Wednesday, May 31, 2017

May 31st 1889 Johnstown PA dam break and flood

Today, May 31st, is the 128th anniversary of the dam break and flood in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.

from PennLive

scenes of the 1889 Johnstown PA floods

physics based simulation of 1889 Johnstown dam break and flood

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day - remembering those who died in military service

Direct Link to Video

Please join me in pausing, albeit perhaps a day late, in remembering all the men and women in military service in the United States who have died in service to their country.  You have made the ultimate sacrifice. Let us not forget. Let us not forget the families whose loved one did not come home after their military service.

As someone who grew up an came of age while the Vietnam War was going on, I am offering a special remembrance for all who died in Vietnam.

I meant to write this post yesterday, May 29th, on the day that we celebrated Memorial Day in the United States. As I was reflecting on the act that I missed posting yesterday, I remembered that today, May 30th, is the day that I grew up celebrating as Memorial Day. So perhaps it is fitting that I write this post today.

Friday, May 26, 2017

GOES-16 to become GOES-East in Fall 2017!

GOES-East sits at 22,300 miles above the equator at 75° West. As I write this on May 26, 2017, GOES-13 is GOES-East. When GOES-16 becomes fully operational in November 2017, she will be moved to 75° West where she will become GOES-East. At that time, GOES-13 will be shifted to on-orbit storage with her sister satellite, GOES-14 from the GOES-N through P series, I wrote about GOES-13 to 15 on November 30, 2016. GOES-15 will remain at 137° West as GOES-West.

NOAA announced that GOES-16 will be positioned as GOES-East in November in a May 25th press release , here is an excerpt from this press release summarizing how GOES-16 will improve weather forecasting.
GOES-16 scans the Earth and skies five times faster than NOAA’s current geostationary weather satellites, sending back sharper, more defined images at four times greater resolution as often as every 30 seconds, using three times the spectral channels as the previous model. The higher resolution will allow forecasters to see more details in storm systems, especially during periods of rapid strengthening or weakening. Also, GOES-16 carries the first lightning detector flown in geostationary orbit. Total lightning data (in-cloud and cloud-to-ground) from the lightning mapper will provide critical information to forecasters, allowing them to focus on developing severe storms much earlier. (NOAA Press Release, May 25, 2017, NOAA”S newest geostationary satellite will be positioned as GOES-East this fall,

I will be writing more about GOES-16 in the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Utah National Guard (2013 Working Wildfires (part 2 of 3)

I am a little under the weather today with one of those darn summer colds. Enjoy this video, second of three parts) of the Utah National Guard engaging in aerial firefighting.

Direct link to video

I shared part 1 of this three part video series of the Utah National Guard on May 3rd.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Warren Grove Fire (Burlington/Ocean Counties NJ) - ten years later

It was ten years ago this past week that a F-16 military jet on a training mission on May 15, 2007 dropped a flare on the Warren Grove Gunnery Range from too low an altitude. The flare did not burn out, hit the ground and sparked a wildfire in the New Jersey Pine Barrens that eventually grew to 17,270 acre Warren Grove Fire.

The rains came the evening of May 16, 2007, see PineyPower’s May 16th, 6:50 PM blog entry (scroll down a bit). I’m not quite sure when the fire was contained, probably a few days later. The B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page posted the following on the bottom of their main page last week:
Section B4 Wildfire Anniversary
The 17,270 acre 'Warren Grove Wildfire', Barnegat, started on May 15-22, 2007
1 home destroyed, over 20 structures damaged.
Flares dropped from an F-16 belonging to the 177th Fighter Wing set off this large wildfire that consumed more than 17,000 acres (73 km²) of the Pinelands and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents.This fire burned through the following towns: Barnegat Twp, Bass River Twp, Eagleswood Twp, Little Egg Harbor Twp and Stafford Twp (accessed on May 19, 2017 from

