Rain off and on throughout the day on Wednesday accompanied by 97 percent relative humidity slowed the spread of the Sawgrass Fire in South Florida nine miles northwest of Weston.
Friday evening the Florida Forest Service mapped the fire at 42,000 acres. An aircraft will fly it again Thursday morning to get an updated size.
The winds Wednesday on the fire were variable, but were mostly out of the west and northwest, contrary to the forecast which predicted east or northeast winds which would have pushed the smoke away from the densely populated areas on the east side of south Florida.
As you can see on the map, the satellite detected little or no heat on the south and west sides of the fire during the Wednesday afternoon overflight. Clouds in the area prevented any later heat data from the satellite. The fire has approached State Highway 27 and the high voltage power lines on the west side of the road. This could be a result of natural spread due to the west and northwest wind, or possibly combined with a firing operation by the ten firefighters and the Type 5 Incident Commander assigned to the incident.
A weather station 15 miles northeast of the fire recorded 0.05 inch of rain Wednesday, but a couple of stations to the southwest received two or more inches, indicating thunderstorms moving through the area. There is only a 15 percent chance of rain on Thursday, but precipitation is much more likely during each of the following seven days.
If the forecast turns out to be accurate, the demise of the Sawgrass Fire seems likely in the next few days.
(Originally published at 11:36 a.m. EDT June 25, 2019)
The Sawgrass Fire in the south Florida everglades required the closure of Interstate 75 for about 10 minutes Tuesday when smoke affected visibility on the highway. A light rain slowed the movement of the blaze and reduced the smoke, allowing the highway to reopen. As you can see in the map below, a satellite was still able to detect heat during a 2:36 a.m. overflight Wednesday.
Since the fire started from a lightning strike Sunday afternoon it has burned 33,500 acres of state-protected land as of Tuesday evening, according to the Florida Forest Service. The land in the area is managed by the South Florida Water Management District. (UPDATE at 2:05 p.m. EDT June 26, 2019: The Florida Forest Service has revised the estimated size to 41,500 acres.)
Four firefighters are assigned to the fire, led by a Type 5 Incident Commander.
The blaze is about one mile away from both Interstate 75 and State Highway 27. The objective is to keep the blaze within the 165,000-acre conservation area that is bordered by canals, said Scott Peterich, a spokesman with the Florida Forest Service’s Everglades District.
For the last couple of days the smoke has been moving to the northeast, somewhat sparing the community of Weston located 9 miles southeast of the fire. The forecast through Friday calls for east or northeast winds that will push the smoke away from the densely populated areas on the east side of south Florida. There is a 40 to 50 percent chance of rain Wednesday and Friday.
Check out the video of a drone flying through the fire: