Wednesday, February 10, 2016

2015 Soda Fire ESR - more on Sagebrush Steppe Ecosystem and the Sage Grouse

As I continued to do my background reading and research on the 2015 Soda Fire post-fire recovery Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation I gained an appreciation for the sagebrush steppe ecosystem and at the same time frustrated because I felt, and still do, feel like there is a lot that I don't know about that ecosystem and the greater sage-grouse and other wildlife that live in and depend on the sagebrush steppe ecosystem. I wrote a little about the greater sage-grouse and their preferred habit in my November 27, 2015 article.

Somewhere, I don't quite remember where, in the course of my wonderings on the internet doing background research for my current series of articles on the 2015 Soda Fire ESR I found this link for a May 2015 episode of the PBS Nature series called the Sagebrush Sea (about an hour playing time). I learned a lot about the sage-grouse on their habit, and I thought that you would enjoy watching this episode.


Monday, February 08, 2016

Soda Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation - Upcoming posts

I first wrote about the 2015 Soda Fire post-fire recovery in a series of posts that ran from November 25, through December 4, 2015 (go here to read these posts where the latest post is on top). 

This Wednesday, February 10th, I am going to resume posting about the 2015 Soda Fire Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) in what I think will be five (possibly six posts). I am still working on the upcoming posts, but this is how I think it will shake out. I will revise this post as necessary after I post each article to link to each article in this series.

Friday February 12th: A very brief intro to ESR (part 1 of 2)
Monday February 15th: A very brief intro to ESR (part 2 of 2)
Wednesday February 17th: Interview with Idaho BLM (part 1 of 2)
Friday February 19th: Interview with Idaho BLM (part 2 of 2)
Monday February 22: Reflections

Friday, February 05, 2016

Powerline Fire, Big Bend National Park (TX)

Yes, it is winter here in much of the United States, and wildland fires are still happening, including but not necessarily limited to warmer parts of the country such as Texas. On February 1, a downed power line coupled with high winds lead to the Powerline Fire in Big Bend National Park in Southwest Texas near the Mexican border. No injuries have been reported and no park structures have burned.

I've seen two slightly different acreage and contaiment information on the Powerline Fire. The last update that I saw from Inciweb on the Powerline Fire (posted sometime on February 4th)  reports that the fire has burned 1,537 acres and is at 55 percent containment (what you see on Inciweb may differ depending on when the page is updated). The Big Bend National Park reports in a post on their Facebook page made about 12:30 PM EST today, that the fire had burned approximately 1,790 acres as of 5PM (local time?) on February 4th with approximately 75 percent containment. I wonder if the the figures reported by Big Bend National Park are the latest figures?

There is at least one type III helicopter with bucket working the fire, see this post by the Big Bend NP on their Facebook page (February 4th). See also this February 4th post by Bill Gabbert on Fire Aviation

Bill Gabbert wrote about the Powerline Fire in a February 2nd post (with updates, maps and photos).

There is a nice photo gallery of the fire on this Inciweb Powerline Fire page.

Selected media coverage:

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

About Ag Aviation from an Ag pilot based in Mississippi

Please take six minutes to watch this nice video from the Mississippi Farm Bureau where you will hear Ag Pilot, Karl Holcomb talk about agricultural aviation in Mississippi. While perhaps specific to Mississippi, agricultural aviation plays an important role in agricultural all over the United States and over seas. Enjoy.

Direct link to video

Monday, February 01, 2016

It is airborne snow survey season again

In November 2014 I was spending some time in southern California when a lake effect snow storm brought five to seven feet of snow to portions of the Buffallo New York region. It was through that lake effect snow storm that I first learned of the Airborne Snow Survey Program of NOAA’s National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC).

As I understand it, airborne snow surveys are done to measure the amount of water contained in a snow packTwo  aircraft are used, a Jet Prop Commander and a Rockwell Aero Commander (NOAA has two of these aircraft). 

