august 2017 regional wildfire forecasts

Regional Wildfire Forecasts: July – August 2017

According to the National Interagency Fire Center, June 2017 saw record-setting heat events throughout the western United States, while the southeastern wildfire season diminished due to precipitation. The southwestern wildfire season (through Arizona and New Mexico) is expected to end with rains at the end of July, which is typical. However, Southern California will continue to experience wildfire events due to heat and critically dry fuel. The following regional wildfire forecasts for late July and August 2017 are based on predictions and research from the National Interagency Fire Center.

july 2017 regional wildfire forecasts

august 2017 regional wildfire forecasts

Alaska: Throughout August, fuel dryness and wildfire potential is high in the Upper Yukon Valley and other parts of northern Alaska. Likelihood of wildfires is lower for the second half of the summer than the first half throughout the state. Late-August rains are expected to end fire season.

Northwest: The remainder of July will see typical rainfall and temperatures. Conditions warmer and drier than average will likely occur in August, but significant large wildfire potential will remain normal. Fire potential will start to decline at the end of August.

Northern California + Hawaii: Above average wildfire potential is expected in the San Francisco Bay area, the mountains surrounding the San Joaquin Valley and the western side of Hawaii’s Big Island. Wildfire potential is below normal in the Northern Sierras due to above average precipitation in the spring, and wildfire potential is normal for the east side of the region through August.

Southern California: In July and August, fire potential is higher than expected in the higher elevations of the Sierras and above normal fire potential is expected in the foothills and inner valley areas. Everywhere else has average expected wildfire potential. The high wildfire potentials are due to extended heat waves in June, which may cause critical dryness to be reached by the end of July.

Northern Rockies: Central-eastern Montana and western North Dakota experienced little rain in June, resulting in drought conditions and above average wildfire potential through August. Normal potential is expected in the rest of the region. The entire region will likely experience above average temperatures into September.

Great Basin: Before July, the region experienced weather extremes, with temperature being ± 20 degrees compared to the historical average. The high elevations of Wyoming and Idaho will see below normal wildfire potentials through August, while the lower elevations of Utah and Nevada will see above normal fire potential.

Southwest: Northern Arizona and the Four Corners region is expected to see above average wildfire potential until August, when significant wildfire potential will go back to normal. The rest of the region will see normal wildfire potential through July and August. The summer monsoon season is expected to start on time according to historical data.

Rocky Mountain: After above average June temperatures and precipitation deficits, above normal fire potential will develop through August in western Colorado and parts of North and South Dakota. Normal wildfire potential is expected in the rest of the region, except the mountains of Wyoming, which have lower than normal wildfire potential.

Eastern Area: Normal fire potential is expected in this region through August. Above normal precipitation occurred over the beginning of the summer and will continue through the end of the summer.

Southern Area: Below normal wildfire potential is expected in the majority of the region through August due to high humidity and elevated fuel moisture levels.

 

For more information on wildfire outlooks and regional wildfire forecasts, visit NICC Predictive Services.

 

whittier fire smoke

Whittier Fire Prompts Evacuations in Santa Barbara County

Whittier Fire Summary

The Whittier Fire is suspected to have been sparked by an emergency vehicle accident around 1:30 pm Saturday afternoon and quickly spread to vegetation in the middle of the weekend’s red flag warning conditions. Officials stated that temperatures were over 110 degrees at the origin of the fire and within 2 hours the fire had spread to both sides of Highway 154 forcing the closure of the highway and evacuation of area camp grounds. Early on, Whittier Camp was evacuated and it was learned that the nearby Circle V Camp had dozens of children present. That camp was immediately threatened with no transportation for a safe evacuation as their escape route was cut off by the growing fire. In a press briefing today (7/14), several emergency responders shared the harrowing details of the evacuation of the Circle V Camp. The story describes how one Forest Service patrol and one dozer amazingly made it to the 80 camp counselors and children. The heroes assured them that they were safe while helping coordinate their evacuation to safety. A video was also released showing a sheriff’s deputy forced into turning around due to fire activity up the road. A timeline of the events can also be seen here.

whittier fire progression map

Whittier Fire Progression between July 8th and 14th. Now over 13,000 acres.