Judy Smestad-Nunn reported on a Wildfire Safety Council meeting in Barnegat Township, NJ on May 11, 2017 for Micromedia Publications - Ocean County. Among the main purpose of the meeting was the tenth anniversary of the Warren Grove Fire. Among those present at the meeting where representatives from the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard. The 177th Fighter Wing accepted responsibility for the Warren Grove Fire. I know that the 177th Wing was involved in an investigation of the fire, unfortunately that report is no longer available on the internet. While the NJFFS reached out to representatives of the 177th Wing to alert them to high fire danger on May 15, 2007, it seems that the fire danger warning was never transmitted to the pilots. A F-16 dropped a live flare from too low an altitude, the flare did not burn out in time and the Warren Grove fire was born. The 177th Wing and the Warren Grove Gunnery Range have made changes in the hope that a fire like the 2007 Warren Grove Fire never happens again:
Major Still, who is a pilot for the NJ National Guard, said the range was shut down for a year and a half afterwards, and new leadership was put into place to make sure it didn’t happen again. 
‘We don’t drop flares, there are no pyrotechnics, and every user who flies on the range takes a test explaining the rules,’ he said. Pilots also have to take a fire test, Major Still added. 
The Guard has instituted a fire response plan, and in the event of a fire they would get involved more quickly, he said. 
Master Sergeant Michael Mimler said a lot of what was done to reopen the range has become a national standard. 
'We communicate with local fire services. We have fire check-ins, and a lot of other ranges are doing the same thing,' he said. A lot of great things have come out of this for communities across the country’ (obtained on May 20, 2017 from

Improvements in communications among neighboring towns, evacuation plans, and Firewise Communities which encourages and helps resident to do what they can to mitigate the risk of wildfire damage to their home and property. I wrote about fire and fuel breaks built after the Warren Grove Fire in October 2011.

The Asbury Park Press wrote a good article on the 10th anniversary of the Warren Grove Fire and lessons learned including more information on the Barnegat Wildfire Safety Council, one of the first towns to have such a council. Among the issues that the Barnegat Wildfire Safety Council works on are what the town and her residents can do to lessen the risk of wildfires. The APP article may be found here.

Before closing, I want to spend a little time on Firewise Communities. According to a brochure on Firewise Communities that I got from the New Jersey Forest Fire Service a few years ago Firewise Communities play an important role in wildfire suppression efforts:
When a large, fast-spreading wildfire occurs, firefighters may not have the resources to defend every home that becomes threatened. Communities whose residents take proactive steps to reduce their vulnerability have a greater probability of withstanding a wildfire and reducing damage and loss. Prepared communities became part of the suppression efforts and not part of the problem in controlling a growing wildfire (I am unable to find this brochure on Firewise Communities in NJ online).
To learn more about Firewise communities you might want to start by reading this brochure, Adopting Firewise Communities/USA: People Working Together . Firewise frequently asked questions may be found at Firewise FAQs  , and finally there is a Firewise Toolkit.

New Jersey’s first Firewise Community was Hardwick Township (Sussex County) in 2004 with Stillwater and Medford becoming Firewise Communities in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Barnegat, which was impacted by the Warren Grove Fire became a Firewise Community in 2008.  New Jersey currently has 14 Firewise Communities. See this list of Firewise Communities in the United States  or view the Firewise Communities interactive map of Firewise communities in the U.S. A list of Firewise State Liaisons may be found here. The New Jersey Forest Fire Service has a Firewise page. and you may learn more becoming a recognized fire wise community in New Jersey here.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Just In - Wildfire in Burlington County NJ

May 20, 4:25 PM

I was perusing local New Jersey media this afternoon, in the course of reading through the headlines on New Jersey Advance Media, I saw this article on a wildfire that is currently burning in Burlington County NJ. The wildfire is burning in Shamong Township near the Wharton State Forest in Burlington County NJ. The fire has burned about 75 to 100 acres as of this morning. New Jersey Forest Fire Service Crews are putting in a containment line around the fire and are setting backfires to protect homes in the area. No evacuations are in place at the moment.

