Friday, January 18, 2019

CA rains: follow-up on January 18th

I am not in a position to provide a detailed follow-up to the post I wrote on January 16th where I wrote about rains continuing on burn scars in California with various Flash Flood Watches being issued by some of the Weather Forecast Office in California. I do know that there was significant rainfall in California as you can see from the map from the NWS California Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC) that they posted on their Facebook Page on January 18th.

Here is a map that I obtained from the CNRFC on January 18th. The orange circles indicate River gages that are at monitor stage.

Obtained at 12:08 PM PST on January 18, 2019 from
What is monitoring stage? Here is an example of data as of January 18th at 8:13 AM PST from a gage on the Sacramento River at Ord Ferry just southwest of Chico, CA. The gage is located in the Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge in Butte County, California, go to the link in preceding sentence and scroll down to see a map.

Obtained on January 18, 2019 at 12:34 PM PST from

The dotted orange link in the above graphic is the bottom of the monitor stage. The data is revised several times a day so what you see if you go the url will be different from what is displayed above.

I do know from reading storm reports from the NWS San Diego whose storm report may be found here ,and the NWS Hanford CA (their storm report is on this website) that there were several reports of flash flooding and debris flows. I do not if there was any property damage from these flash floods and debris flows.  I know from the CBS station in Los Angeles that residents in and near the Holy burn scar in the Lake Elsinore area of Riverside County were under evacuation orders on January 17th, go here to read the article. Mandatory evacuation were downgraded to voluntary orders yesterday. I believe that the voluntary evacuation orders were lifted later on January 17th.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Rains continue over burn scars in California (January 16-17)

Fortunately, predicted high hourly rainfall rates during the January 15th rain event over the burn scars in Santa Barbara County did not materialize. Santa Barbara County emergency officials had issued evacuation orders for January 15th for residents below the Thomas, and the Wittier/Sherpa burn scars. These evacuation orders were lifted at 6 PM on the 15th because the storm moved on quicker than forecast with lower rainfall rates. While I understand the inconvenience of these evacuations,  debris flows are nothing to mess around with. Safety is paramount. I am glad that these evacuation orders were in place for the safety of the residents. See this article from the San Luis Obispo Tribune for more information.

Southern and Central California will see more rain this afternoon, January 16th, into Thursday January 17th.  Note revised on January 17th at 2:30 PM to include NWS Sacramento CA

See this graphic from NWS Los Angeles/Oxnard:

Obtained on January 16, 2019 from

And this graphic from the NWS Hanford CA:

Obtained on January 16, 2018 from

Here is a graphic from the NWS Sacramento CA:

Obtained on January 17, 2019 from NWS Sacramento CA FB page: here

And finally, this graphic from the NWS San Diego CA:

obtained on January 16, 2019 from

Flash Flood Watches (be prepared!) issued by some of the California NWS Weather Forecast Offices on January 16th for portions of their forecast areas that include burn scars:

The National Weather Service has a good page on flood safety, information about flood advisories, watches and warnings may be found here. I wrote a longer article on NWS Advisories, Watches and Warnings with a Focus on Fire Weather with a discussion on post-fire debris flows and Flash Flood Warnings.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Grumman S-2A airtanker footage (1973) "Red Shower"

This may be another oldie but goodie. Even so, it bears repeating for the history. The video is from 1973, a California Department of Forestry presentation about the Grumman S-2A airtanker. You will see some other historic tankers. Allow just under 17 minutes to watch the entire video.

Direct link to video uploaded by AAFAirtankerVideos

Friday, January 11, 2019

2018 wildfire season: Camp Fire post fire hazardous waste clean-up: a conundrum where to put non-hazardous debris?

The clean-up after the Camp Fire is still in phase one, the clean-up of hazardous waste where according to this Butte County website, 61.6 percent of properties in Paradise have been designated and signed as having hazardous wastes removed, see my January 4th article for more information. Once the hazardous waste clean-up is completed then phase two starts, debris removal. Where debris removal includes non-hazardous debris including but not limited to remnants of burned structures, furniture,non-hazardous household items and personal effects. See the Butte County Debris Removal website and my December 19th article for more information

I am not quite sure if ash is removed during phase one or phase two.