Whittier Fire Outlook

As you can see from the Santa Ynez Peak webcam below, fire activity has increased significantly today with the return of high pressure. The system is set to bring increased fire activity through Sunday. As the fire has grown this afternoon, the IMT is particularly worried about forecasted gusts of 25-30 mph through passes and gaps in the vicinity of the fire. As a contingency plan, ranch roads, dozer lines, and hand lines have been built and improved upon over the last couple operational periods. The idea here is to create large buffers between Goleta-area homes and the fire area due to the potential for the currently ongoing sundowner winds. Nonetheless, additional Evacuations have been ordered in the last three hours. Reports have significant activity occurring on both east and west sides of the fire, and especially to the south as the fire is headed in three different directions. The fire is actually approaching last year’s Sherpa Fire burn scar near Goleta.

Whittier Fire Evacuations

  • All of Winchester Canyon Road excluding the community of Wagon Wheel, Langlo Ranch Road and Winchester Commons west to El Capitan Ranch Road.
  • Calle Real north to West Camino Cielo from Winchester Canyon Rd on the east to El Capitan Ranch Road on the west.
  • Paradise Road
  • Rosario Park and all of Stagecoach Road
  • Farren Road and Las Varas Canyon Road
Santa Ynez Peak Cam

View looking West from Santa Ynez Peak Cam Friday Afternoon (July 14th)

Whittier Fire Facts

  • As of: July 14th, 2017
  • Location: Lake Cuchuma, Santa Barbara County, CA
  • Size: 13,199 acres
  • Containment: 52%
  • Fire Behavior: Rapid fire spread through thick brush and timber in steep, rugged terrain.
  • Structures Threatened: 1500 (reported)
  • Structures Destroyed: Eight homes and 12 outbuildings have been destroyed
  • Evacuations: Are in still in place
  • Incident Page: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5339/
  • News Article: KEYT Santa Barbara

Sources: Inciweb, KEYT, Los Padres National Forest, http://www.rntl.net/santabarbaracountyfirecams.htm

RFW in Santa Barbara

Weekend Red Flag Conditions for Santa Barbara County

Santa Barbara area expecting Sundowner Winds with Red Flag

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag Warning for the Santa Barbara County Mountains and South Coast region for Thursday from 0900 hours through Saturday 1000 hours PDT. The area will see sundowner winds gusting up to 40 mph and relative humidity as low as 10%. These conditions, combined with temperatures reaching into the mid 90’s in the afternoons and 100’s in isolated locations, may contribute to explosive fire behavior. The regions most at risk are the foothills and through the passes and canyons.

A sundowner wind is an offshore northerly Foehn wind that occurs near Santa Barbara, California. The winds surface when a ridge of high pressure is directly north of the area, and they blow with greatest force when the pressure gradient is perpendicular to the axis of the Santa Ynez Mountains which rise directly behind Santa Barbara. These winds often precede Santa Ana events by a day or two, as it is normal for high-pressure areas to migrate east, causing the pressure gradients to shift to the northeast.

 

Red Flag in Santa Barbara

Red Flag warning area of Santa Barbara County

Significant Santa Barbara Sundowner Events

Sundowner winds are dried and heated by the warm inland valleys and deserts. As narrow canyons and valleys compress the winds, they become stronger and overpower the diurnal winds. Firefighting efforts during a sundowner wind event can become extremely dangerous as well as difficult. Three significant fires in the last three decades have resulted in part because of sundowner conditions.

  1. The Jesusita fire in May 2009 burned 8,733 acres and destroyed 80 homes while damaging 15 more. Most of the destruction occurred while sundowner winds pushed the main fire through populated areas.
  2. The Painted Cave Fire during June 1990 rapidly grew to 5,000 acres, destroying 427 buildings and killing 1 civilian.
  3. The Sherpa Fire grew to 4,000 acres overnight due to the sundowner winds, damaging the water system for El Capitán State Beach in the middle of June of last fire season.
three major red flag sundowner fires

Three significant Sundowner fires in Santa Barbara County

 


