Friday, March 31, 2017

A brief look at how recent wildfires in OK, KS, & TX affected ranchers

Those of you who have looked at my March 29th blog post have met Molly Green, Office Manager of the Laverne OK office of Tyree Ag.

Specifically, I shared a video from the Oklahoma Forestry Services where Molly was discussing the relief efforts that are still underway for the ranchers affected by the devastating Northwest Oklahoma Complex that burned over 779,000 acres.

I was interested in what Molly had to say on the video, and it did not take me long to find the webpage for Tyree Ag, so I called her. We had a nice conversation, I appreciated the time she took to talk with me. We talked some more about the hay drop off for ranchers. I learned from her that many ranchers lost miles of fencing and that fencing is very expensive to replace. More importantly, she told me how much the ranchers loved their animals. I can relate to that.

We then spoke of the loss of so many head of cattle. I told her that I had seen some pictures from newspaper articles. By this time, I had told her about my blog, that I had posted  a few articles about the wildfires that affected Northwest Oklahoma. We talked some more, and she told me about a nine-minute video that I am sharing with you below. She thought that this video, by Arable Media and Agri-Pulse Communications  would be a good way to share with you about how the wildfires have affected the ranching community in OK, KS, and TX. The video has some graphic images of dead cattle that some might find hard to watch. We talked about the graphic images in the video, she told me that dead cattle (and other livestock) is their reality. It was hard for me to watch portions of the video. But I am glad that I watched the video without forwarding through graphic images. I needed to see that. 

I'd like to finish off with saying that in watching the video, I am struck by the residency of the ranching community and how they take care of each other. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who had losses because of these wildfires.


Direct Link to video on Facebook

I thought it important to share this video with you today. I hope to finish my three part series with updates of the Northwest Oklahoma Complex on Monday, April 3rd.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

NW Oklahoma Complex Update 2 of 3 - March 29th (videos from the fire)

Continuing with the post that I wrote on March 27th, with an update on the Northwest Oklahoma Complex that burned 779,292 acres and is now at 100 percent containment, I want to share some videos that were posted on the Oklahoma Forestry Services Facebook page seven to ten days ago. Specifically, they posted a series of videos that they called #FacesoftheFire. I am sharing three of these #FacesoftheFire videos from the Oklahoma Forestry Services Facebook page. Enjoy.

Molly Green, Office Manager for Tyree Ag (posted on March 15th)


John Morgan, Safety Director with Laverne (OK), Fire Department (posted on March 19th)


John Brown, SEAT Pilot with Henry's Aerial Service out of Brinkley, Arkansas (posted March 20th)



Finally, Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today shared two stories from firefighters who fought the NW OK Complex on March 15th that you will want to look at.

I hope to wrap this series of updates about the NW OK Complex on April 3rd. Stay Tuned.

Monday, March 27, 2017

NW Oklahoma Complex Update (March 27th) 1 of 3

I last wrote about the NW Oklahoma Complex Wildfires on March 17th, at that time the complex was at 85 percent containment. As some of you may already know, the complex that burned a total of 779,292 acres is at 100 percent containment according to the Northwest Oklahoma Complex page on Inciweb (last updated on March 26, 2017). I'm not quite sure when the fire was contained, but I think that it was contained on or about March 22, 2017. The last update on the NW OK Complex that I found is dated March 21st and may be found on this Inciweb page, where they report in part about the Complex wildfires:
The four large wildfires make up the Northwest Oklahoma Complex, which includes the Starbuck (Kansas and Oklahoma), 283, Selman, and Beaver fires. There have been two confirmed civilian fatalities to date, one in Oklahoma and one in Kansas. Local, county and state firefighters joined forces to stop the fires. Vast acreage of rangeland was destroyed, killing thousands of livestock, and destroying at least eight Oklahoma homes. Kansas officials confirmed the loss of 34 homes. In Clark County, Kansas, six additional homes were damaged, 108 outbuildings were lost with an additional 13 damaged.
Acreage burned for the four large fires that make up the Northwest Oklahoma Complex according to the March 21st update on the Northwest Complex:

  • Starbuck Fire (Kansas and Oklahoma) - 662,700 acres with about 71 percent or about 472,000 acres of this wildfire being in Kansas.
  • Beaver Fire - 2.962 acres
  • Selman Fire - 44,234 acres
  • 283 Fire - 69,396 acres
Here is the latest map, courtesy of Inciweb, that I found on this Inciweb page dated March 21st.

