Firefighter Briefing for 12/25/2016

Unsettled weather early Christmas morning and a dryline pushing east in the afternoon may likely result in very-high to extreme fire danger in far western Oklahoma.  Given the current fire weather forecast, the National weather Service has issued:

• Red Flag Warning:  Cimarron, Texas and Beaver Counties from 11:00 AM through 6:00 PM.

• Fire Weather Watch: Harper, Woods, Ellis, Woodward, Roger Mills, Beckham, Harmon, and

Greer Counties for Sunday (Christmas Day) afternoon.Issued 1815 hrs.

Please refer to http://www.weather.gov/ for the latest updates to the fire weather forecast.               12/24/2016

 Discussion:

Overnight, on Christmas Eve, a chance of thunderstorms will be present across the Watch/Warning area accompanied with relative humidity recovery near 100%.  Rainfall forecasts for the area are generally negligible outside of locally higher amounts associated with thunderstorms.  Precipitation chances will rapidly diminish Christmas morning as a dryline pushes east.  While storm chances remain in place for much of Oklahoma, areas west of the dryline may likely experience critical fire weather conditions during the afternoon hours.  While not diminishing the rapid upgrade in fire weather, it is worth noting that locations in the Watch/Warning that do receive precipitation will see some mitigation of overall fire danger as fine fuel moistures will be stalled from dipping into critical levels.

 

In the Watch/Warning Area, clearing skies will promote temperatures ranging 52°-63° with relative humidity values dropping to 20% or lower in some locations.  Southwest winds will increase through the day to 30-40 mph with gusts approaching 55 mph in the Panhandle and up to 45 mph in the Watch counties.  Strong winds and diving relative humidity will result in steady drying of fuels increasing fine-dead fuel availability through the afternoon.

 

Fire Behavior (at peak of burning period):

Given the fire weather, fuel moisture scenario and fine fuel dormancy, the potential for erratic and/or extreme fire behavior exists:

• Short Grass / Pasture:  200-300 ft./min., head fire flame length 2.5-6 ft average.

• Tall Grass / Prairie: 300-400 ft./min., head fire flame length 12-20 ft.  *Depending upon precipitation, some locations may exceed this while others do not meet the prediction performance.

• Grass/Shrub/Redcedar: 100-150 ft./min, head fire flame length 5-15 ft.

 

o Probability of Ignition will be 60% for a brief period in the afternoon hours meaning that there is potential for spot fires in grass fuels.

 

Fire Weather and resulting Fire Behavior predictions for tomorrow indicate the frontal assault should be avoided.  Anchor the fire at advantageous point (road, creek, cold black) and flank the fire if utilizing direct firefighting tactics.  Work the fire from the black if possible to provide for quick escape to a safety zone.  Avoid placing yourselves in a situation where unburned fuel is between you and the fire.

 

If engaged in structure protection, insure that you have established your escape route.  

• Back your apparatus in and clearly communicate escape routes.  

• Establish hose lays if possible that can quickly be disconnected should fire behavior mandate escape to a safety zone.

 

Resources:

• Due to forecast wind speeds/gust spreads and severe weather potential, helicopters will most likely NOT be available.

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Remember…  ONLY YOU can prevent wildfires!  Enjoy Oklahoma’s wildlands responsibly.  

• Report any suspicious wildland fire activity on the

• Arson Tip Line:  1-866-662-7766 (1-866-NO ARSON).

• Prepared by:  Drew Daily, Fire Staff Forester, Oklahoma Forestry Services - ODAFF