Sources: Wikipedia, NIFC Fire history, LA Times, KEYT Santa Barbara

Brian Head 4-day Fire Progression

‘Extreme’ Brian Head Fire Destroys 13 Homes

Brian Head Fire Summary

The Brian Head fire started around noon on Saturday, June 17th along State Road 143, north of the Utah resort town of Brian Head. RedZone first learned of the fire at 50 acres with evacuations reported on the north and northeast ends of town. Multiple pictures surfaced that afternoon as the fire grew to 500 acres and dangerously close to town, eventually prompting an expanded evacuation of the entire town around 3pm. A type 3 team assumed command of the fire Saturday evening and gave way to the Great Basin Type 2 Incident Management Team 4 (Roide) at 6 AM, Monday, June 19. Roide’s team has had command ever since. Due to the evacuation situation, remote location, and lack of radio traffic, the extent of Saturday and Sunday’s fire growth wasn’t known until the first official perimeter came out Monday morning. That perimeter, shown in yellow in the map below, first put the fire at 957 acres, having also burned four homes in north Brian Head during those first 36 hours.

Brian Head 4-day Fire Progression

Brian Head Fire Progression Map (Operational Periods of 6/19 to 6/22)

As strong high pressure moved into the area early in the week, the fire picked up steam on the north side and ran north and east growing quickly through dense timber. The Brian Head fire nearly tripled in size each day starting Monday recording roughly 2700 acres Tuesday, 10,000+ acres Wednesday, and over 27,000 acres this morning (6/23). During yesterday’s 17,000-acre run, more structures were lost and much of the Panguitch Lake area along the eastern portion of SR 143 was added to the growing mandatory evacuation list. Prevailing winds were pushing the fire north and east until late in the afternoon on Wednesday when winds shifted the fire in a new, southeasterly direction. Clear Creek and Horse Valley were impacted and nine additional residences and six outbuildings were lost. This brings the total number of structures lost to 13 residences and eight outbuildings.

Brian Head Fire IR Map

Thursday Morning’s IR Map from the Brian Head Fire


Brian Head Fire Outlook

Containment is still only 5% with red flag conditions continuing again today and is forecast again tomorrow. Fire officials are projected 2-3 miles of more growth to the southeast and northward down SR 143. Weather concerns are abundant as dry conditions are forecast to continue through Sunday with ongoing well above normal temperatures, low RH, and very unstable atmospheric conditions. There are 11 helicopters, 34 engines, and 23 crews for a total of 809 firefighters on scene. Full containment is not expected until July 5th.


Brian Head Fire Facts

  • As of: June 23rd, 2017
  • Location: Brian Head, UT
  • Size: 27,744 acres
  • Containment: 5%
  • Fire Behavior: Extreme fire spread with spotting and dangerous rate.
  • Structures Threatened: Yes
  • Structures Destroyed: 13 residences and eight outbuildings
  • Evacuations: All of Brian Head, UT. Horse Valley, Clear Creek, Beaver Dam, Blue Springs, Panguitch Lake Campgrounds, Mammoth Springs Campground, Rainbow Meadows, and Mammoth Creek.
  • Incident Page: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/5253/
  • News Article: Desert News Utah

Sources: Inciweb, Desert News Utah, Utah Fire Info, NIFC


 

Aerial photo over Kynsna area (Source: South African Red Cross)

Wildfires Rage Across South Africa’s Cape After Massive Winter Storm

Hundreds are left homeless and thousands remain evacuated after the strongest winter storm in decades assaulted Cape Town, South Africa, and continued across the southern region of South Africa known as the Western Cape. Numerous lightning strikes associated with the massive storm ignited wildfires that raged across hillsides, fueled by gusting and strong winds, even as nearby areas began to flood and were drenched by rain. Tuesday evening, June 6th, the storm began to impact the Western Cape. By Wednesday, thousands of residents along the major roadway N2, famously known as the “Garden Route”, were evacuated as wildfires blazed toward nearby neighborhoods. As of June 8th, 4pm PDT, nine deaths are attributed to the storm, home collapses, and wildfires.

Storm Impact & Wildfires in Area around Cape Town and Knysna (Source: Google Earth)

Storm & Wildfire Impacted Area around Cape Town and Knysna (Source: Google Earth)

Current Situation

The local media is referring to this as the “mother of all storms”. A compounding factor to the devastating impact to the region is the already poor housing covering much of the area. Shanty towns burn quickly and can also collapse simply due to the strength of the winds. Flood waters also washed away several communities due to non-permanent construction. Part of the evacuation process included a local hospital in Knysna had to move all personnel and patients due to the approaching wildfires. The rain now falling on the Knysna area will assist firefighting efforts to get the wildfires under control; however, the additional rains will increase the possibilities for mudslides in the area.