Obtained on March 27, 2017 from https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/map/5138/0/61978/
On March 21st the Southern Area Red Team turned management of the Northwest Oklahoma Complex of Wildfires to the Oklahoma Forestry Services. See the Facebook that I embedded below (that may be found here)


I will continue with part two of this update on the NW OK Complex either on March 29th. I finish with part three of this update on April 3rd.

On March 31st, I took a short break from this series to share a related video from Arable Media and Agri-Pulse Communication on how ranchers in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas have been impacted by the devastating wildfires (the NW OK Complex and other wildfires). 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Prescribed burns resume in portions of New Jersey

We still have remnants of last week's snow fall on the ground here in northern New Jersey, at least in my corner of northwestern New Jersey. Perhaps more north of me. While I don't know for sure, I think that the the ground may still be too wet for prescribed burns.

Not so in central and southern New Jersey, where prescribed burns resumed earlier this week. I believe that prescribed burning season in New Jersey normally ends sometime in the middle of March. According to my friends at the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page, prescribed burning season has been extended to April 1st in New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) Division B. I don't know for sure about NJ FFS Divisions A and C, but I wonder if prescribed burning season is extended to in those Divisions as well. A map and a listing of the counties in each of the three NJFFS Divisions may be found here (scroll down to the middle of the page.

Back to the prescribed burns conducted this week, these are the prescribed burns that I know about and is not necessarily an all inclusive list. I suspect that there are or were other prescribed burns that I do not know about.

According to the  prescribed burns are being conducted today (March 24th) in the following counties (Ocean, Atlantic, Monmouth), the New Jersey Forest Fire Service posts about where prescribed are happening on their Facebook page The NJFFS posted about today's prescribed burns in theirMarch 24th Facebook post which I have embedded below:

According to the New Jersey Forest Fire Service Face Book Page (March 21st, March 23rd) prescribed burns were conducted in Burlington County earlier this week.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Parliament Fire in Cypress Preserve (FL) update

March 23rd, 8 AM. According to an update from the Big Cypress NPS posted on their Facebook page about 11 PM on March 22nd (embedded below), The Parliament Fire has burned 15,389 acres and is at 20 percent containment.


March 22nd, 8:30 PM. Thanks to my good friend from Florida who tipped me off that the Parliament Fire saw a significant increase in acreage burned today. Specifically, the Parliament fire has burned 11,009 acres and is at 15 percent containment. Reports that this fire was a prescribed fire that broke containment seem to be false (see Facebook Post from the Big Cypress NPS embedded below. The cause is under investigation. Aviation resources are being used to support the wildland firefighters on the ground.




A 61 mile section of the Tamiami Trail (US 41) was closed today from Everglades City to Miami at the request of officials in charge of fighting the wildfire.

For more information on the Parliament Fire see:

Miami Herald, March 22nd
News29 report, update March 22nd with video
Bill Gabbert from Wildfire Today, March 22nd

Florida Wildfires - March 22nd update

I wrote about the Lee Williams Road Fire on March 9th, according to today's (March 22, 2017) Morning Report from the Southern Area Coordination Center (SACC), the Lee Williams Road Fire is at 95 percent containment. Note the morning report is updated daily during wildfire season so what you see will likely be different. If my understanding of the SACC Morning Reports is correct, the current days Morning Report, in this case March 22nd, contains updated fire information for no later than the day before, in this case March 21st.