There are thousands of properties that will be included in phase two of the post Camp Fire clean-up. The conundrum is where will the non-hazardous debris go?  There are designated landfills for hazardous debris in California and Nevada. Officials are looking at nearby towns in northern California for a "temporary scrapyard" to store burned non-hazardous debris. Residents of these towns have understandable environmental and public health concerns. I have no answer for the conundrum of where to put the debris. But I can say that it is not uncommon that residents do not want such a scrapyard in their town. There is an article from Emergency Management reporting on various issues involving where to put non-hazardous debris from the Camp Fire.

As I said, I have no answers. It is a conundrum. This is a question facing both disaster officials and the residents of nearby towns who have been approached about hosting this scrapyard. Public comments from residents of towns under consideration to host this scrapyard have been solicited. At some point a site for this scrapyard will be chosen and people are going to be unhappy.

My thanks to Mike Archer of Wildfire News of the Day for sharing the article from Emergency Management the other day.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

About NWS Warnings with attention to fire weather

Some of you may have notice that in the last day I have a new page on this blog, NWS Advisories, Watches & Warnings, where I have posted a long article that I wrote called National Weather Service Advisories, Watches, & Warnings with a Focus on Fire Weather.

Late last summer I got in a conversation with a couple of friends of mine about the difference between Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings issued by local National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Offices (WFO). I wanted to give them some good information so with the help of a couple friends from a couple of NWS WFO including my very own NWS Mt Holly WFO, I made some notes about Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings. To make a long story short, I did more reading on NWS websites. As I read more, I realized that I wanted to expand my notes into a longer article with the intention of providing information for the general public about various NWS advisories, watches and warnings focusing on fire weather.

The result is an article that is a little over six pages on my word processor. I was helped along the way by several NWS meteorologists from NWS WFOs around the country, including the Mt. Holly (Philadelphia) WFO. In addition, I was helped by a retired NWS meteorologist. They answered my questions, and provided new insights and where there when I wanted to know if my thinking was correct.

I hope that some of you find this article useful. It is my hope that this article will apply to those of you in rural as well as suburban and urban areas. Further while there is a special focus on fire weather; some of the advisories, watches and warnings I write about apply in situations where there are no current or recent wildland fires. There are numerous NWS links in the article that you can refer to for further information.

You will note that I refer to this article near the top right hand side of my blog for ease of reference. 

Monday, January 07, 2019

A Helo working fires in Saskatchewan (2015)

Some of you may have noticed that every so often I embed a video highlighting helicopters working wildfires in support of the wildland firefighters on the ground. And when I do so, I share the video in memory of my friend Matt, who is now flying in favorable tail winds. Matt was not a pilot but he was a fan of anything to do with helicopters and we had a lot of fun talking about helos. So Matt, this video below, of a 206 Long Ranger LII fighting wildfires in Saskatchewan is for you.

Direct link to video from Martin Camirand

Friday, January 04, 2019

2018 wildfire season: Camp Fire post fire hazardous waste clean-up -- Jan 4 2019 update

I wrote about the hazardous waste clean-up following the Camp Fire in my December 19, 2018 article. Recall that part one of the clean-up involves hazardous waste clean-up by teams from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with the assistance of the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Part two of the clean-up involves debris and ash removal. See the Butte County (CA) site on post-fire debris removal for more information.

As I write this, 45.8 percent of 13,000 properties in Paradise, California are designated (and signed) as hazardous waste removal being completed. The sign posted on the property designates that hazardous waste clean-up has been completed. In addition, a hazard fact sheet is posted. See this interactive website for current information, with maps.

