A Drought Monitor Shows Risk of Fire Danger from Wildfires
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?
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.
This affordable model is easy to set up, and includes humidity calibration.
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
~ 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.
- Atlantic Basin Hurricane Names 2014
Find out which names will be used for this year's Atlantc Basin Hurricanes, which names are new, what ones won't be on the list, and why.
- Know the Cone!
Find out all about the National Hurricane Center's famouis cone of uncertainty
- Ten Tips for Cruising in Hurricane Season
Tips from a veteran cruiser (me) on how to be ready to enjoy your hurricane season cruise - whether a tropical weather system crosses your path or not. (Yep. Benn there, Done that. More than once.)
- Hurricane Danger: Storm Surge
You may be in greater danger from storm surge than from the high winds of a hurricane.
What are your thoughts on wildfires, fire fighters, or fire safety?
Or, you can just say hello if that suits you.