The B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page has this notice on their main page:
05/20/17 @ 0950 hrs- SECTION B1, Shamong Twp "Bards Bridge Wildfire" behind the Antler Gun Club on Bards Bridge Rd.- NJFFS IC has requested an observation helo and command post trailer. Estimated size is 150+ acres with some containment. Size is expected to increase to around 300 acres after burn-out operations.  Local fire companies have set-up structure protection for homes in the area. State route 206 is still open.
Updated 1430 hrs.
(accessed on May 20,2017 at 4:19 PM from
Additional reports on the wildfire in Shamong Township:
ABC6 in Philadelphia
NBC10 in Philadelphia

May 20, 2017, 10 PM

The B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page is reporting that the Bards  Bridge Wildfire (Shamong Township in Burlington Township near the Wharton State Forest) has been fully contained at 300 acres. Local fire companies provided structure protection for residences near the wildfire earlier today. No homes have been damaged. New Jersey Forest Fire Service Wildland Firefighters will continue to patrol and monitor the fire overnight.

New Jersey Advance Media, 7:09 PM on May 20th

Friday, May 19, 2017

A look back at the Station Fire (2009)

As sometimes I happens this time of year, I got involved in picking up some plants and gardening supplies today so I never did finish the article I started on the 10th anniversary of the Warren Grove fire that burned over 17,000 acres in the Pine Barrens in Burlington and Ocean counties New Jersey. I hope to finish and post that article this weekend or perhaps on Monday. Sorry about that.

In the meantime, enjoy this video compilation from the Station Fire (shot on August 28-30) that burned over 160,000 acres. I cut my teeth, so to speak, watching live footage of this fire seeing some incredible footage of tanker and helo operations. You will see some nice tanker and helo footage in this video. Enjoy!

Direct link to video

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NWS Incident Meterologists (IMETs) - 2017 edition

Some of you may recall that I started to write about Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) last year (see for example August 10, 2016, August 11, 2016, and August 15, 2016.  Briefly, IMETs are Meteorologists with the National Weather Service who have received extra training that helps them provide onsite meteorology support services to wildfires and other incidents.

I hope to continue writing about IMETs during the 2017 wildfire season, so I want to take a little time to share some information about what IMETs do. 

First, there is a short article shared on the Weather-Ready Nation website on A Day in the Life of an Incident Meteorologist (IMET) on the Front Lines of a Wildfire , some of you my recall that I shared this article in one of my blog posts from 2016. I thought it worth reposting a link to this article because I think that it provides a nice overview of what IMETs do. Those of you who watch the Weather Channel may be familiar with a show called the Wx Geeks hosted by Dr. Marshall Shepard from the University of Georgia, On December 16, 2015 he interviewed Heath Hockenberry from the National Weather Service who was the Fire Weather Program Manager for the National Weather Service, go here  to watch the 17-minute video.

I’d like to share a short video where you will hear an IMET talk about his work.

I am sure that many of you know about the West Mims Fire that has burned over 152,231 acres in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia, the fire is currently at 23 percent containment. Those of you who are interested in reading more about the West Mims Fire will want to read Bill Gabbert’s article on Wildfire Today about the West Mims Fire, he first wrote about the West Mims Fire on April 10th and he has written other articles as well which you can access via this link. When I went to the NWS IMETs Facebook page earlier today, I noted that IMETs were assigned to the fire on April 13th for two weeks and another on April 25th. A third IMET was assigned to the fire on May 8th.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Air Spray (Edmonton Alberta) celebrates 50 years

Direct link to video

Air Spray, out of Edmonton Alberta, has been in the aerial firefighting business for fifty years. Air Spray's roots began as Air Spray Ltd in 1954 as an Ag Aviation operator. Air Spray Ltd's first foray into aerial wildland firefighting began in 1958 with  a contract with Alberta using two Stearmans, later switching to TBM Avengers in 1961. Air Spray Ltd went out of business in 1996 and was resurrected and reincorporated in 1967 as Air Spray (1967) Ltd. To read more about the history of Air Spray, go to the Air Spray History page.