According to the NOHRSC: 

The National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center (NOHRSC) has developed, and currently maintains, an operational Airborne Gamma Radiation Snow Survey Program to make airborne Snow Water Equivalent (SWE) and soil moisture measurements. Airborne SWE measurements are used by NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFO) and NWS River Forecast Centers (RFC) when issuing river and flood forecasts, water supply forecasts, and spring flood outlooks (obtained from on February 1, 2016)

I first wrote about NOAA’s airborne snow survey program on November 24, 2014 with a follow-up article on February 9, 2015

Perhaps because of the two feet of snow we had in my part of New Jersey on January 23rd, I found myself thinking about the 2015-2016 Airborne Snow Season Survey, so I decided to write this article. If you are interested in historical snow surveys, the NOHRSC has a landing page with links to information on prior year's snow surveys. 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Post-Wildfire Recovery from CAL FIRE

The work is not done when a wildfire is contained and under control. Indeed for many wildfires, the all important post-fire recovery phase may have already begun before the wildfire is declared contained. Elsewhere I have written about post-fire recovery and will continue to do so as I can. See for example these posts on the 2015 Soda Fire Post-Fire Recovery and these posts on the Rim Fire (the later post focus on post-fire recovery). I am in the process of doing some background work in anticipation of resuming posting on the 2015 Soda Fire Post-Fire Recovery efforts soon. I have a little more work to do on the Rim Fire Post-Fire Recovery, so those posts will take a little longer to appear.

In the meantime, thanks to my friends at the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page (videos change weekly), I found a nice video on CAL FIRE's post-wildfire recovery.

Direct link to video from CAL FIRE

Thursday, January 28, 2016

NASA -- Day of Remembrance

Today, January 28th 2016 is the 30th anniversary of the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger. On this Day of Remembrance NASA commemorates the loss of the crews of Apollo 1 (1967), Challenger (1986) and Columbia (2003). I know you are flying in favorable tail winds.

Direct link to video

NASA's remembrances

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Blizzard of January 2016 - coastal flooding and beach erosion

No, I am not here to write about snow from the Blizzard of January 2016 that impacted much of the Mid-Atlantic in the USA. The Blizzard, which hit during a full moon, brought very high tides during three tide cycles. This resulted in coastal flooding and beach erosion.

Please take the time to read the article from the Washington Post (with photos and videos) of January 24th (from the Capital Weather Gang) which provides a nice overview of what went on in the Mid-Atlantic in addition to the Washington D.C. area.

Photo Galleries of January 23-22, 2016 Blizzard:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

California wildfires - 2009

Like many others in the east coast USA, I got almost 2 feet of Snow Friday night January 22nd into Saturday January 23rd. My snowfall was 23 inches. Other areas saw from 24 inches to 30+ inches of snow. Thanks to some great help, I am dug out. But I did my share of shoveling before turning it over to a friend who offered to help. So, I think that you can understand that I was a little tired yesterday with the requisite sore muscles. So, I did not get online to post.

Like many, the blizzard put me behind schedule, I expect to resume work on a one project today.

I was looking around for an interesting video to share with you this morning and came across a nice video from Alan Simmons, a 9 minutes of highlights from his 2009 California Firestorm Video. Enjoy. Stay safe.

Direct link to video

Friday, January 22, 2016

Weather Balloons

I am sure that many of you in the United States know that the much of the east coast is experiencing a snow storm. If you are interested in knowing what is going on in a particular area of the east coast, just go to the National Weather Service

I woke up this morning to no heat, fortunately the technician came almost first thing in the morning and it was up and running by 11:30 AM. Wish us luck. I am not quite sure what this storm will bring us. I am about 60 miles inland. Nonetheless, we are under a blizzard warning until early Sunday morning. I am hoping to set a couple of blog entries to post automatically into next week, just in case. Murphy's law and all that.

Anyway, I got the idea for today's post because a nearby National Weather Service Office (NWS), New York, NY launched extra weather balloons last night and today because of the upcoming storm. Let me backtrack a bit. Several National Weather Service offices around the country launch weather balloons twice a day with a radiosonde. The radiosonde measures and transmits air pressure, temperature, relative humidity, wind direction and wind speed. The NWS New York, NY is one of the NWS offices that launches balloons. Not every NWS office launches a balloon, mine in Mt. Holly does not. But Mt. Holly will get the balloon data from NWS offices that launch balloons. Among other things, the data from the balloons are used in the weather prediction models used by the NWS. For more information on weather balloons go to this NWS page

You may read about the extra balloon launches by the NWS New York, NY here and here.

Here are a couple of videos from the NWS New York, NY on their balloon launches.

I could be wrong, but I believe that the National Hurricane Center's Hurricane Hunter Aircraft may have flown into the low pressure system that is now bringing snow to the eastern seaboard.