Friday, August 18, 2017

Upcoming Solar Eclipse on August 21st

I don't normally write about celestial events here on this blog, but I am making an exception with the upcoming solar eclipse in the US on August 21st. As a child I was living in Massachusetts, and in the summer of 1963 I do recall seeing what I was told was a solar eclipse. Someone told me, probably my Dad, that the moon would be blocking the sun during the day. It turns out that the solar eclipse that I witnessed that afternoon was not a total solar eclipse, but a partial solar eclipse, more information on that eclipse may be found here. Still as a child, I was awestruck by what I saw.

I am hoping to be at or near an area where the total solar eclipse may be seen on Monday, August 21st. See the map. I'll let you know what I see or don't see. I was fortunate enough to find a few pairs of reputable eclipse viewers from a local store before they ran out. Looking at the eclipse with reputable eclipse viewers can cause blindness, please be safe, please don't be fooled by counterfeit products. Our eclipse viewers are from American Paper Optics, meeting ISO 12312-2 international safety standards for eclipse viewers. These are paper, and I will use them under my eyeglasses. For other tips on viewing the eclipse safely, go to this NASA page.

The National Weather Service has a webpage where you may find out about weather conditions and other facts about the upcoming eclipse, see this NWS website for more information.

A map from NASA of the path of the eclipse and how much of the eclipse you can see over the US and adjoining areas of Canada and Mexico is reproduced below. Some of you might be interested in NASA's explanation of this mapping along with some other products and some history here. NASA's entry page to eclipse mapping is found on this NASA webpage.

Obtained on August 16, 2017 from
If you will be driving around the time of the eclipse, please be safe and follow the suggestions in this Time Magazine article. Allow extra time to get to your observation spot if you are going to somewhere in the path of totality and arrive early!

NASA's entry page to the 2017 eclipse may be found here with links to oodles of information. I suspect that many newspapers have coverage of the eclipse. I'll leave you to your own devices to find coverage in your favorite media outlet, but here is a nice page on the eclipse from the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Space dot com has a list of live streams covering the eclipse available here. NASA will have a livestream of the eclipse on Monday with a variety of ways you can stream the eclipse, including facebook, smart phone apps, and NASA TV, the entry page for NASA's eclipse live stream is hereNASA has a page with some apps that you may choose from to watch the eclipse on your tablet or smartphone. Finally NASA has a nice press release about the eclipse and some viewing options that was posted on June 21, 2017.

For those of you who are home during the day and want to watch the eclipse from your living roomI think, but am not sure that the Weather Channel, ABC and the Science Channel are among those networks that will be broadcasting about the eclipse. I don't know how many of you will have the Science Channel but I think that most basic cable and satellite packages include an ABC affiliate as well as the Weather Channel. You might want to check your local listings to verify this and to see about other live eclipse coverage where you live.

The links on this page may only be live up to the day of the eclipse. So, I suspect that some of these links will be no good after the eclipse has passed. However, I'll try to post something about the eclipse, a video and other stories after the eclipse has passed.

On Monday, I will post links to what I hope for where you can go for live streams of the eclipse.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

IMET deployments - early to mid August 2017

It continues to be a busy wildfire season, The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) issued a National Preparedness Level 5 (on a scale of 1 to 5) on August 10th for about four days. As I write this on August 16, the National Preparedness Level is at level 4, still high but not as high as it was. For those of you who are curious, and want to see the current National Preparedness Level, you will want to visit this NIFC page. Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) continue to work wildfires, monitoring weather conditions on their assigned wildfires and conducting briefs to name but a few things that they do. As you can see from the Facebook Post embedded below, IMETs issue lightning alerts.

Here are some recent IMET deployments. IMETS work onsite on their assigned wildfire for up to two weeks. As required a new IMET will be rotated in as an IMET finishes their deployment.