While I was on the SACC page this morning I noticed a Fuels and Fire Weather Advisory for South Florida released on March 10th. Drought conditions are leading to extreme fire concerns. See also this article from the Miami Herald, wildfire season could be hot and damaging, that a friend of mine sent me around the same time that also references wildfires that were then burning.

Obtained on March 22, 2017 from http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article137818613.html
I was wondering about the current wildfire situation in Florida, and found some information on today's (March 22nd) Morning Report from the SACC (Fire size information for March 21st). I begin with three wildfires because these three fires (and the Lee Williams Road Fire are mapped on some screen shots from today's GeoMac Wildland Fire Support Map Viewer (see below)
  • Red Fox Fire, started on March 18th, burned 2,530 acres, 15 percent containment
  • Parliament Fire, started on March 18th, burned 6,027 acres, no containment 15,389 acres with 20 percent containment. I wrote a later post with current acreage burned here. The latest update on the Parliament from the Big Cypress NPS (posted on the Big Cypress NPS Facebook Page about 10 PM on March 22nd has acreage burned of 15,389 acres with 20 percent containment
  • Sonny's Fire, started on March 19th, burned 500 acres, 20 percent containment.
There were two other Florida Wildfires of 500 acres or more that I saw on this mornings Morning Report from the SACC (neither were mapped on Geomac but were mapped on the SACC map
  • SR100 County Line Fire (Putnam County, west of Palm Coast), started on March 18th, burned 993, 75 percent containment
  • Afternoon Fire (Miami Dade County, south of Homestead, near the border of the Everglades National Park), started on March 20th, burned 610 acres, 100 percent containment
I got two screen shots from Geomac for you, one for North Florida and the other for South Florida.

Obtained on March 22, 2017 from https://www.geomac.gov/viewer/viewer.shtml

Obtained on March 22, 2017 from https://www.geomac.gov/viewer/viewer.shtml

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fuel reduction (Prescribed) burn in Tyler Texas

Here is a nice 4 minute video of a fuel reduction burn that was done in Tyler Texas earlier this month. Thanks to my friends at the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page for pointing me to this video. I enjoyed this video because I learned a little something about the forests in and around Tyler Texas,


Direct link to video

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wildfire Update - NW Oklahoma Complex - March 17th

The NW Oklahoma Complex of wildfires is at 85 percent containment according to the march 17, 2017 daily Oklahoma Wildfire Situation Report issued from the Oklahoma Forestry Services:

Northwest Oklahoma Complex – This Complex is being managed under Unified Command with the Southern Region Red Team (Type 1 IMT with Mike Dueitt, Incident Commander) and Woodward, Buffalo, Laverne, Slapout, Moorland, Rosston and Beaver Fire Departments. The Complex is currently at 85% containment. Numerous OFS overhead, heavy equipment, Type 6 Engines and aircraft are assigned to the complex to assist local fire departments with the control efforts. Other state forestry resources from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana and Tennessee have arrived and are committed to the firefighting effort. An Incident Command Post is established at the Woodward County Fairgrounds to facilitate briefings, resource assignments and ordering. Fire danger conditions over the fire area are forecast as “Elevated” today and predicted to become “Near Critical” on Sunday. Resources will continue working existing control lines and mopping-up hot spots to strengthen the fires’ perimeter. Utility companies have started to replace power poles and lines damaged by the fire. There were no changes in fire perimeters during the previous burning period.

Starbuck (Beaver and Harper County) – 662,687 acres total (464,308 acres in Kansas and 198,379 acres in Oklahoma). Near the Oklahoma communities of Buffalo, Knowles, Gate, Rosston and Laverne. Numerous residences, secondary structures, livestock and other infrastructure lost. Damage assessments are on-going.

Selman (Harper and Woodward County) – 47,289 acres, located approximately 10 miles north of Woodward. No estimate on residences or secondary structures lost. Damage assessments are on- going.

283 Fire (Harper County) – 69,395 acres, located near the communities of Rosston, Laverne and May. Damage assessments are on-going.

