Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lightning Fire By The Numbers

Monday Morning
I'm fighting a scratchy throat today, so I'm just takin' it easy...but I spent some time lazing about with the laptop, trying to find some info on a wildfire from 2001.

The 2010 Fire Season's first Sierra Wildfires happened just in time for the Local News to benefit from the story. With Congress nearing their August Recess, Lindsay Lohan off the streets of Tinseltown, and the Gulf Oil Gusher capped, there's room for some Fire Video to fill the void from those missing Soundbites.

Sunday night, KCRA3 TV covered the Sierra wildfires at the top of their newscast. No video, they used their weather map instead to illustrate the wide coverage of the Red Flag Warnings, with the radar and lightning strikes layered on top. Here in the Inland Valley, the Bay Area TV Stations covered the fires too. Covered as an adjunct to their weather segment, I suspect there wasn't any Fire Video available for broadcast yet.

On Monday's Noon Newscasts, the TV stations had the video to fluff up their coverage. It must be a slow news day or something, every NWS website, every Forest Service Fire Info website, and every Wildland Fire website I tried to visit was very slow to load...their servers must be getting hammered with traffic to cause such profound slowdowns. My local Newsweekly, the Sierra Sun was up and at 'em with their fire story, though. The paper had the numbers...63 lightning strikes regionally, 5 working fires, 6129 lightning strikes statewide! And that's just for Sunday!

I spent more than an hour online trying to find a Historical Wildfire Database where I could get the Big Picture Overview of the 2001 Gap Fire. This fire stays front and center in my Wildfire Worldview because I drive by it's remnants whenever I travel between the DaveCave and the Ancestral Digs.

I remember passing by the Gap Fire Helitack Base set up in Boreal's Parking Lot on my way to a remodeling job I did that summer up on Donner Summit. There was quite the assortment of choppers working out of the base, including some "oldies but goodies" that I built plastic models of as a kid but never actually saw in the flesh until then. I searched the web for was a Kaman HH-43 Huskie. It flew for the US Military from the late 50's until the 70's

Thanks to the miracle that is CableTV and the Internet, I watched the 6 O'Clock News on Oakland's KTVU, the Fox Affiliate, and the 6:30 Newscasts on Sacramento's NBC station KCRA3 and Reno's ABC Outlet KOLO Channel 8 Monday evening. They all had video of the firefighting ops, as well as expanded Fire Weather segments.

Our cool regime summer returned to the Inland Valley Monday, along with a serious Delta Breeze. Truckee's afternoon high temperature was 82F...Sacramento at 80F was 9F cooler than Sunday's high, and down in Fairfield, the Delta Breeze kept things cool at only 73F for their afternoon high.

Tuesday Morning
Still with the scratchy throat. No fever (thanks Mom) My curiosity is fine, so I perused the web for the latest fire intel...Reno's AFD has been quite active, they've upgraded the watch to a Red Flag Warning for Tuesday night. More winds and dry lightning, farther North than Monday's action.

Tuesday Afternoon
I've been laying about all day listening to the radio and trying to convince my mother that I don't have West Nile Virus Fever...I don't have a fever! The Congress is still in session back in DC, so I've been keeping an ear to the rail via my Political Twitter feed. The DISCLOSE Act failed to get the cloture vote by only three votes! DISCLOSE is another assault on our 1st Amendment Free Political Speech...another Protect the Incumbents Act. The Sierra Sun tweeted another Fire Story too: "86 lightning strikes in region start 5 fires Sunday, Monday"

These fires have begun to show up on InciWeb the Inter-agency clearing house of fire reports maintained by NIFC the National Inter-agency Fire Center.

There's two fires down south now, the Potato Fire near Bridgeport, and the new one, the Mono Fire in the Inyo NF, 5 miles southeast of Lee Vining near Hwy 395 and Hwy 120

To the North, another new one, the Modoc Lightning Complex is many lightning fires 20 miles southwest of Alturas.

Time for the 6 O'Clock News...hey, I'm startin' to feel like myself again.

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