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A Drought Monitor Shows Risk of Fire Danger from Wildfires

Updated on September 14, 2014

Fire Danger from Wildfires During Fire Season

The drought index is down here in Florida right now, so the risk of wildfires is far less than it was a few months ago. That's because Florida's other season - Hurricane Season is approaching. The rainy season has started!

But, in other parts of the country drought is a serious issue. And that affects all of us because of the harm it does to crops.

If your area has lots of vegetation, it's wise to keep an eye on your drought index. You can do that by accessing a free drought monitor on the internet. The two most widely used are the Palmer Drought Severity Index and the Keetch-Byram Drought Index.

Hopefully , this page will remind you to be prepared for fire emergencies, and use water saving devices where you can.

1998 Was a Bad year for Wildfires in Florida

I didn't give the drought index or the fire danger levels a thought until 1998. That year, there were wildfires all around us. Some days were worse than others, but the air was heavy with the smell of smoke for weeks.

I was caring for a husband who had just had heart surgery, and two frail elderly parents, one of whom was blind, and both of whom used walkers and wheel chairs. The thought of what the poor air quality was doing to them was nearly as bad as wondering how I could quickly get all of them to safety should the need arise.

That year was a nightmare, but much more so for those who lost their homes than for those of us who simply endured inconvenience, uncertainty and hacking coughs.

Do YOU Pay Attention to the Drought Index for Your Area?

See results

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index

Measures Moisture in the Soil

The Keetch-Byram Drought Index was actually developed to measure the risk of wildfire based on soil moisture and general drought conditions. It uses a scale of 0 to 800 (with 800 being the most extreme drought) and is one of the four components used by the National Fire Danger Rating System.

The original authors of this model were John Keetch and George Byram, for whom it is named, and they based it on an assumption that saturated soil has 8 inches of moisture available to the vegetation.

If your local on air meteorologist shows a map of your area with each county marked with a color (blue or green through to oranges and reds) and / or number (0 to 800), the map you are seeing is based on the Latest KBDI Map.

Measure the Humidity - With a Home Weather Station

Humidity is a measure of the moisture, or lack of it, in the air. Track that and other essential measures of the weather with a home weather station.


The Palmer Drought Index

is used for Longer Term Drought Analysis

The Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) was created in the 1960's by a National Weather Service meteorologist named Wayne Palmer. It measures.

Over the years, The Palmer Drought Index has shown itself more effective in measuring drought conditions on a longer term basis - months, rather than weeks.

An Animated Palmer map is published each week by NOAA, showing the most current 12 months drought conditions progression in the U.S.


The scale of the Palmer Drought Index is from+4, through 0, to - 4, as follows:

+4 = Extremely Moist

+3 = Very Moist

+2 = Unusually Moist

+1 = Near Normal

0 = Normal

-1 = Near Normal

-2 = Moderate Drought

-3 = Severe Drought

-4 = Extreme Drought

Wildfires are Destructive

Wildfires burn about 5 Million Acres each year in the United States


Water Saving Devices

Saving water is a good thing no matter where you live, but it's particularly important in drought prone areas.


Firefighters Are Always at Work in Drought Conditions

They Are Real Heroes

As I write this, fire fighters are battling to save entire towns from massive wildfires in Arizona and New Mexico. These men and women work tirelessly, giving everything they can to save first lives, and secondly, property from total destruction by fire.

Fire fighters are a close fraternity, completely dedicated to what they do. When fire departments in one area are fighting against the overwhelming odds of massive fast moving wildfires, their commrades from other across the country fight beside them, even bringing equipment when they can. That's happening right now not only in Arizona and New Mexico, but also in Florida, where drought conditions have also created ample fuel and ripe conditions for the many separate fires burning there.

These men and women go where they are needed, and do what they must. And, they do so at their own peril. We all owe them a great debt of thanks.

Fireman's Prayer - If this doesn't bring a tear to your eye, nothing will.


When is Fire Season?

Find out, and be ready!

Not everyplace has a fire season. But there IS a time of year most everywhere when fire us more likely.

In Florida, for example, our fire season tends to be from around or near the end of dry season until hurricane season brings much needed tropical moisture. In other words, roughly March through June. VERY roughly. Sometimes a bad winter (with freezes) dries things out more and gives it an earlier start. Or an early or delayed rainy season could mean a shorter or longer fire season.

When is YOUR fire season?

Does your area have a fire season? Do you know when that is? When?

Be Prepared for Fire Emergencies - Planning Ahead with Safety Devices

Be prepared if fire should threaten your area. There are things you can do to make your home less vunerable, and you'll find them in the FEMA document listed above.

There are also some things you might want to have on hand, just in case. Here are a few of them.

Fire Fighters are Real Heros

Firemen are true heroes
Firemen are true heroes | Source

~ Thank You, Firefighters ~

You are real heroes

I Wanna Be a Fire Fighter - When I grow up!

If your little one is fascinated with fire engines, or proclaims, "I wanna be a fireman," then here are some things they might enjoy.

Weather affects our lives in more ways than most of us could even ever count. Here are several more pages on different weather related topics.

What are your thoughts on wildfires, fire fighters, or fire safety?

Or, you can just say hello if that suits you.

When is YOUR Fire Season?

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    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 

      6 years ago

      I live in Sweden - we don't have a fire season (but ice and snow in the winter)

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      And this is a very bad year in the midwest.

    • lclchors profile image


      6 years ago

      luckily we have few trees here but a lot of tall grass. So we do have problems with grass fires and we almost always have wind (Kansas)so fires can be a problem but not like in more wooded populated areas

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      There was one year that our community was completely surrounded by fires. That was pretty scary and the air quality was awful. Wildfires can do so very much damage. We were lucky last year to have the perfect balance of rain and sun. Very few fires and really not much of a fire season at all.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      6 years ago from Canada

      There was one year that our community was completely surrounded by fires. That was pretty scary and the air quality was awful. Wildfires can do so very much damage. We were lucky last year to have the perfect balance of rain and sun. Very few fires and really not much of a fire season at all.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice information. Thanks.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 

      7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      We don't really have the sort of drought and fire risk problems in most places here in the UK like you do in other parts of the world, so we don't really have to worry so much.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I know California and parts of the Southwest are very prone to fires. Luckily in Florida we do not have them as often.

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 

      7 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      I live in Arizona and I think it's always a drought here. We hardly ever get rain and have no idea how we have enough. Great info!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      No fire season per say here. Just all year long.

    • Redneck Lady Luck profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      7 years ago from Canada

      All summer long as I live in the southern part of Canada. Fortunately we have not had much fire risk this year as it has blessedly continued to offer us rain throughout the season this year.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 

      7 years ago from Templeton, CA

      We are in ours now. In fact, I heard firetrucks on the highway whiz past my house a few minutes ago. We have to have weed abatement finished by June. Rainy season is suppose to start around October, but it doesn't always.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Yes indeed. High fire risk season from October to April

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I live in the city with no concerns of a fire season but am aware of many areas that do. Growing up, we were very careful during dry spells in the forest.

    • Krafick profile image


      7 years ago

      I live in Mauritius and New Zealand. Both quite humid. Rafick

    • sidther lm profile image

      sidther lm 

      7 years ago

      always: south Texas! Great info- I wish more people paid attention

    • phoenix arizona f profile image

      phoenix arizona f 

      7 years ago

      Practically all the time. I live in Arizona and it's dry year-round.


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