Beaver Fire (Beaver County) – 2,962 acres, located between Beaver and Elmwood along highway 273. Damage assessments on-going.

Here are some some videos showing footage of recent wildfire activity NW Oklahoma and Kansas (also affected by wildfires):


Direct link to video


Direct link to video


Direct link to video

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Small brush fire in Lakewood NJ on March 9

Thanks to my friends at the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page for tipping me off to the NJFFS Helicopter (Delta 7) that worked a small brush fire in Lakewood, (Ocean County) NJ on March 9, 2017. I was busy doing other things last Thursday so did not notice until after the fact that Red Flag Warnings were up for portions of New Jersey on March 9th because of gusty winds. The fire burned an area of about one-quarter of a mile along with two cars. The fire started in or near a truck company's lot. My friend pointed me to nice video of Delta 7 working the fire. The videographer, FireEMS Films, has disabled embedding. This is a nice video and it only takes a little over a minute to watch the video.

Video NJFFS Helo (Delta 7) doing bucket work

Asbury Park Press article on the Lakewood Brushfire (March 9, 2017)
Asbury Park Press photos on the Lakewood Brushfire (March 9, 2017)

Edited on March 16, 2017 at 10:10 AM. I was just informed by a friend in the know, that there was no Red Flag Warning on March 9th. He told me that there were high winds and a low Relative Humidity. Apparently, the brush fire that started in a Trucking company parking lot jumped nearby railroad tracks into an adjacent wooded area. There was a swampy area and more parking lots near this wooded area which helped the firefighters stop this 13-acre brush fire.

Monday, March 13, 2017

USAF Hurricane Hunter flies winter storm (March 12)

In the course of learning and then writing about Hurricane Hunters last year, see for example this post, I learned that the Hurricane Hunter aircraft will sometimes fly reconnaissance missions into winter storms to gather information that can go into the weather models. Last Friday I saw a couple of references that such a Hurricane Hunter Recon flight was planned for this past weekend. See for example the tweet below by Gary Szatkowski a retired National Weather Service Meteorologist




I know that I saw a couple of other references to this Hurricane Hunter recon flight. Unfortunately, I failed to bookmark these references.

Some of you may recall that there is a nice website that tracks reconnaissance flights into the Atlantic by NOAA's and the USAF's Hurricane Hunters, Aerial Reconnaissance in the North Atlantic. Wanting to find out a little more that I could share with you, I went to Aerial Reconnaissance in the North Atlantic and then to their Recon Archives, and looked under non-tasked missions in 2017. I found what I was looking for:

Mar.12th, 00.38Z, Track66, flown by AF304 (US Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron).

If you look at the list of flights under non-tasked missions in 2017, you will see that you have the option to either look at a map in Google Earth or in Cesium (that you can access with most but not all browsers). I used Cesium to get some screen shots for you.

Here is a partial list of archived flights for you:
obtained on March 13, 2017, 2:45 PM EDT from http://tropicalatlantic.com/recon/recon.cgi?basin=al&non_tasked=2017
Here are a couple of shots from Cesium (represented by the icon on the far right in the last column:
The flight of AF304 is represented in orange. Obtained on 3/13/17from http://tropicalatlantic.com/recon/recon.cgi?basin=al&year=2017&identifier=Track66&mission=02&agency=AF&aircraft=304&month=03&day=12&mapping=cesium

And here is a close up view where you can see icons that represent dropsondes and the hourglass icons represent observations:

Finally I selected a dropsonde observation for you. I could only get a small portion of the data for you in this screen shot.

