Saturday, July 24, 2010
What? More Fire Weather Already?
On Friday's Noon News the weatherman on Oakland's KTVU Channel 2 said we're in for a cooling trend starting early next week. In the happy-chat wrap-up segment, the Anchor Woman asked about the effect the cooling would have on the Fire Danger. WeatherDude said the danger is way below warning levels for July.
My curiosity piqued, I remembered Reno's Fire Weather Watch for Sunday, so I clicked on Reno's AFD, and voila:
UPDATE...A FIRE WEATHER WATCH FOR DRY LIGHTNING GUSTY OUTFLOW WINDS WAS ISSUED FOR PORTIONS OF EASTERN CALIFORNIA AND WESTERN NEVADA FOR
SUNDAY AFTERNOON. WITH THE EXTREMELY DRY AIR MASS IN PLACE AND MIDLEVEL MOISTURE ADVECTING IN FROM THE SOUTH...IT LOOKS LIKE CONDITIONS ARE PRIMED FOR DRY THUNDERSTORMS ON SUNDAY. MORE DETAILS WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE FIRE WEATHER DISCUSSION THIS
There's no substitute for being prepared to paraphrase the Boy Scout Motto, however the fuel moisture levels should still be low...closer to early June levels than the more explosive September/October tinderbox levels. I heard the KCRA3 weather woman mention thunderstorms, so I checked the Sacramento AFD. Typical over exuberance from Channel 3's junior meteo-team...to wit:
INSTABILITY INCREASES A LITTLE OVER THE AREA TODAY AS A WEAK VORT MOVES THROUGH. MID LEVEL MOISTURE MOVES INTO THE NORTHERN SIERRA THIS AFTERNOON COMBINED WITH THE INSTABILITY WILL PROBABLY SEE SOME CUMULUS BUILDUPS NEAR THE SIERRA CREST THIS AFTERNOON AND EVENING. HELD OFF THE MENTION OF THUNDERSTORMS FOR NOW BUT WILL LOOK AT 12Z INFO AND DECIDE IF WILL ADD THEM TO AFTERNOON
By the time I watched the 6 O'clock newscasts, there was wildfire news from SoCal. I heard a news tease citing a fire near Santa Clarita that could be threatening homes. I searched the net for some local intel, and there were a couple of fires actually...looking to me like arson, as they all broke out about the same time, in the same area...no lightning, no thunderstorms...just clear dry sky.
The KCRA3 News reported a morning grass fire somewhere in the Big Valley, but again it was human caused and controlled.
You may wonder why my intense interest in wildland fire. I live in what insurance underwriters call the "Urban/Wildland Interface", so I stay Fire Aware as a matter of habit. There have been some uncomfortable days, listening to the fire traffic on my police scanner, when I knew the incident to be nearby. Once, when things were happening near my end of town, I called the TV Station to correct some erroneous information they were broadcasting...Their On-Screen Map had a local wildfire burning right through the middle of Truckee...when in reality it was four or better miles west of downtown, and three+ miles west of the DaveCave!
There is a groomer/firefighter connection, too.
Over my career, I've worked with dozens of Wildland Firefighters. They're naturals as groomers go. They are used to long hours, handle high stress levels with aplomb, they baby their equipment, and they need a winter job every year! Another plus is they're usually pretty easy going, too.
The top photo is of a Thunderhead, taken from the International Space Station, during Expedition 15 (April 2007-October 2007)