Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wildfires: After Three Years Of Steady Declines The Current Season Will Rank As One Of The Worst On Record

We looked at this year's fire season a couple times, links below.
Up until the last couple weeks the big news had been the 5.1 million acres burned in Alaska this spring and early summer, far and away the most acreage affected up there in recent decades since the 2004 record, 6.6 million acres.

Since July the situation has changed with 2 million acres burned in the lower 48 states but no fires currently burning in Alaska.
To put that in perspective, here's the intro to our March look at the fire season:
The incidence and size of U.S. wildfires has fallen dramatically over the last three years, facts I've not seen rigorously examined either by academics or journalists. Considering the encroachment of the human population on what had been wilderness and the ridiculous resistance to prophylactic burns this table is quite amazing...

...Further, even the 2006 and 2010 seasons pale compared to the bad years.
The 1910 fire season resulted in 1736 fires in Idaho and western Montana alone which burned more than 3 million acres. Nationwide, over 5 million acres burned.

A single fire, Wisconsin's Great Peshtigo Fire of 1871 burned 1.5 million acres and killed between 1200 and 2500 people.
Because it started on the same night as the Great Chicago Fire, which killed 250, it was relegated to the history books....
And from the National Interagency Wildfire Center:

as of August 13, 2015 at 5:30 am. MDT (on a scale from 1 to 5)
August 18, 2015
Nearly 30,000 wildland firefighters and support personnel are battling wildfires in 10 states. Yesterday, 16 new large fires were reported, most of them in Idaho and Montana. The year-to-date acres burned is now about 7.1 million acres. This is the earliest the number of national acres burned has been more than 7 million in the past 20 years. About 72 percent of the current year-to-date acres burned are from the large fires in Alaska earlier this summer.

For the first time since 2006, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho is mobilizing active duty military personnel to serve as firefighters to assist with wildfire suppression efforts.
The National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) at NIFC requested the Department of Defense (DOD) to provide 200 active duty military personnel to assist with firefighting efforts. The DOD has approved the request and identified the 17th Field Artillery Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, Army located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) in Washington to provide the active duty military personnel. The Soldiers will be organized into ten crews of 20 persons each, all of which will be sent to the same wildfire, which is in the process of being identified. For more information about the military mobilization click here.
Four MAFFS C-130 Airtankers are assigned to McClellan Airfield in Sacramento, California in support of wildland fire operations. Two aircraft are provided by the 302nd Airlift Wing, Colorado Springs, Colorado. One aircraft is provided by the 153rd Airlift Wing, Cheyenne, Wyoming. One aircraft is provided by the 145th Airlift Wing, Charlotte, North Carolina.

Weather: A cold front sweeping across the Rockies will keep breezy to windy conditions across much of the Great Basin and parts of the northern and central Rockies. Isolated showers will develop over western and central Montana. Hot and dry conditions will continue over California and the desert Southwest. Scattered thunderstorms and heavy rain will form ahead of the Front across the northern Plains to the Great Lakes. Scattered afternoon thunderstorms will dot the eastern U.S....MORE
Year-to-date statistics
2015 (1/1/15 - 8/17/15) Fires: 40,998 Acres: 7,074,492
2014 (1/1/14 - 8/17/14) Fires: 36,829 Acres: 2,591,941
2013 (1/1/13 - 8/17/13) Fires: 31,394 Acres: 3,355,214
2012 (1/1/12 - 8/17/12) Fires: 44,392 Acres: 6,656,053
2011 (1/1/11 - 8/17/11) Fires: 49,068 Acres: 6,534,802
2010 (1/1/10 - 8/17/10) Fires: 43,689 Acres: 2,208,671
2009 (1/1/09 - 8/17/09) Fires: 62,422 Acres: 5,087,916
2008 (1/1/08 - 8/17/08) Fires: 61,741 Acres: 4,297,078
2007 (1/1/07 - 8/17/07) Fires: 61,959 Acres: 6,213,160
2006 (1/1/06 - 8/17/06) Fires: 76,701 Acres: 6,558,774
2005 (1/1/05 - 8/17/05) Fires: 42,838 Acres: 6,471,136
Annual average prior 10 years
2005-2014 Fires: 50,309 Acres: 4,908,497

September 2014

March 2015 

July 2015
Risk: Tornado Count Remains Below Average, Wildfire Burned Acreage Jumps