Obtained on 3/13/17from http://tropicalatlantic.com/recon/recon.cgi?basin=al&year=2017&identifier=Track66&mission=02&agency=AF&aircraft=304&month=03&day=12&mapping=cesium
As a resident of New Jersey, one of the many states that will be impacted by this major winter storm tonight into tomorrow, I want to thank AF304 and her crew from the USAF 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron for flying this storm and getting data on the storm that can only be obtained from the air. I know that this data went into the weather models used by the National Weather Service. Your flight on our behalf matters! Thank-you again and stay safe!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Update (March 10th) - Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas wildfire outbreak

For those of you who are arriving here, I have written two articles on the current wildfire outbreak in Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas on March 7th and March 8th

Kansas and Oklahoma:

From the Oklahoma Forestry Services (Daily) Fire Situation Report for March 10, 2017:

Northwest Oklahoma Complex – The Southern Region Red Team (Type 1 IMT with Mike Dueitt, Incident Commander) assumed command of the Complex at 0700 today’s date. This Complex will be managed under Unified Command with Woodward, Buffalo, Laverne, Slapout, Moorland, Rosston and Beaver Fire Departments. Numerous OFS overhead, heavy equipment, Type 6 Engines, and aircraft are assigned to the complex to assist local fire departments with the control efforts. Other state forestry resources from Arkansas, Louisiana, and Kentucky have arrived and are committed to the firefighting effort. An Incident Command Post is established at the Woodward County Fairgrounds to facilitate resource assignments and ordering. Fire behavior was minimal during the previous burning period and expected to remain low today. A few flare-ups occurred on the fire, but mop-up and control line reinforcement continues. Aerial mapping is an ongoing process to provide updated acreages for each incident. Acreage figures may actually decrease due to more accurate mapping. 

Starbuck (Beaver and Harper County) – 662,687 acres total (464,308 acres in Kansas and 198,379 acres in Oklahoma), 10% containment. Near the Oklahoma communities of Buffalo, Knowles, Gate, Rosston, and Laverne. Numerous residences, secondary structures, livestock and other infrastructure lost. Damage assessments are on-going. Numerous communities remain on alert. 

Selman (Harper and Woodward County) – 44,338 acres, 25% containment, located approximately 10 miles north of Woodward. No estimate on residences or secondary structures lost. Damage assessments are on-going. Numerous residences remain threatened. 

283 Fire (Harper County) – 69,395 acres, 10% containment, located near the communities of Rosston, Laverne, and May. Damage assessments are on-going. Numerous communities remain on alert.

Texas:

From the Texas A&M Forest Service, Wildfire and Disasters, Fire Danger, Current Situation webpage , updated on March 10th at 8 AM local time (accessed on March 10, 2017, information updated frequently)

Perryton Fire in Ochiltree, Hemphill, Robers and Lipscomb Counties. 318,156 acres. Two homes destroyed. The Perryton Fire has a page on Inciweb. Containment is at 85 percent.

Dumas Complex Fire. Potter County near Amarillo. 28,800 acres (estimated). Fire is 100 containment.

Lefors East Fire. Gray and Wheeler Counties. 136,000 acres (estimated). Fire is 100 percent contained.

More information (kudos to Mike Archer at Wildfire News of the Day) for pointing me to these articles:

Cattlenetwork on losses to livestock
KFOR on Oklahoma Forestry Services asking for help
Kansas City Star - update on wildfires in Kansas

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Wildfires in Florida - Lee Williams Road Fire (Collier County)


March 10th 5:10 PM update: The Lee Williams Road Fire that I wrote about yesterday, see below, remains at about 7,500 acres burned and is at 65 percent containment.



March 9th

Winter is wildfire season in Florida, as of March 9th, there were 59 wildland fires burning in Florida for a total of 16,511 acres, with eight being over 100 acres. See the map below that I obtained from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Wildland Fire Division.
Obtained on March 9, 2017 from
I have been thinking about the wildfires burning in Florida this winter, but had not yet written about Florida this winter. In the course of reading and following the awful wildfire outbreak in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, I learned about a wildfire that is currently burning outside Naples Florida, in and near the Picayune Strand Forest in Collier County, FL. So, I knew that I had to spend a little time learning about what is going in Florida and to focus on the fire burning outside Naples known as the Lee Williams Rd Fire. That fire, started on Sunday, March 5th, the cause of the fire is under investigation, according to today's update from Collier County (see this March 9th report from Collier County, link live at the time I posted this article).

