Florida Wildfires Provide Big Start to 2017 Fire Season

Florida wildfires have already produced unprecedented statistics for the 2017 wildfire season. Spring is wildfire season for the region, but the acreage burned to date has far exceeded the past decade’s averages. Wildfires throughout the Southern Plains in early March made up much of the acreage when more than a million acres collectively burned. So far, almost 2.2 million acres have burned according to data from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC). In the past ten years, the annual average by April 13th is over four times lower at 434,696 acres.

Southern Area Fire Outlook

In their April 1st Outlook Report, NIFC’s Predictive Services attributed the uptick in activity to warmer and drier than normal conditions in several southern states. Florida especially has taken the brunt of the action of late with drought conditions persisting in the height of their fire season. Since February, prolonged fire activity has scorched 70,000+ acres there this spring with 19 structures collectively lost. Currently, there are 31 active wildfires over 100 acres and more than 100 fires statewide.

Florida Wildfires Prompt State of Emergency

Due to major fires currently burning and the fire potential related to the ongoing and forecasted dry conditions, a state of emergency was initiated on Tuesday (April 11th) by Florida Governor Rick Scott. Also, several Central Florida counties have implemented burn bans to prevent future starts as humans have caused most of the activity impacting the state. The seven-day forecast currently shows no help in terms of rainfall relief for ongoing drought there. Florida’s outlook is bleak, as chances for wildfires will remain heightened with hotter temperatures and low rainfall typical for spring. Thus, the fire danger for Floridians may last until late spring or early summer when the air becomes more humid and afternoon thunderstorms return.

Florida Wildfires

April 13th Wildfire Activity Map from Florida Forest Service

Sources:

https://www.predictiveservices.nifc.gov/outlooks/monthly_seasonal_outlook.pdf

http://wlrn.org/post/severe-drought-developing-florida

https://www.nifc.gov/fireInfo/nfn.htm

https://weather.com/news/news/florida-wildfires-governor-impacts

 

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