Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Images from recent wildfires in California and Canada

Here are some videos and images from recent wildfire activity in California and Western Canada.

First up a video shot from the cockpit of a C-130 MAFFS from the 146th Airlift Wing team. There was a nice short article on the Weather Nation about this C-130 MAFFS with a link to the video from the National Guard that I am embedding below. This is great footage of the view from the cockpit of working a fire.

Direct link to video on Youtube from the National Guard

CBS News had a nice report (with a photo gallery and videos) on wildfires in California and western Canada (go here for the September 13th report from CBS News). The video link in the report that says "wildfires rage in 8 western states (dated September 3rd) may lead you to another CBS News video, However I did find a direct link to this video. As always, I am never quite certain how link the embed code for videos from network news outlets will work. So if you arrive here later to find that the videos no longer play, you will know why. Before I share the videos, there is a great photo gallery of images from wildfires in the western USA and Canada included in this CBS news report on the western widlfires. As fate would have it, I had trouble with the embed code that CBS news supplied, that happens sometimes so here are direct links to the two videos included in the report:
Perhaps you will find references and links to these videos and the CBS September 13th report on the wildfires on other websites that cover wildland firefighting. I  heard about these reports and videos from Mike Archer's Wildfire News of the Day e-mail newsletter for September 19, 2017. Mike does a great job with the Wildfire News of the Day (5 or 6 days a week). Thanks Mike!

Monday, September 18, 2017

Recent IMET assignments (September 2017)

It has been over a month since I posted about recent IMET (Incident Meteorologists) assignments. IMETs save lives. I am very thankful for the work you do to provide site specific weather forecasts on your wildfires so that all the crews have the best weather forecasts possible. You do this to keep everyone safe. IMETs save lives!

September 11th

September 13th

IMET enroute and IMET getting ready to launch a weather balloon!

A trainee assigned to a wildfire

September 16th

IMET enroute and photo of some weather instruments.

Friday, September 15, 2017

New Jersey Forest Service helping out in Montana

Sometime over the summer, I'm not quite sure when, the New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) sent an Engine Strike Team (comprised of three engines) plus crew to help fight wildfires in Montana. I am very proud of the engines and the crews who have been helping fight the wildfires in Montana. I would like to thank my friends at the NJFFS Section A2 for the great reporting that they did on their Facebook page. I am going back 1 month to provide you with some highlights of what the NJFFS Engine Strike Team has been doing in Montana. Links provided to Federal Fires listed on Inciweb where possible.

August 14, NJFFS Engine Strike Team released from the Trail Fire and released to Miles City Dispatch (Montana) for reassignment.

August 20, NJFFS Engine Strike Team is still at Miles City. 

August 24 NJFFS Engine Strike Team at Miles City, crews transitioning. One crew demobilizing, another crew on way

August 27th, NJDDS Engine Strike Team released from Maurer Mountain Fire and enroute to Mendenhall Fire (Sweetgrass County, 3 miles south of Springdale, Montana)

August 29: photos from the Mendenhall Fire were NJFFS Engine Strike Team was then assigned.

August 31 NJFFS Engine Strike released from Mendenhall Fire and assigned to Sartin Draw Fire in Powder River County, 35 miles northwest of Broads, MT.

September 1, NJFFS Engine Strike Team still at Sartin Draw Fire, photos.

September 5, NJFFS Engine Strike Team returns to Miles City Dispatch Center. Crews in process of transitioning

September 6, transition day.

September 7, NJFFS Engine Strike Team assigned to Hart Fire, Rosebud County

September 14, NJFFS Engine Strike Team assigned to Blacktail Fire, east of Loco Mountain in the Crazy Mountains. 

Updated on September 16th at 12:30 PM. NJFFS Engine Strike Team has been released from the Blacktail Fire, returned to Miles City and will be returning to New Jersey.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Military Aircraft in action providing Irma relief

I am embedding a couple of videos for you from (Hurricane Irma) showing aircraft and aircrews being deployed in support of Hurricane Irma relief missions.

In the first video by Staff Sgt. Traci Keller (60th Mobility Public Affairs) you will see  two C-17 Globemaster III's take off on September 11th with supplies in support of Hurricane Irma relief efforts. One Globemaster is from Joint Base Charleston SC and the other is from Travis Air Force Base, California. Both are taking off from Travis Airforce Base.

In the second video, by Master Sgt. Philip Speck (123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs), you will see twelve members of the Kentucky Air National Guard 123rd Airlift Wing evacuate U.S. citizens from the Dutch Caribbean Island of St. Maarten on September 9-10th. The Kentucky Air National Guard had two C-130 aircraft working with the New York Air Guards 106th Rescue Wing and the Puerto Rick Air Guards 156th Airlift wing evacuating over 1,028 U.S. Citizens from St. Maartens.

Here you will see some Seahawk Helicopters take off on September 11th from the USS Abraham Lincoln (which I believe was off the eastern Florida coast when this video was shot). The USS Abraham Lincoln is but one of the military assets working with the Department of Homeland Security providing Hurricane Irma relief missions. Video courtesy of Navy Media Content Services, video by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jeff Sherman.

