1/3/06 Tuesday: Fire Weather Discussion

Red Flag Warnings up across most of OK and parts of TX this afternoon, as a low to the north lead to relatively strong downslope winds across the area. Temps have shot up like a rocket this morning in much of OK (temps in western OK were pretty high this morning since the winds stayed up there overnight). Temps are currently in the low-mid 70s in eastern and central OK, and temps have breached the 80 degree mark in western OK and into TX. RH values are largely <22% in the western 2/3rds of Oklahoma, and have dropped to 10% in some locations in northwestern OK. Winds are not as strong as we had Sunday, largely in the 15-20mph sustained range in the central 1/3 of OK, but they increase to the 30-35mph range (with gusts above 40mph) across nw OK and the eastern panhandle.

http://www.mesonet.org/public/safety.html

There was a small fire across in nw OKC about an hour ago, but nothing much since. There is a large smoke plume evident on the Vance AFB / KVNX radar in extreme southeastern Harper county / northern Woodward county attm, or with an origin about 15 miles north of Woodward. OUN / GOES IR imagery is also indicating a fire in Beaver County (OK panhandle).

This thread should serve as fire weather discussions (ongoing fires, weather conditions, etc) for today across the southern plains.

EDIT: Smoke from the fire N of WWD is evident on vis satellite now:
wwdsmokeplume.png


fxc_Regional_Weather.jpg
 
Not as many active fires being reported or that I can see as past days. Media is reporting a fire near Stroud, and another in e.c. Seminole county. The smoke plume from the fire north of WWD has dissipated, but KVNX is starting to pick up smoke from the fire in Beaver county. KAMA could see the smoke plume from the fire in Wheeler county while that radar was in VCP31, but they switched it back to VCP32 (lower sensitivity) a couple of hours ago. Otherwise, just a few smaller fires near Newcastle and in nw OKC. All of my obs have come from media reports, radar, and NWS info.

Oklahoma Mesonet observations indicating RH in the 7-9% range now in nw OK and the eastern panhandle. This area is also seeing the highest winds (gusting >35-40mph). RH is <20% across much of western and central OK as well, but winds are weaker, generally near 20mph with gusts to 35mph in the west to 10-15mph with gusts to 25mph in the central portions of the state. I have to think that the fires today have not been as widespread owing largely to the weaker winds. Portions of central and sc OK aren't even meeting the red flag warning wind criterion. However, with dewpoint deficits >60F, incredibly low RH, warm temps, and strong winds (primarily western OK and westward) continue to support extreme fire weather conditions.

EDIT: It looks like things are starting to pick up, unfortunately. There's a larger fire in Shamrock / Drumright, and KTLX appears to be picking up a smoke plume between Newcastle and Blanchard now (not too far from the location of the small fire out there earlier this afternoon). One of the media folks mentioned that the Beaver county fire has spread into Harper county.
 
Saw the large plume from the Newcastle fire driving south along I44/240 in the metro. Pretty impressive, although it tapered off by the time I reached I35. Wish I had the camera with!

Aaron
 
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