Activity of Wildfires in last 48 hours, centered on Knysna (Source: Advanced Fire Information System Viewer – AFIS)

Wildfire activity in last 48 hours, centered on Knysna (Source: Advanced Fire Information System Viewer – AFIS)

Recovery & Outlook

So far, reports indicate more than 150 structures were destroyed throughout 20 suburbs. Cape Town, fortunately, has restored approximately 90% of its power. Across the impacted area, staff are opening shelters and resource centers to assist those displaced. The rains received may help with a fraction of the drought situation, but Level 3 water restrictions remain in place. Wetting rains over a longer duration are needed to truly have an impact. Local volunteers are collecting donations of items such as food, water, blankets, and other basic necessities for those affected by this disaster.

Aerial photo over Kynsna area of wildfires (Source: South African Red Cross)

Aerial photo over Kynsna area (Source: South African Red Cross)

Read further

Live update stream: http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/live-knysna-evacuation-underway-20170607

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-40199270

http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-news/powerful-winter-storm-kills-at-least-eight-in-cape-town/70001884

http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/08/world/south-africa-fires/

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/06/storm-kills-displaces-thousands-cape-town-170608052748704.html

2017 Hurricane Season

2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season Begins Today

Hurricane Season Begins

June 1 marks the official start of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Meteorologists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are predicting that this year’s hurricane season, which runs from June 1st through November 30th, may be more active. The current forecast models suggest an above-normal hurricane season with the potential for as many as 17 named storms. Of these 17 named storms, 2 to 4 could possibly develop into major category 3 or larger hurricanes capable of producing winds well above 111 mph.

In comparison, a normal storm season typically produces 12 named storms of which an average of 3 of which build in intensity and become classified as major hurricanes. In the video below, Dr. Gerry Bell, the lead Seasonal Hurricane Forecaster at NOAA provides a more detailed look at the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

Although the hurricane outlook is cause for some concern, the increased number of storms does not necessarily correlate with an increased frequency of landfall. There are too many variables to accurately forecast the amount of landfalls the US will experience in a given year. A particular storm season may produce a large number of storms but have few, if any, landfalls. In contrast, Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992, was birthed during a season that only recorded 6 named storms. This uncertainty necessitates that coastal residents be prepared regardless of outlook.

Hurricane Preparation

Proper disaster preparation saves lives and also helps recovery after an event impacts and area. Preparation should be done well in advance of hurricane season. There are many organizations and websites that provide valuable information regarding preparation for disasters: ready.gov, The National Weather Service, The National Hurricane Center and FEMA to name a few. The information provided by these websites generally recommends a version of the steps below.

  1. Determine your vulnerability

    When most people think about the dangers associated with hurricanes they think of the destruction caused by the high winds. In actuality, 9 out of 10 fatalities related to hurricanes are due to drowning. Just because your home isn’t on the coast doesn’t mean flooding isn’t a concern. Intense storms can cause flooding to extend hundreds of miles inland and also produce additional severe weather like tornadoes. Part of determining your vulnerability is to research whether you reside in a hurricane evacuation area.
    Maps of Evacuation Zones
    NOAA Coastal Services historical hurricane tracks tool

  1. Evacuation and communication planning

    If you reside in an area prone to hurricanes, it is important to heed evacuation notices and have a plan in place in case you need to retreat. The majority of evacuations are ordered because of the threat of storm surge. Storm surge is caused when water is pushed on shore by the high winds generated within a hurricane. Storm surge can devastate coastal communities and reach heights over 20 feet.

    If you are urged to evacuate, it is very important to have prepared ahead of time where to go and how to get there. If a severe storm approaches, emergency officials will provide updates on evacuation routes and shelters, but it is a smart idea to develop a household plan ahead of time. A household plan will insure that you are prepared in case you have to leave quickly and that the proper steps have been communicated to do so safely.