IMET Trainee
Deployed on August 8th

August 4th

August 6th

August 8th

Monday, August 14, 2017

Stories from survivors of the 2003 Cedar Fire (San Diego County CA)

The Cedar Fire, driven by Santa Anna winds burned over 280,000 acres in San Diego County California in late October/early November of 2003. In the first 24 hours something like 100,000 acres had burned. Fifteen people died including one firefighter. 2,232 residences were destroyed, 22 commercial buildings and 566 outbuildings were destroyed. The wildfire was human caused by a lost hunter setting a signal fire.

The Cedar Fire occurred some five years before I got interested in learning about wildland fires and blogging about what I was learning. Memory can be a funny thing, but I am pretty certain that I remember hearing about this wildfire through newspaper and other media accounts.

A friend of mine and retired wildland firefighter suggested that I read a book about this wildfire, The Fire Outside my Window: A Survivor Tells the True Story About the Epic Cedar Fire, by Sharon Millers Younger. I bought the Kindle edition last night.

I was looking for something to watch on TV last night (Sunday, August 13th) and came across a preview for NBC's Dateline Survivor. The show's title was "Inferno" and the description told me that I would hear survivors of the 2003 Cedar Fire tell there stories. Not all stories have happy endings, one family tells of the death of their young daughter. I watched "Inferno" with interest because of my wildland firefighters recommendation of Sharon Millers Younger's book. It turned out that Ms. Younger and her husband were among those who told their stories about surviving the Cedar Fire.

I watched the show with interest because it gave me a view of the experience of surviving an epic fire such as the Cedar Fire. A view that I don't ordinarily get to see. Not a comfortable show to watch, but important for me to watch. I have a lot to think about, and expect that I will have more to think about after I read Younger's book. The two hour shows focuses mainly on the stories of some of the survivors of the Cedar Fire. If you want an analysis or after action report of the wildfire, this is not the show for you.

For those who are interested, here is a link to an NBC site with what I think is the full edition of "Inferno". Note that you will have to disable your ad blocker, if you have one. I had difficulty disabling the ad blocker on Fire Fox but was able to disable my ad blocker on both Chrome and Safari on my Apple Mac. I don't know how long NBC will have this show online for free viewing. I don't know how long the NBC I linked to will have the full edition of "Inferno" on their website. If Dateline NBC has uploaded the show to their Youtube channel (NBC Dateline), I can not find it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Remembering my friends in Florida and a bad year for wildfires

I came across two videos about the 2017 fire season in Florida. I'd like to thank my friends at the B10 NJ Wildland Fire Page who post new fire videos each week,  your shared both of these videos in recent weeks.

Many of you know that I have a special place in my heart for Florida. I am glad that you have good wildland firefighters, on the ground and in the air who work to keep you safe.

Direct link to video

Direct link to video

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Update: GOES-16 Field Campaign

Sometime on or about March 22, 2017, GOES-16 began a two month period of field testing to calibrate the GOES-16 instrumentation. During this period high altitude planes, unmanned space systems (drones), the international space station, and other satellites were used. The expertise of a variety of personnel were used including but not limited to satellite engineers, meteorologists, and pilots. I wrote an earlier article on this field campaign, including a video, on June 19th.

You might be interested in three articles from the NOAA Satellite and Information Service plus a Flicker page with some still photos:
The latest GOES-R (aka GOES-16) quarterly newsletter with links to archives may be found here, you may also find links to factsheets and a GOES-R overview on that page.

The field Campaign was completed on May 17, 2017 (see p 3 of the 2nd Quarter 2017GOES R (aka GOES-16) Newsletter). The folk at the GOES-16 Field Campaign released a six-minute on June 27th providing more details on what was involved in the field campaign including some images of the earth taken from NOAA's U2 plane used in the field campaign. I think that you will enjoy this video, I know that I did. I found the video on this page on GOES-R dot gov, with a grid showing other videos on the GOES-R/16 mission.