As of Thursday afternoon, March 9th, the fire had burned 7,500 acres and is at 50 percent containment. At least three residences and several outbuildings have been destroyed. Evacuations were in place earlier this week and were lifted Tuesday night or Wednesday. Portions of I-75 was closed at least twice. 

I found the following video, shot on Tuesday evening March 6th, on the Immokalee Fire Control District’s Facebook Page


And some photos shot and uploaded by Joey Weiner, a local photographer.


I understand that at least one air tanker and some helicopters have worked this wildfire and other wildfires in Florida. Video below from Joey Weiner


Here is a map of the Lee Williams Road Fire in the Picayune Strand Forest that I obtained from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Wildland Fire Division.

Map obtained on March 9th from

I'd like to close on a more personal note. As some of you may know, I have had a special affinity for the Everglades and environs in south Florida for quite sometime. About fifteen years ago I spent a week south of Orlando and during that week, I took a couple of days to drive to the Naples, where I stayed in a hotel near a gulf course and spent a wonderful day driving along the Tamiami Trail (south of I-75), and took a couple of tours of the Everglades, one on a boat that left from Everglades City. While I understand the importance of fire the Everglades ecosystem, I am saddened that some have lost their houses to the Lee Williams Rd Fire. I'd like to thank all the firefighters, on the ground and in the air for working this fire.

More information on wildfire in Picayune Strand Fores:

Wildfires elsewhere in Florida:

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Wildfires in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas (March 8th)

I wrote about the wildfires currently burning in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas yesterday, writing about two hours of footage by News 9's (Oklahoma) Storm Tracker as he reported late in the afternoon of March 6th from southern Harper County and northern Woodward County in northwest Oklahoma. Here is some incredible footage from the Washington Post, summing up in one minute the destruction and power of wildfires along with the dedication of the wildland firefighters.  Footage from Florida, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.




As of late last night (March 7th) over 833,000 acreage has burned in three fires in northwest Oklahoma and adjoining areas of Kansas. From the March 8, 2017 Oklahoma Forestry Services Fire Situation Report (also see Bill Gabbert's March 8th articles on the northwest Oklahoma wildfires where he talks about the acreage burns with a map he obtained from the Oklahoma Forestry Services.

Northwest Oklahoma Complex – Oklahoma Forestry Services Type 3 IMT is in Unified Command with Woodward, Buffalo, Laverne, Slapout and Mooreland. A Type 1 Incident Management Team has been ordered. Significant growth occurred on all fires in the complex. Numerous OFS overhead, heavy equipment, Type 6 Engines, and aircraft are assigned to the complex to assist local fire departments with the control efforts. An Area Coordination Center and Staging Area has been established at the Woodward County Fairgrounds to facilitate resource assignments and ordering. All fires in the complex were aerially mapped yesterday evening.

Starbuck (Beaver and Harper County) - 715,484 acres total in Oklahoma and Kansas, 0% containment. Near the Oklahoma communities of Buffalo, Knowles, Gate, Rosston, and Laverne. Numerous residences, secondary structures, livestock and other infrastructure lost, 0 % containment. Numerous communities remain threatened. Fire growth continued yesterday and through the nighttime hours. 

Selman (Harper and Woodward County) – 47,289 acres, 0% containment located approximately 10 miles north of Woodward. No estimate on residences or secondary structures lost. Damage assessments are on-going.. Numerous residences remain threatened. Fire growth continued yesterday and through the nighttime hours. 

283 Fire (Harper County) – 71,168 acres, 0% containment Near the communities of Rosston, Laverne, and May.no estimate on residences or secondary structures lost, damage assessments are on-going. 0 % containment. Numerous communities remain threatened. Fire growth continued yesterday and through the nighttime hours.

