HIGH TEMPERATURES, DRY CONDITIONS MAKE FIRE SEASON 2000
THE WORST IN 50 YEARS
August 8, 2000 A ridge of high
pressure, parked stubbornly over 11 Western states, is giving
NOAA's National Weather Service
forecastersand weary firefighterslittle hope
that the dry, hot conditions, and parade of dry lightning storms
will end soon. So far, these conditions have created a tinderbox-like
environment, resulting in nearly 64,000 wildland fires, which
have torched more than 4 million acres this year. The latest
six-10 day forecast calls for continued high temperatures, low
relative humidity and little, or no precipitation. (Click
image for larger view.)
The total suppression costs submitted so far for only half of the ongoing wildland fires is running more than $50 million and wildland management agencies fear the current fire season could be the worst in 50 years. If the current activity continues, suppression costs could approach or exceed $1 billion for the year.
As of August 8, the National Weather Service had 21 Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) on site or en-route to assist other federal agencies with an increasing number of wild fires. NOAA's National Weather Service has assigned these special weather forecasters to work with land management agencies and firefighters to battle against blazes in several states. So far this year, the National Weather Service has dispatched IMETS to work the equivalent of 550 days on wildfires. (Click image for larger view.) [NOAA satellite image of wildfires on Aug. 8, 2000.]
THE EXTREME WEATHER AND NEW FIRES
Firefighters and resources throughout the West are being stressed, according to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. Fire weather watches have been posted throughout the Northwest and Great Basin areas. Eight new large fires were reported in the Northern Rockies, Rocky Mountains, Eastern Great Basin, Southern California and Southern areas since Sunday.
Sixty-six wildfires in 11 states are classified as large wildfires and involve 866,012 acres as of August 8. (Click here for the Wildland Fire Update.)
Total Fires: 66
Total Acres: 866,012
As of August 8, nearly 64,000 fires have burned more than 4 million acres this year. This compares to the 10-year averages of 84,657 wildland fires and 2,236,951 acres annually. (Click here for latest geographic map.)
Updated (08/08/00 )
84,657 = number of wildfires
2,236,951 = number of acres)
NOAA METEOROLOGISTS ARE KEY TO FIREFIGHTERS SAFETY
Fire fighters know that adverse weather
is one of the most dangerous hazards their crews face. That's
why NOAA National Weather Service meteorologists are seen as
a vital partner in keeping firefighters safe as the crews attempt
to contain or suppress wildfires that rage across the United
States each year. (Click image for larger view.)
The meteorologists are having a busy season issuing forecasts from their offices, providing briefings in interagency coordination centers, and site-specific forecasts at several of the fires.
Most offices in the NWS' Western region (Arizona, California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington) are directly or indirectly involved in fire support along with others in Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico. The meteorologists issue site-specific, timely forecasts of weather conditions.
The forecast offices are able
to provide assistance to the agency's special cadre of
The IMETs are specially trained in mesoscale and microscale meteorology and employ a variety of special tools to prepare the forecasts that contribute to the safety of all personnel involved in management of the fires.
Since 1914, National Weather Service forecasters have worked closely with fire control specialists from a variety of federal agencies tasked with suppressing fires. The IMETs use laptop computers to access information from local forecast offices and use other special equipment in preparing critical information for wildfire suppression. The main tool used by IMETs is the 250-pound Advanced Technology Meteorological Unit (ATMU), which enables forecasters to operate at the fire command centers and provide close meteorological support to suppression efforts.
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