  2. Buy Supplies

    Arguably the most important step in creating a household evacuation plan is assembling the necessary supplies to get through the storm and its aftermath. These supplies should be gathered well in advance of storm season and packaged for quick retrieval, in an easily accessible area of the home. There are numerous resources online regarding preparation of a proper disaster supply kit, but the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes has compiled a pretty extensive list.
    Disaster Supply Checklist

  1. Check Insurance Coverage

    Homeowners and renters need to insure that they are properly covered in the event of severe weather impacting their homes and property. Standard home and renters insurance does not cover flooding, so it’s important to purchase any needed coverage well in advance of potential threats. Cars, boats and other personal property may also need additional coverage, and it is a best practice to contact your insurance company representative for more information on how to protect your property.

  2. Make copies of important documents

    It’s a good idea to make copies of important documents and include them in your disaster kit. Include in your kit any documents that can be used in the event that you need to prove ownership and/or insurance coverage of your home, vehicle, boat or other personal property that may have been damaged or moved from its current location due to high winds and flooding. The advent of cloud storage offers an additional way to back up and secure important documents and personal data. Placing electronic copies of important documents and other personal data like family photos, medical records or financial documents online, ensures that these items will be accessible once you are able to reconnect to the internet. There are numerous companies that provide low cost and even free cloud storage.

  3. Protect your home

    If a hurricane watch or warning has been issued for you home, it is possible to mitigate some of the potential damage. Covering windows and doors with plywood is a common site on homes in hurricane prone communities. This plywood can help protect against damaging winds and provide additional security for the home. Residents can also trim trees and secure potential wind-driven debris around their home.

Additional Resources and Blog Citations

Hurricane Preparedness Week

AccuWeather – 6 Ways to Prepare Now for Hurricanes

ready.gov

The National Weather Service

The National Hurricane Center

FEMA

Is Wildfire Modeling Behind the Times?

Wildfires are one of the most difficult natural disasters to model. Some argue wildfire modeling is 20 years behind hurricane modeling — and that’s not inaccurate. Hurricanes occur frequently, take several days to form and can be monitored via satellite. Hurricanes are also enormous and can be over 50 miles in radius. They are not obstructed by buildings and, while complex, are affected by fewer variables than wildfires.

Now, consider wildfires. A wildfire can start in seconds by a lightning strike or a dropped cigarette. Oftentimes, the source of ignition is concealed. A wildfire can smolder for days before significant smoke is reported and others can become destructive in a matter of minutes. A small burn — just a few acres — can destroy homes and other structures. Wildfires are affected by a myriad of factors from roads to fuel moisture and type to relative humidity. Sometimes, wildfires are so short-lived that these variables are not recorded; other times, a wildfire covers so many ecosystems that each area of the fire is impacted differently.

File:Propagation model wildfire.png

RedZone Improvements to Wildfire Modeling

Neither hurricane modeling nor wildfire modeling is an easy task. However, wildfires present so many distinct challenges that it’s difficult to even compare the two types of storms. But wildfire modeling isn’t inaccurate — and we’re making strides to make wildfire modeling more accurate than ever before.

Take the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado, for example. A simplistic wildfire model didn’t account for many of the devastating factors that ultimately destroyed properties. One of these factors was ember showers, which caused homes to burn that were outside of the assumed danger zone. RedZone’s solutions, developed by expert wildfire analysts, take into account these lesser-known variables that can have devastating effects on properties during a wildfire. RedZone wildfire modeling also takes several scenarios into account at the same time. For example, it asks: If the wildfire goes in direction A, how far will it go? If the wildfire goes in direction B, how far will it go? And so on. By taking into account the likelihood and severity of every possible scenario, and every variable that goes with each, we are reaching a new standard for wildfire modeling.

RedZone looks at wildfire modeling from a loss-prevention perspective. Therefore, while a model might be good, if homes are unnecessarily destroyed, the model isn’t good enough. We’re developing wildfire modeling so it’s a standard, scientifically peer-reviewed model, which will prevent the loss of structures, homes and land. This model is mutually beneficial for both homeowners and insurance companies — and insurance companies would likely see an obvious and significant ROI increase from adopting it.

The good news is that researchers around the world are working to develop this “holy grail” of wildfire modeling software. Between RedZone, researchers at the University of California at San Diego and other scientists, we expect that wildfire modeling will soon match the accuracy of hurricane modeling.

wildfire arson

16 Largest Arson Wildfires in the United States Have Destroyed Over 6500 Structures

Wildfire arson is the felony act of maliciously setting fire to wildlands or uncultivated land comprised of forest, brush or grassland, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Not only does wildfire arson destroy natural lands, but it devastates a significant number of buildings, homes and other property — in addition to taking lives of firefighters and residents.