The acreage burned is incredible. A friend in Oklahoma referred to these wildfires as "horrible," his words are echoing in my brain as I write this. At least six people in Oklahoma and Texas have died in these wildfires.  (see this report from News 9 Oklahoma). Cattle have died, hayfields have been lost, an unknown number of structures and residences have been lost. As with many wildfires, many have lost everything. I have read about cases where the wildfires spared a home. I wonder about the homes I saw in the March 6th footage close to the path of the wildfire in southern Harper and northern Woodward Counties. Where they saved. What about the cattle I saw in the same and other footage?

I have been watching some live stream from News 9 Oklahoma as I write this. Yes, a little hard to do when I am writing at the same time and trying to find various articles. When I first tuned into the stream, I saw a grader working on a fire line followed by a view of a small structure burning. As the camera zooms out I see various fire vehicles. Right now the news helo is over a smokey area, he just zoomed in a tree that is surrounded by fire. A few minutes ago I saw some very impressive flames.

I am still processing what I have seen in these streams and other videos of wildfire footage.

There are a lot of wildland fire crews on the ground, joined by crews in the air working these wildfires. Evacuation centers have been set up. The National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices in the regions affected by these wildfires (Norman and Tulsa Oklahoma, Amarillo Texas, Dodge City Kansas and I am probably leaving some out) are working hard to get fire weather forecasts out there, doing what they do to try to take care of their people.

For the firefighters, stay safe and thanks for all you are doing. My condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of those who have died.

A few sources of information:

photo gallery from NewsOK
KFOR on threats to livestock
Summary of wildfires (March 7th) from News12 WBNG
Aerial photos of wildfires near Hutchinson Kansas
New York Times (March 8th) in the Plains
Wildfire Today on Texas wildfires
Wildfire Today on Colorado wildfires
Wildfire Today - five fatalities from wildfires (written March 7th)

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Wildfires burn in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas

I have had some interest in following the spring wildfire season in Oklahoma because of some acquaintances I have made there. The last several days, I have made a habit of going to the Oklahoma Forestry Services webpage to download the daily Oklahoma Wildfire Situation Report. Knowing that yesterday was a day when all or most of Oklahoma and portions of adjoining states were under Red Flag Warnings, I suspected the worst and hoped for the best. Red Flag Warnings continued today in portions of Northwest Oklahoma and adjoining areas of Kansas.

I learned of four large fires that were reported in this morning's Oklahoma Wildfire Situation Report (March 7th). All are in northwest Oklahoma:

  • Starbuck Fire (Beaver County), an estimated 185,000 acres have burned near Knowles and Gate. Numerous structures including residences were lost. No containment.
  • Selman (Harper County, near Selman)), no estimate of size, and no estimate of structures lost. No containment.
  • 283 fire (Woodward County): Near Woodward. No estimate of size, and no estimate of structures lost. Numerous communities remain threatened. No containment.
  • Territory (Stephens County, north of Empire). 1,200 acres burned near the Territory Gulf Course. No report on containment information.
Here is a statewide summary from the March 7th Oklahoma Wildfire Situation Report:
Widespread fire occurrence was experienced near and west of Interstate 35. Estimates on acreage burned are sketchy due to smoke obscuring the majority of NW Oklahoma. Flight operations (aerial suppression and mapping) will resume as conditions allow. Current estimates show between 200,000 and 300,000 acres burned in Beaver, Harper, and Woodward counties. Multiple federal, state, and local resources will remain committed to the incidents for the next several days. 
While I am focusing here on Northwest Oklahoma, wildfires are or have occurred in other areas of Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today has two reports on these fires, one is on the outbreak in Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma and the other is about a tornado in Kansas that forced wildland firefighters to evacuate.

