Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fire Weather

It's kinda muggy in the Inland Valley today. I did errands all afternoon, and on my way home, I crested a hill that gave me an awesome view of Mt Diablo looming over the Inland Valley. Out past the big mountain, over the Central Valley, I could see building cumulus clouds typical of Summer afternoon thunderstorm buildup. Back at the Ancestral Digs, I logged on and looked at Reno's and Sacramento's AFDs. No mention of thunderstorms.

Many NWS Forecast Offices have a forecast product named "Fire Weather"

Fire Weather is a specialized forecast, tailored to Firefighting Planners and Wildland Fire Managers. This product delves a little deeper into Local Observations, reporting values like Fuel Moisture, Upslope and Downslope Winds, above and beyond the usual temps, rainfall, wind speed and direction. Fire Weather forecasts local winds, humidity, chances of Wetting Rain, and Lightning, for several times during the day.

During active Wildland Fire Season at the DaveCave and environs, I usually have my Police Scanner on 24/7. Every morning the Local Fire Stations broadcast their morning reports, and Grass Valley Dispatch reads the Fire Weather Forecast, so I know the Product is utilized by our Wildland Firefighters.

Beyond the Morning Reports, the scanner gets quite active during Fire Weather. Sure you hear all the Fire Dispatch Calls, but when there's active weather locally, you hear the Fire Lookouts calling in Smokes, and Grass Valley calling the Fire Lookouts for help confirming Smokes or Fires reported by the Cell Phone wielding Public. This can be very compelling listening, especially in late Summer and Fall!

At the risk of making another Seasonal Prediction, I've been wondering just what effect our lingering wet regime will have on Fire Season. It all depends on whether Summer gets hot, and the Heat Spell lasts. There's a video of the 150 days of 2010 Pacific Ocean Sea Surface Temps posted on Anthony Watts' Site that shows the ocean cooling that could herald the change of the guard Sea Surface Temperature-wise. El Niño seems to be turning into La Niña at breakneck speed. I wonder what the likelihood of a Long, Hot Summer is, given the likely La Niña...on top of the PDO in it's cooling phase?

With all the cool conditions extending the grass growing season, you can expect some nice fat deer this season. Should there be a Hot Indian Summer (not likely), and a Dry Fall (more likely, thank you La Niña!) we could see some Severe Fire Conditions. Still, four to six months out...conjecture is conjecture.

We'll have a better idea in four or five months. That's a Prediction I can make...without reservations.

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