Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Near 2 Million Acres on Fire in the United States

This map (10am EDT on Aug. 20, 2018) comes from NOAA and is an experimental model showing both upper level or near-surface smoke. This particular iteration of the map is showing the near-surface smoke (expressed in μg/m3) from the HRRR-Smoke Model. (Credit: NOAA) Click to Enlarge.
The West Coast of the United States is shrouded in smoke from the 110 large fires (this does not include smaller fires within each complex of fires) that have erupted across the region during this fire season.

Over 1.9 million acres are or have been ablaze.  Six new large fires were reported in Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon over the weekend and eight large fires have been contained including the Ferguson Fire near Yosemite National Park in California.

The weather concerns in the area include warmer than average temperatures that will continue in the west with diurnal winds and marginal overnight humidity recoveries.  Isolated storms will be possible along and west of the Continental Divide in Montana and Wyoming.  These storms could also bring more lightning strikes and more blazes to the area with increasingly dry conditions.  A breezy easterly flow will blow across the western half of Montana and possibly northern Idaho that could possibly allow fires to spread farther.  With the center of the high pressure area located mostly over southern California, the normal wind flow will be suppressed and the rain that might come to this area will be contained mainly in areas near the Mexican Border certainly not helping firefighting efforts.  Further north, low pressure will bring cooler temperatures and possibly isolated storms to the Pacific Northwest.

National Preparedness Level is at the highest level of 5.  This level includes national mobilization heavily committed to fighting active fires and taking measure to support these geographic areas that are on fire.  Taking emergency measures to sustain incident operations on active fires.  Providing ongoing full commitment of national resources.  Filling resource orders at the National Interagency Coordination Center by coordinating requests with Geographic Area Coordination Centers as resources become available.  Recognizing that the potential for emerging significant wildland fires is high and expected to remain high in multiple geographic areas.

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