Direct link to video

Monday, August 07, 2017

CAL FIRE may be getting close to a contract for Black Hawk Helicopters

For awhile now, I was wondering if it might soon be time for CAL FIRE to replace their Super Huey helicopters. So, I was very interested to read Bill Gabbert’s August 3rd  article that CAL FIRE is in the process of completing a contract with Air Methods/United Rotorcraft for the Sikorsky S-701 Black Hawk Helicopter. If this comes to fruition, CAL FIRE will replace their Super Hueys with Black Hawks. There is more that has to happen before the deal is finalized, Bill writes:
Before the contract is signed other bidders have the opportunity to protest the award. If one is filed, the final decision will be made by a neutral administrative law judge in the Office of Administrative Hearings. … 
“Even after a contract is awarded”, Chief Pimlott said yesterday, “the number and timing of the State’s orders will be determined on a year-by-year basis. The contract does not commit the State to any specific number of purchases or delivery schedule.”

An August 3rd article in Vertical Magazine by Elan Head offers some details about CAL FIRE’s Request for Proposal:
According to its request for proposal (RFP), Cal Fire anticipates acquiring 12 aircraft over a five-year period. However, as actual purchase rates and quantities may vary, the five-year contract will include an option to extend the contract for up to three additional one-year periods.
You may want to read both articles referenced here for more information, and a couple of photos.

Friday, August 04, 2017

Time for more Helos (Aug 2017 edition)

Regular readers may recall that when I love helicopters, and that I had a good friend who is now flying in favorable tail winds. Matt, I share these helicopter videos in your memory. May you rest in peace. I know that you are smiling on all firefighting helicopters.

Direct link to video

Direct link to video

Direct link to video

Thursday, August 03, 2017

A look inside an Airtanker courtesy of a Tanker Captain

I was checking out yesterday's (August 2nd) Wildfire News of the Day from Mike Archer when I came upon an article with a video on Inside an Airtanker from KDRV Newswatch 12 out of Medford Oregon. In this video you will Captain Ron Minter of Neptune Aviation talk about the demands of being a Tanker pilot. Captain Minter and his co-pilot have had a long season, flying since February 28, 2017. They get one day off a week, at where ever their current base is.

Captain Minter and his co-pilot were flying the Modoc July Complex (just south of the Oregon-California border at the time of the KDRV report, based at Medford (OR) Airtanker Base. Medford was very busy at the time of this report. You might recall that a NWS Incident Meteorologist (IMET) Trainee was deployed to the Modoc July Complex on July 31st. As I write this, the Modoc July Complex has burned 73,735 acres and is at 35% containment. Bill Gabbert of Wildfire Today has written about the Modoc July Complex, go to his August 2nd article with links to his earlier articles for more information. You might also be interested in KDRV's August 2nd article on the Modoc July Complex (with a couple of photos).

I could not get the embed code that KDRV supplied with the video to work, I am sorry. That happens sometimes. Here is a direct link to the two-minute video from KDRV, I encourage you to take a couple of minutes to watch the video.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

More IMET trainees deployed to wildfires

Several days ago I wrote about Incident Meteorologist (IMET) Trainees with the help of my friends at the US National Weather Service IMET Facebook page, see my July 21st post for more information on IMET training. I was perusing the IMET Facebook page just now to see what is going on when I saw that three IMET trainees have been deployed to three different wildfires since July 31st. I wish all these IMET trainees deployed to these three fires as well as other IMET trainees not currently deployed safe wishes as you complete your task books under the guidance of an experienced IMET mentor.

IMETs save lives!

On July 31st IMET trainee was enroute to Modoc July Complex; 73,735 acres burned at 35% containment)

On August 1st IMET trainee was enroute to Lolo Peak Fire; 6,302 acres, burned no containment information. Here is a three minute video on Lolo Peak Fire Strategy and Tactics that you might enjoy and another video of an IMET releasing a radiosonde weather balloon last week to collect meteorological data.

On August 2nd, IMET trainee enroute to Sapphire Complex Fire; 12,775 acres at 5% containment