 7:45 determined that the fire had burned 24,830 acres, an increase of about 10,000 acres in 24 hours. At about 11 a.m. the incident management team announced it had grown to 26,450 acres.

Sunday night and early Monday morning the fire was very active. Multiple spot fires ignited on the north side which were attacked  by a night-vision equipped helicopter. Two of the spot fires were caught but one grew significantly and will be assessed.

The Apple fire is burning in an area with no recent fire history. It is expected to burn into less dense fuels as it progresses. Firefighters on the ground and in the air  are building fireline directly on the fire’s edge where possible and are protecting structures in local communities. The extremely steep slopes and elevations up to 11,000 feet make this a challenging assignment for firefighters.

Map of the Apple Fire
Map of the Apple Fire, showing the perimeter (in red) at 7:45 p.m. PDT August 2, 2020, The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before.

Evacuation information for Riverside County residents is available at the county website where residents can enter an address to see if they are in an evacuation area.

In San Bernardino County, the community of Oak Glen is under an evacuation order. Forest Falls, Pioneer Town, and Rim Rock are all under an evacuation warning.

Apple Fire
Apple Fire, San Bernardino NF, August 2, 2020. Screenshot from ABC7 video.

The weather forecast for Monday calls for more of the same conditions that have led to rapid growth of the fire — 91 to 96 degrees, 15 to 20 percent relative humidity, and ridgetop winds out of the west at 20 mph.

It is difficult for meteorologists to create a forecast for a fire like this. It is on very steep topography that ranges from 3,400 feet at Cherry Valley to 11,503 feet at the top of Mount San Gorgonio.

Apple Fire
A steep slope at high elevation on the Apple Fire, San Bernardino NF, August 2, 2020. Screenshot from ABC7 video.

Wildfire smoke forecast for August 3, 2020

August 2, 2020 | 4:38 p.m. PDT

Wildfire smoke forecast August 3, 2020
Near-surface wildfire smoke forecast for 4 a.m. PDT August 3, 2020. NOAA HRRR-Smoke.

Smoke from southern California’s 20,000-acre Apple Fire is predicted to move north overnight Sunday. Monday morning it is expected to affect areas in areas of Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Idaho.

The map above created by NOAA is for near-surface smoke which can affect humans more than vertically integrated smoke higher in the atmosphere.

NOAA predicts that a new fire in north-central Oregon, the Fir Mountain Road Fire seven miles south-southeast of Hood River, will produce smoke that will move into eastern Oregon, southeast Washington, and eastern Idaho. The fire started Saturday night, and Sunday morning was estimated at 70 acres. It seems surprising that it could be generating such a large quantity of smoke, however it is burning in slash piles from recent logging, as well as adjacent standing timber.

Fir Mountain Road Fire
Fir Mountain Road Fire. Oregon Department of Forestry photo August 2, 2020.

One hour of aerial video of the Apple Fire in southern California

From ABC7

August 2, 2020 | 3:52 p.m. PDT

Apple Fire BAe-146 air tanker
Air Tanker 15, a BAe-146, drops on the Apple Fire August 2, 2020. Screenshot from ABC7 video.

A television station in Los Angeles, ABC 7, has occasionally been live-streaming video shot from a helicopter over the Apple Fire. The station has posted on YouTube 68 minutes of video that was shot today, August 2. I did not have the time to watch all of it, but I jumped around sampling different segments and found it to be fascinating. The video is below, and I have included a few screenshots.

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

I am not sure (and someone correct me if I’m wrong) but I think in the photo below, the highest point on the left, the white barren area, is Mount San Gorgonio, the highest peak in Southern California and the Transverse Ranges at 11,503 feet.

Apple Fire
Apple Fire, San Bernardino National Forest, August 2, 2020. Screenshot from ABC7 video.
Apple Fire DC-10
Air Tanker 914, a DC-10, drops on the Apple Fire August 2, 2020. Screenshot from ABC7 video.
Apple Fire
Apple Fire, San Bernardino National Forest, August 2, 2020; looking west across the San Gorgonio River. Screenshot from ABC7 video.
Apple Fire
Air Tanker 137, a B-737, drops on the Apple Fire August 2, 2020. Screenshot from ABC7 video.

The Apple Fire is generating large quantities of smoke

Areas predicted to be affected Sunday include southeast California, northern Arizona, southern Utah, and parts of Colorado and New Mexico

August 2, 2020 | 9:30 a.m. PDT

Map smoke Apple Fire forecast
Forecast by NOAA for the distribution of smoke created by the Apple Fire in southern California at 2 p.m. PDT August 2, 2020.

The Apple Fire north of Beaumont and Banning in southern California has been burning vigorously and creating a very large amount of smoke since it started at 5 p.m. July 31. The map above is a prediction by NOAA for the distribution of wildfire smoke at 2 p.m. PDT today, August 2. It predicts that areas significantly affected will include southeast California, northern Arizona, southern Utah, and parts of Colorado and New Mexico.

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

The size of the Apple Fire is uncertain because the north side of the fire could not be completely mapped at 8:30 p.m. Saturday by the fixed wing aircraft due to the very large convection column of smoke and heat over the fire. But the crew was able to map 15,000 acres of the blaze.

Map smoke Apple Fire
Satellite photo by GOES-17 of smoke created by the Apple Fire in southern California at 7 a.m. PDT August 2, 2020. NASA.