I did a quick web search earlier this afternoon to see what other information I could find about this wildfire outbreak. I spent an incredible two hours watching a video on Facebook reported by Storm Tracker Marty Logan of News 9 in Oklahoma late in the afternoon of March 6th. He was in northwest Oklahoma near the Harper/Woodward County line late yesterday afternoon (5 PM  to about 7 PM local time) reporting on the wildfire. Incredible and scary footage. A cold front approached about an hour into the video (that was streamed live on Facebook). When the cold front and the associated change in the direction the winds were coming from he noted that winds were at 30 mph, gusting to 51 mph. After the winds changed, visibility dropped to about 200 yards or less because of the heavy smoke from the approaching wildfire. Very moving footage of the efforts of firefighters to try to save two homes. I wonder if they were successful? Or were these two homes among the residences lost. I am still processing what I saw, and am struck by the power these wildfires and the dedication of all the firefighters in Oklahoma and environs fighting large wildfires where resources were stretched thin. Logan moved at least four times in the video to get out of harms way as the wildfire moved towards him. At various points during the video, Logan (who is or was a 25-year firefighter) panned around the area where his truck was stopped showing with the smoke from the other wildfires burning in Oklahoma and Texas.


Direct link to AP Video

Here are a couple of reports from News 9 OK that you may want to read for more information.

Wildfires Burn NW OK into Kansas (with video) updated March 6th at 11:39 PM
Two civilian deaths in OK from wildfires (March 7th at 2:38 PM)

Finally, here is a video report from the News 9 OK Facebook page that was posted about 3 PM, March 7th local time. You will here an update from an official from Oklahoma Forestry Services report on the wildfires in Oklahoma.




Monday, March 06, 2017

Red Flag Warnings in Plains, Prescribed burns in NJ

As I write this there are Red Flag warnings (in pink on the map below) for Monday, March 6th in portions of the Plains in the United States. That is portions of Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska are under Red Flag warnings. Also included in the Red Flag warning are a small portion of Iowa and South Dakota as well as a small corner of Missouri. The areas colored in yellow on the map are under a Fire Weather Watch (portions of Missouri).

Map obtained from NWS Fire Weather -- http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ridge2/fire/ on March 6, 2017 at 11:50 AM
Meanwhile, here in New Jersey, we had some dry and windy conditions around the State this past weekend. These conditions probably limited where the New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) could conduct prescribed burns. As always, when the NJFFS announces their daily or weekend plans for prescribed burns as they did on the NJFFS Facebook account this past weekend, the prescribed burns are weather dependent. Perhaps it was the weather that lead the NJFFS said in their Facebook post of March 5th to cancel prescribed burns in the northern and central portions of New Jersey (Divisions A & B). Given the winds that I myself experienced over the weekend, I can understand why prescribed burns were cancelled in my part of New Jersey. Prescribed  burns did continue as planned in the southern portion of New Jersey (Division C).

The NJFFS has planned prescribed burns for today, Monday March 6th, as noted in the following Facebook post (click on "see more" for a complete list)



Stay safe everyone!

Friday, March 03, 2017

More on prescribed burns - New Jersey and New Hampshire

New Jersey Advanced Media did a nice video report last week about New Jersey's prescribed burning season.  I knew about the video report but only learned today that it was posted on Youtube. Thanks to my friends from the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page for sharing this video. You will learn about how prescribed burns are done in New Jersey and how some of the trees in the New Jersey Pine Barrens need the heat from fire to reproduce.


direct link to video from NJ.com

In the following 3 minute video you will learn about a prescribed burn done in New Hampshire last year to improve the habit that the endangered New Hampshire Karner Blue Butterfly needs in order to recover and reproduce.


direct link to video from NH Fish and Game

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

New Jersey: prescribed burns (2/28)

Today's weather has been unsettled with showers and thunderstorms as well as being in the 70s. So I don't think there were any prescribed burns today (March 1st) in New Jersey. There is a wind advisory out for tomorrow covering northern New Jersey and adjoining areas in New York and Pennsylvania. The New Jersey Forest Fire Service (NJFFS) did conduct prescribed burns yesterday (February 28th):

Burlington County:
Pemberton Township, Brendon T Byrne State Forest

Ocean County:
Berkeley Township, Double Trouble State Park



Speaking of prescribed burns, watch Jeff Foxworthy explain the benefits of prescribed or controlled burns done, in a three year rotation, on his property.