Air Spray's current air tanker fleet consists of

I don't know how long this will be freely and easily available on the web, but Skies Magazine has a nice spread about Air Spray in their May 2017 edition. As I post this on May 15th, Skies Magazine's May 2017 article on Air Spray (with nice photos) may be found here.

Congratulations to Air Spray on 50 years in the tanker biz. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Up close with a crop-dusting helicopter

I found some awesome footage of a crop-dusting helicopter this afternoon that I think you will like. For much of the video you are inside the helicopter on crop-dusting runs. But that is not all, there are some views, probably from a camera under the helo, as well as some awesome footage on the ground.  I especially enjoyed the small landing pad on the portable tanks so the helo's tanks can easily be refilled close to the dusting operations. Strap in and enjoy. Allow about eight minutes to watch the video.

Direct link to video on youtube

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

A look at the role of heli-rappellers

Enjoy this video from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), released in January 2017 as a part or their Wildland Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR). I enjoyed learning a little more about what is involved in heli-rappelling and how rappellers help out other wildland firefighters, especially in the remote mountainous regions of the western United States.

Direct link to video from NIFC

Monday, May 08, 2017

Aviation history -- a look at airmail circa 1925

I found myself a little depressed today thinking about abandoned airports. Wanting to put a more positive spin on aviation history, I found myself thinking about air mail service in the 1920s. I do not have time today to write on the role that New Jersey air fields played in air mail service in the 1920s and beyond. But I did go to youtube hoping to find something interesting to share with you, which is how I came to share this 61 minute silent movie (in two parts) circa 1925 from the United States Post Office department on the Air Mail Service. I believe that the aircraft that you will see is a Dehavilland DH-4. You will see her (or perhaps a few DeHavilland DH-4 aircraft?) make a cross country flight from New York to San Francisco.

The video that I am sharing, in two parts, is from the archives of the San Diego Air and Space Museum (SDASM). This is a silent movie, however, you might want to mute the sound to avoid a distracting humming sound. You won't miss anything.


Direct link to part 1 of video from SDASM Archives on Youtube

Direct link to part 2 of video From SDASM Archives on Youtube

From the Smithsonian National Postal MuseumAirmail in America: 1918 to 1926

Friday, May 05, 2017

A Neptune P2-V tanker in action (April 25, 2017)

I literally just saw a great video from Bob Webb of a Lockheed Neptune P2-V tanker in action. This is one of Neptune Aviation's P2-V's, T-14 (Webb/Bailey). You will see footage on the ramp and in action. Great camera placement. Bob just uploaded the video to Youtube on May 4th. Fire footage was shot on April 25 over the Sawmill Fire. Ramp footage at KFHU (Fort Huachuca Air Attack Base, Arizona). Second Mechanic and Videography by Dan Smith. Crew Chief: Dan Elliott.

Nice work guys, thanks for sharing this video with us. Stay safe and thanks for all you do to keep us safe.

Direct link to video from Bob Webb on Youtube

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Utah Army National Guard (2013) working wildfires

Most of my regular readers know that I love helicopters. Here is part 1 of a 3 part video showing Utah Army National Guard Helicopters working Utah wildfires in 2013.

Matt this is for you, may you continue to fly in favorable tail winds. RIP my friend.

Direct link to video

Monday, May 01, 2017

Images of fighting a grass fire in Kansas (late 2016/early 2017)

I have been doing some reading recently about grass fires in the southern Great Plains for some upcoming blog articles. I came across this 14 minute video of some firefighters working a grass fire near Marquette Kansas that was uploaded to Youtube by JRockyHill in January 2017. Not sure when the fire was. But you get the idea. of what the firefighters do to work a grass fire.

Direct link to video