Jul 182008

Despite the fact that this is currently the biggest fire in the country, things are a bit slow – and are already kind of winding down. There’s a projected containment date of July 25th. So, if that comes to fruition, they likely won’t need me much beyond that date.

Here’s a picture of Makoto, the IMET I relieved today, giving the afternoon planning weather briefing yesterday:

Here’s the area where the morning briefings are held:

…and there’s a track at the fairground where we’re based:

I know…boring. That’s all for now.

Jul 162008

I leave for my first National Weather Service Incident Meteorologist (IMET) dispatch this year, tomorrow morning. I’m going to the SHU Lightning Complex in Northern California (near Redding, CA). This fire has more folks on it that any fire I’ve been to yet – I think. As of this morning, there were 2,678 people at the incident. Woah. 80,957 acres are involved. (Situation report)




Sep 212007

I leave this morning at 0830 for home.

There’s a site called “Inciweb.com” that documents some things for the public, in regards to these wildfires. There are some cool photos there.

Also, at the end of a fire – we all write summaries of the fire from the perspective of our respective disciplines. Here’s mine:


September 10 ? September 19, 2007

************, IMET

The 10th and 11th of September, area weather was dominated by upper level and surface high pressure with very dry air in place. On the 12th, an upper level disturbance began to push into the Pacific Northwest as it rotated around a large upper level trough strengthening over the North Central U.S. This disturbance helped to push a dry cold front through the area during the day, prompting the issuance of an anticipatory Red Flag Warning by the Spokane NWS office early in the morning on the 12th. The warning was verified by strong gusty east to northeast winds and minimum afternoon relative humidities in the low teens to around 10% across the fire. As the large upper level trough over the northern plains retreated eastward, a weak closed upper level low pressure system developed over NE California/SW Oregon. This feature remained more or less in place from the 13th through the 15th, and helped to drive very dry primarily E to NE flow over the area. Between 0946 on the 13th and 1746 on the 15th, RH at the Gold Mountain RAWS did not rise above 25 percent ? including a minimum of only 10% in the afternoon of the 14th, and a recovery to only 19% the morning of the 15th. By the morning of the 16th, the upper low to the SW of the fire had been absorbed by a larger-scale upper level trough that would dominate over the Pacific Northwest through the 19th. This meant a transition to more moist and progressive westerly flow. As a result, moderate to excellent morning relative humidity recoveries were seen from the 16th through the 19th ? with the aid of more seasonably cool daytime temperatures – critical afternoon RH?s (below 25%) were not again reached on the fire.

I got a couple of photos from others today. In this one…I’m doing an evening weather briefing to the team. As I was getting up to start, most all of them turned their hats backwards. …that’s the way mine usually is. When this photo was taken, I think I was in the process of telling them they were all getting demerits for their behavior.

Finally, the other day we did a team photo. This is just me, and the members of Washington Incident Management Team 2. So, it doesn’t include the hundreds of firefighters on the incident.

Sep 202007

My first wild bear…awwww. The FBAN and I saw this little fella scamper off the road as we were heading to the fire lookout on Mt. Tolman. He’s still got some growing to do. I’m told that they grow into their ears, and the tops of their heads get flat as they approach adulthood.

This is the fire lookout tower on top of Mt. Tolman (~4000 feet – 47?59’50.95″N, 118?45’48.05″W).

Striking a pose on the road to the lookout.

Looking east from on the lookout tower. That brown patch near the center of the photo is from where I took the photo of the helicopter doing the retardant drop the other day. The drop was being done just to the south of the tower…where there is still some smoldering today.

The afore-mentioned smoldering south of the tower.

This is just an altered version of the tower photo above. I’m using it as my desktop background.

Sep 192007

This is just a photo of the helicopter that I rode in the other day.

A tiny little bat snoozing above the door to where our offices are.

Another photo of me briefing. This is our plans meeting – the smallest group I brief.

Sep 182007

Pretty uneventful day today. High afternoon RH’s…and the fire is pretty much done for – at least as far as we’re concerned.