Finally, you will see a video shot from a Coast Guard Aircraft out of Air Station Clearwater (FL) flying over flooded Jacksonville FL on September 11th, providing rescues of those stranded by the flooding if required. Rainfall from Irma lead to the flooding in Jacksonville, FL on September 11th .

Monday, September 11, 2017

A little on aerial resources for Irma recovery

I am not here to blog on the recovery efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma's destructive path through Florida. If you landed here in the immediate hours or days after Hurricane Irma hit Florida then I leave you to your devices to find local TV and newspaper coverage. This is not an extensive list, but over the last couple of days I have referred to:
My interest today is in the use of aerial resources to get to the Florida Keys, which as many of you may know from the media coverage many areas of the keys are without cell phone coverage, land line phones, water, sewage, and  electricity. As I write this, Monroe County officials have not opened the Overseas Highway (Route 1) to the public and it will be awhile before that highway is opened. Only first responders and other essential personnel, National Guard, and Utility workers are allowed down the highway. Yesterday, I wondered about the use of aerial resources as I knew that two ways into the Keys are by air and by sea.

Florida Governor, Rick Scott was on a C-130 to get his first look at the extensive damage to the Florida Keys according to this article from the FL Keys News. As I understand that middle and upper section of the keys had the most extensive damage.

I got my answer when I saw this article on the FL Keys News about massive airborne relief mission to the Keys using C-130s and helicopters, some from the Mississippi Air National Guard with personnel, equipment and supplies.

I know that this post is sketchy because I don't really have much more information on these aerial relief missions. I do know from this post from Monroe County (covers the Keys) Facebook page that the runways at Key West Naval Air Station and Boca Chica Field, Boca Chica Key about four miles from Key West, FL It seems that helicopters will be the first in followed by the Cargo Planes (C-130s later).

And yes, speaking of help from the sea, there will soon by a US Airforce carrier off of Key West followed by a couple of naval vessels to assist (see this post from Monroe County (covers the Keys) Facebook page for more information.

Updated Tuesday, September 12, 2017, 9 AM

Later last night I found some press releases from the U.S. Department of Defense News website. They had the three news stories, all dated September 11th that pertain to aerial relief missions to Florida and the Caribbean impacted by Irma.

US Army deploys almost 10,000 troops, trucks and generators and at least six aircraft
New York Guard sending Aircrews and Blackhawk Helicopters (some with with hoists)
U.S. Northern Command positions military assets including aircraft
DoD Special Report with photos on Irma relief missions (accessed on September 12th at 9AM)

September 12th, 3:15 PM

A DoD report incorrectly stated that there may be evacuations of 10,000 people from the Keys. That statement in the report (that I have hopefully since deleted) is not correct per Monroe County FL (covers the Keys).

Friday, September 08, 2017

Kudos (again) to Hurricane Hunters

As folk in Texas and Louisiana (and elsewhere) continue to recover from Hurricane Harvey that made landfall on the Texas Coast on August 25th, Florida and adjoining states on the Southeastern United States are preparing for Irma's landfall later this weekend. My thoughts and prayers are with all those in Irma's path.

I know that NOAA's Hurricane Hunters as all as Hurricane Hunters from the US Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron of the 403rd Wing have been flying Irma to provide meteorological data on Hurricane Irma. Before I go any further, I want to express my deep appreciation and thanks to the crew of all of our Hurricane Hunters! What they do is risky!

NOAA Flight Directer, Richard Henning on board NOAA42 (Kermit) on September 6th gave Fox News an interview on what NOAA 42 is doing, below is the report (allow 5 minutes) from Fox News.

Direct link to video on Youtube from FoxNews

Here is a short video from Nick Underwood of NOAA of NOAA42 flying the eyewall of Hurricane Irma on or about September 6th, a category 5 hurricane at the time this video was posted:

I finish with another short video of NOAA42 flying Irma on September 4th, this time from Lt. Rob Mitchell of NOAA.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Reflections (sort of) on Aviation Weather

Regular readings of this blog know that I am a non-pilot aviation enthusiast as well as a weather enthusiast. Over the years, I have become acquainted with the NWS Aviation Weather Center website. I am grateful for the opportunity to sit in, as a non-pilot aviation enthusiast, to private pilot ground school a few years ago where I first learned the basics of the various aviation weather tools that pilots use. I augmented this with my own self study over the years. I appreciate that a good knowledge of aviation weather and the various tools available to pilots saves lives. But more than that, learning about aviation weather is somewhat complicated.

The origins of this post stems from reading an article on the AOPA website about a fly-in that the AOPA is hosting in Norman,  Oklahoma. Participants in this fly-in will have the privilege to tour the Aviation Weather Center for a small charge, and there is a two-day workshop, for more information go here. I would love to be in a position to go to any part of this event! But for various reasons, I can not.

I had decided when I first learned of this fly-in a few days ago on the AOPA website that I wanted to make a post about the Aviation Weather that both showed my respect for the staff of the NWC Aviation Weather Center and respected the complexity of Aviation Weather.