Needless to say, wildfire arson is no small threat — six of the 20 most damaging wildfires in California (in terms of structures destroyed) were caused by arson. Georgia records an average of 700 arson fires destroying over 9,000 acres annually. And, over 240 wildfires were caused by arson in Florida between Jan. 1 and April 14, 2017 — up 70 percent from the year before.  

Of the 58 most destructive wildfires in U.S. history, 16 are confirmed arson fires — almost 28 percent. These devastating 16 fires destroyed almost 6,500 structures — homes, businesses, etc. They killed 50 people and burned nearly one million acres. Here are the most destructive confirmed arson fires (intentionally caused) in order of acres burned:

wildfire arson in the us

Rodeo-Chediski Fire, Arizona (2002): 467,000 acres, 426 structures

Old Fire, San Bernardino County, California (2003): 91,281 acres, 933 structures, 6 fatalities

Hayman Fire, Pike National Forest, Colorado (2002): 137,760 acres, 600 structures, 6 fatalities

Fountain Fire, California (1992): 63,960 acres, 636 structures

Sunnyside Turnoff Fire, Warm Springs, Oregon (2013): 50,000 acres

Panorama Fire, California (1980): 23,600 acres, 325 structures, 3 fatalities

Humboldt Fire, California (2008): 23,344 acres, 351 structures

Tompanga Fire, California (1993): 18,000 acres, 323 structures

Great Smoky Mountains Wildfires, Tennessee (2016): 17,904 acres, 2400 structures, 14 fatalities

Esperanza Fire, California (2006): 16,090 acres, 34 homes, five fatalities

Laguna Fire, California (1993): 14,437 acres, 441 structures

Paint Fire, California (1990): 4,900 acres, 641 structures, one fatality

Rattlesnake Fire, California (1953): 1,300 acres, 15 fatalities

Goshen Pass Brush Fire, Virginia (2017): 1,000 acres

Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri (2012): 622 acres

Rosa Fire, Riverside County, California (2007): 411 acres

 

Besides these cases of confirmed wildland arson, many other wildfires are still under investigation. Convicted arsonists face prison time, fines and even murder charges when lives are lost in the fire. No acts of arson are taken lightly — even a small-scale brush fire can take down homes and put lives in danger.

Not all human-caused wildfires are intentional. Between arson and careless mistakes, humans cause 84 percent of all wildfires throughout the United States and 44 percent of total area burned. In U.S. National Parks, 60 percent of fires are caused by humans, often from poorly extinguished campfires. Fire ecologist Jennifer Balch at University of Colorado – Boulder says that humans extend the U.S. wildfire season by three months.

National Arson Awareness Week 2017 is May 7-13. This year’s theme is “Prevent Wildfire Arson — Spread the Facts, Not the Fire.” Learn more about National Wildfire Awareness Week here.


 

Whether started by arson, lightning or human carelessness, wildfires quickly destroy both land and structures and put lives in danger. Understand the threat of wildfires for your properties with RZRisk.

Moreno Valley Fire

Opera Fire Scorches 1300 Acres in Southern California

Opera Fire

Southern California’s first large wildfire of the season kicked off on Sunday afternoon (4/30) near the town of Highgrove in Riverside County. The Opera Fire quickly grew to 30 acres before the first responding fire units arrived on scene. The dry, grassy fuels burned rapidly, driven by gusty afternoon winds. Soon after helicopters arrived to assist, drones were spotted in the area, forcing the helicopters to land. Unfortunately, the lack of support from aircraft allowed the fire to quickly grow to 300 acres.

By 7:00 PM PST, the fire was at 1200 acres and threatening 40 homes. 230 firefighters from 8 crews battled throughout the night, mitigated the structure threat, and gained 60% containment by early Monday morning. 75 firefighters from four crews finished the mop-up operations, and fortunately no flare-ups were reported. By 7:30 AM on Tuesday (5/2), the fire was mapped at 1,350 acres and listed as fully contained.

The cause of the fire is currently unknown and under investigation.