Tomorrow’s discussion…then a couple of photos:


After just a small chance of a shower this morning, it will be a little warmer and drier today across the area as an area of upper level low pressure pulls off to the south into northern California. Strong gusty north to northeast winds will be possible through the day today as high pressure at the surface tries to push into the northwest. A little warmer and drier on Thursday?with relative humidity expected to make it back down into the lower 20s again in some parts of the area.


The warmest day of the week will come on Friday, with some spots hitting the 80 degree mark. Some cooling on Saturday and Sunday as today?s upper level low begins to pass to our southeast. However, this cooling will be offset by the introduction of very dry air in the lower portions of the atmosphere. The result will be relative humilities in the teens across the area Saturday and Sunday.

They’re very serious about keeping this building clean, so I’ve been keeping my garbadge picked up. As requested…a photo of me doing a briefing.

Sep 172007

The FBAN (Don) and I, took a drive around portions of the fire today – focusing more on northern portions of the fire, where there was still some active fire as of this morning. There isn’t much left. As of last night, we were 80% contained…as of 2000 (8pm) today, we were 100%!

This tree nearly fell on someone’s car. We got there about 10 minutes after it happened…and then waited only a few minutes before someone with a chainsaw could get there. This road was closed after this, so that crews could “snag” the road. That essentially means, that they go up-and-down the road and make sure there aren’t any partially burned trees about to fall on the road (like this one)…and they take care of any that may.Chopper making a retardant drop on some hot spotsThis is a photo of the Columbia river that I took on our way to the fireline. The Grand Coulee Dam is just around the bend.We drove some pretty gnarly roads up to a spot where one of the FOBS (Fire Observer…I think) was stationed. A very nice view of some hot spots from there. That’s Don and the FOBS fella.The view to the northeast from the FOBS’s peak. We were at around 3700 feet I think.

Sep 152007

I’ve learned a couple of things in the past couple of days:

1. When you have a layover in Ontario, your flight originated in El Paso, and the leg to Ontario was only about 2 hours long – you’re not in Canada. There were French books at the airport for god’s sake!

2. No one here knows how to spell Manilla…er, Manila. It’s “Manilla” on the national situation report, it’s “Manila” on our products here on the fire. Google Earth will take you to a town called “Manila Creek” with a road called “Manilla Creek Road” running through it. Now, when I’m asked how to spell “Manil[l]a”, I just say, “yes”. As, apparently you can pick any way you’d like. Today: “Mannilla”.

I won’t stop learning there!

Things are going well here at camp. I’m set up in a community center building in Nespelem, WA. Internet is provided – so I didn’t have to screw around with our personal internet satellite thing – which is nice.

The fire didn’t move a whole lot today with light winds…things are set to change though. My short-term forecast discussion for tomorrow’s forecast:

An approaching cold front and an associated upper level trough will bring strong gusty winds to the fire this afternoon. Although still quite dry; this afternoon?s winds will accompany slightly higher relative humidity than was seen yesterday afternoon thanks to increasing clouds and cooler afternoon high temperatures. The cold front will slide across the area tonight, bringing a slight chance of rain showers overnight tonight and into Monday ? although a wetting rain is very unlikely. Even cooler temperatures on Monday will help keep minimum afternoon RH?s above 20 percent across the area.

My briefings are going great. I jumped in well after getting here so late last night.

The entrance to the building I’m in:

Where I work:

My laptop, is the one in the very center of the photograph. The Fire Behavior Analyst (FBAN) works at the desk directly to the right of that.

The meeting schedule is pretty hectic here. I present the weather at all of the ones with the “*”:

0600* – Morning Briefing

0830* – Aviation Briefing

0900 – NW Fire Coordination Call

1115 – Region 1 GACC Call

1200* – Plans Meeting/Lunch

1700* – Plans validation meeting

1800* – Night Shift Briefing

2000* – Team Meeting

Sep 132007

I leave tomorrow morning at 805am, for a fire called “Manilla Creek”. It’s in NE Washington state, about a 2.25 hour drive from Spokane, WA (where I’ll be flying into). Right now, the complex is 3,200 acres – pretty small – and is only 10% contained. I’ll be stationed near the town of Coulee Dam, WA, near the Grand Coulee Dam.

As always…there’s info in the National Interagency Coordination Center Incident Management Situation Report