Knowing that AOPA Air Safety Institute (ASI)  does good work on air safety for pilots, and knowing that they have a lot of videos on various issues of air safety on their Youtube channel, I decided to find one of the videos on aviation weather. It turns out the the ASI was an eight part series on aviation weather for pilots that they call Weather Wise, the link to all eight videos on Youtube may be found here (or at least it was as I write this article on September 6th).

I am sharing here the first video in ASI's eight part Weather Wise series, called Weather Wise Gathering Information. The video is aimed at pilots who should already have a good working knowledge of the NWS Aviation Weather Center as well as at least one of the various private Aviation Weather Platforms used by pilots that are available on the web. For those of you who are not pilots, I hope that your take away is how important pre-flight weather planning and briefings are to all pilots (private, commercial, airline pilots, military pilots, ag pilots, tanker pilots, etc. etc).

Monday, September 04, 2017

Happy Labor Day Holiday to all who celebrate

I wish all who celebrate a Happy Labor Day holiday here in the United States. I am taking the rest of the day off from my labors.

Friday, September 01, 2017

Reflections on CAL FIRE

I finished off my trip to the west coast of the USA by visiting family and friends in southern California for a long weekend, a trip I make every two or three years. I don't recall any moderate or large wildfires in the portion of the state where I visited last June.  I think, but am not certain, that there was not high fire danger or red flag warnings when I visited. Not so in 2014 when I spent a week in southern California on personal business. There were red flag warnings up for a portion of my stay. I kept informed by following fire weather alerts from the National Weather Service. Because I was busy and also unfamiliar with the geography, I asked one of my friends to let me know if I should be aware of any fire danger near where I was staying or traveling. At the same time, I knew from what I have learned about CAL FIRE over the eight plus years that I have been blogging on aerial wildland firefighting that CAL FIRE and their partner agencies would be working to keep myself and more importantly my family and friends safe. There were no wildfires that I knew of either near where I was staying that week or near where I had to travel.

I am very grateful and want to thank CAL Fire and their partner agencies (local and national) for keeping my family and friends in southern California safe!

CAL FIRE has a good collection of fact sheets available on all aspects of CAL FIRE operations at the CAL FIRE communications web page, including but not limited to several factsheets on their aviation program. I will leave you to your own devices to check out all their aviation related fact sheets, but to get you started you may want to read this overview on the CAL FIRE Aviation Program, and some information about their S2-T tankers. I wrote in early August that CAL FIRE hopes to replace their Super Huey Helicopters with Blackhawk Helicopters.

In the months after I started blogging on aerial wildland firefighting in early 2009 I learned a lot about ground and air wildland firefighting through following wildfires including but not limted to the Station Fire. I followed the aerial and ground operations on live stream from southern California TV station, learning a lot with the help of a couple of former tanker pilots who always patiently answered my questions (and they still do answer my questions and otherwise help me out!). Of course at the same time I was following other wildfires that there then burning elsewhere in the US. I was off on a great adventure as I continued to learn and blog about wildland firefighting in the air in support of firefighters on the ground.

As time went on I continued to blog on aerial and ground-based wildland firefighting. Somewhere around 2012, I began to blog more on other aviation and meteorological issues unrelated to wildland firefighting. But I do and will always have a special place and affection for aerial wildland firefighting in support of wildland firefighters on the ground. So, while I do sometimes blog on my interests in aviation and weather, I do always return to blog about aerial wildland firefighting. CAL FIRE continues to hold one of the special places in my heart for all that I learned about wildland firefighting in the first year or so of blogging on aerial wildland firefighting. And as I said earlier, my feeling for CAL FIRE are personal because of my family and friends in southern California.

Thank-you CAL FIRE!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A little about Washington State wildfire resources

I continue to write about State level wildfire resources in states where I have spent some time this summer. In early June I traveled to the west coast visiting Washington in the Pacific Northwest and then southern California.

Over the years that I have been writing this blog I have known of many wildfires in Washington and have a great deal of respect for their State wildfire agency, the Wildfire Division of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). The WDNR is very competent, working hard to keep their residents as safe as they can from wildfire danger. They do this with the following resources:
DNR Wildfire is the state's largest on-call fire department, with more than 1,300 employees trained and available to fight fires as needed. This includes more than 800 permanent DNR employees, 500 seasonal employees, about 117 wildland fire engines, eight helicopters and six single engine air tankers, which are under contract with DNR.
Additionally, the Department of Corrections works with DNR on a voluntary Correctional Camps Program that provides job training for approximately 300 inmates while meeting the state’s need for more wildland firefighters and firefighting support. Corrections crew members are able to earn minimal funds while providing cost-efficient support. (obtained from on August 29, 2017)
I learned a little about their helitack program on the WDNR Aviation page, their eight UN-1H helicopters are equipped with buckets to drop water/foam on fires. In addition, they fly helitack crews to remote locations to provide initial attack on wildfires. More information about the helitack program is available on the WDNR Aviation page, and you will want to visit the WDNR flicker page for some photographs. For those of you who are interested in fire aviation, here is a link to a short history of the WDNR helitack program.

Finally, the WDNR has a nice page of wildfire information, including a map, with links for more information on current wildfires.

Next up: reflections on CAL FIRE.