More to Come

Small fires broke out all across Southern California over the past weekend. This might be a precursor of what to expect for this coming fire season. The wet winter helped much of California recover from the years-long drought, but also led to a huge spring growth of fine fuels. As these fuels dry out in the summer heat, explosive fire behavior is possible.

 

Opera Fire

Opera Fire Quick Stats

Fire Facts and Resources

  • As of: May 2nd, 2017
  • Location: Highgrove, Riverside County, CA
  • Size: 1,350 acres
  • Containment: 100%
  • Firefighters: 230
  • Helicopters: 3
  • Bulldozers: 2
  • Fire Behavior: Rapid fire spread through light fuels.
  • Structures Threatened: 40 (reported)
  • Structures Destroyed: 0 (reported)
  • Incident Page: www.rvcfire.org
  • News Article: The Press-Enterprise
summer 2017 fire outlook

Regional Wildfire Forecasts: April – July 2017

This year has resulted in above-average wildland fires throughout the United States, with over two million acres burned since Jan. 1, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. In contrast wildfires burned only 289 thousand acres by this time last year. The acres burned between Jan. 1 and March 27, 2017 is over 10x the decade’s average, as illustrated in the chart below:

Acreage burned in U.S.

Acreage burned in wildfires between January 1 and March 17 of each year

Drought combined with warm and windy conditions throughout the southeast U.S. and Southern Plains (particularly Oklahoma, Kansas and Texas) facilitated the majority of these wildfires. The following wildfire forecasts, broken down by region, comes from research from the National Interagency Fire Center.

 

Alaska: The outlook for Alaskan wildfires is normal through July. While the state has experienced dry conditions, cold winter temperatures have maintained snowpack and prevented heightened wildfires. Alaska will likely experience above-average temperatures throughout. Western Alaska should expect to see low precipitation, while central/eastern Alaska will experience normal precipitation through July.

 

Northwest: Normal wildfire activity is expected for Washington and Oregon through July. Temperatures in the majority of the region were below average throughout the winter. Snow accumulation in Washington and western Oregon is higher than in 2015 and 2016.

 

Northern California + Hawaii: Most of Northern California and Hawaii can expect an average wildfire outlook. The Big Island of Hawaii may experience slightly above-average fire activity. The most eastern portions of Northern California will have below average wildfire activity due to record snowfall in the area. Both Northern California and Hawaii will have average precipitation through July.

 

summer 2017 wildfire forecasts

Southern California: The significant wildfire and temperate forecasts for most of Southern California is normal. The Sierra Foothills may experience higher than average wildfire potential, and the High Sierras may experience lower than average wildfire potential through July. Lower and middle elevations will have lower than average precipitation.

 

Northern Rockies: The region is forecasted to have average large fire potential. Yellowstone National Park will have a lower wildfire outlook. Average precipitation is also expected. Mountain snowpack in the region has maintained late into the spring, helping to reduce wildfire risk.

 

Great Basin: Following increased precipitation through the winter, the Great Basin Region can expect normal wildfire outlook through July. Wildfires could be caused by an increased grass crop in the lower elevations, which may extend into higher elevations than normal. Temperatures through July will likely be above average, and precipitation will stay near average.

 

Southwest: The region is forecasted to have above average wildfire potential through July. The greatest fire potential is expected to travel northwest (from southwestern Texas to northwest of the Continental Divide) through June. The monsoon season is expected to begin either early or on-time during July.

 

Rocky Mountain: Normal wildfire potential is expected in the lower- and mid-elevations of the Rocky Mountains. Lower than average wildfire potential is expected in the high elevations due to a significant snowpack (except in the Black Hills of South Dakota). The entire region will experience average precipitation during the period. The south and west will experience above average temperatures, while the north and east will experience normal temperatures.

 

Northeast + Mideast: Average significant wildfires are forecasted for the eastern U.S. through July. The southern and coastal areas will experience above-average temperatures, while the inland areas will experience normal temperatures. The Great Lakes region will likely experience more precipitation than average, while the Mid-Atlantic region will experience less.

 

South / Southeast: The extreme wildfire events in Florida are expected to ease with the onset of the June rainy season. The region’s coastal areas will experience above normal significant fire potential. The more inland areas will experience a below-average large fire outlook. Besides South Florida, which has potential to have significant precipitation, the summer months will bring warmer and drier than average conditions are forecasted throughout the region.