I don't exactly know current information on resident re-entry into the fire area. That is, in early December 2018, I know that residents went to check points where giving a safety kit with information and protective clothing and a N95 mask to wear and instructions (see this re-entry page from Butte County recovers). Even when a property has been designated as having hazardous waste removal being complete, people must still take precautions when re-entering their property. Hazardous may remain in building materials, ash on the ground and other areas of the property. As stated earlier, debris and ash removal falls under part two of the clean-up. Water may still be contaminated, including well water. Follow any water usage restrictions. Wells and septic systems may have been compromised.

I close with an excerpt from this Butte County Hazard Advisory:


Fire damage can create significant health and safety hazards that may be present at individual properties. It is recommended that structure ash is 
not disturbed due to potential exposure to toxic materials. If you choose to visit your property, please consider the following:

  • Wear sturdy shoes (steel toes and shanks are recommended) and clothing.
  • Hazardous chemicals and conditions may be present.
  • Inspect propane tanks for visible damage before turning on.
  • Coverall clothing when in proximity to ash. Wear gloves, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants to avoid skin contact, whenever possible. Goggles 
  • should be worn.Contact with wet ash may cause chemical burns or irritation on skin. Change your shoes and clothing prior to leaving the decontamination site, to avoid tracking ash into your car, home, etc.
  • Anything in contact with ash should be cleaned and sanitized. Sorting through/cleaning fire debris is not recommended.
  • Be aware of slip, trip, fall, puncture and overhead hazards.
  • Do not use leaf blowers or do any activities that will put ash into the air.
  • Wear a close fitting respirator mask that is rated N-95 or P-100 to block particles from ash or smoke from being inhaled. N-95 respirators are well-
  • fitted when they do not come into contact with facial hair; strap tension is adequate, not overly tightened; and masks fit across the nose bridge. A tight seal would not be possible for most children, even with a small adult-size model. People with heart or lung disease should consult their physician before using a respirator. 
  • The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) is the only agency that certifies respirators to determine that they adequately protect people. Look for NIOSH approval on the package 
  • or label.


Links in this article were valid at the time I wrote the article on January 4, 2019. I assume that these links will be active for as long as the clean-up continues. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

2018 Fire Season: Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center & Southern Oregon

Enjoy these two short videos summarizing the 2018 fire season in eastern Idaho and southern Oregon.

The first video is from Idaho Fire Info, summarizing the Eastern Idaho Interagency Fire Center 2018 Fire Season. It is under two minutes long.

Direct link to video from Idaho Fire Info

The second and final video was uploaded by Jacob Sams, summarizing the 2018 fire season in southern Oregon.

Direct link to video from Jacob Sams

Monday, December 31, 2018

A Happy and Safe New Year to all.

I wish everyone a very Happy and Safe New Year. As 2018 winds down tonight, some of will be out celebrating, I wish all of you are celebrating a safe New Years Eve. Others may be traveling home tomorrow or the next day after time away.

I wanted to share a 2018 year in review video with you on the them of wildland firefighting and or first responders. Some of you know that among the states I have a special affinity for is Oklahoma. So it seems only fitting to share the following video with you from Oklahoma Emergency Services, titled "A Firefighter Tribute." The video is about Oklahoma, but the video speaks to this blog writer from New Jersey. Enjoy. Allow a little over eight minutes to watch the video.

Direct link to video from Oklahoma Emergency

Friday, December 28, 2018

Prescribed burns in U.S. Fall-Winter 2018-19

I was perusing Inciweb yesterday and noted that there is or has been a number of prescribed burns listed during the Fall and Winter of 2018-19. I am listing them below, any errors are mine. This list of prescribed burns is as of December 28, 2018. What you see when you access Inciweb may be different.


Big Horn Sheep 636 acres

Rapid River 5,000 acres
PV NIDGS 350 acres
East Fork 2,130 acres
Rocky Bear 52 acres
Payette, Fall 2018 3,732 acres
Four Mile 2,000 acres
Bald Hill 1,200 acres

Range Two Fire 9.196 acres




I am embedding a short video showing a controlled (aka prescribed burn) in the Mequon Nature Preserve in Wisconsin

Direct link to video on Youtube