Major fires in Texas panhandle

There are 2 fires that have been raging out of control all day in the panhandle. 1 started just east of Borger and the other just east of Groom.

6 towns including Skellytown, Lefors, Wheeler, Mobeetie, Old Mobeetie, and Miami are under manditory evacuation orders. I-40 has been shut down from Groom to the state line. There was a multiple car pileup east of Groom due to smoke involving at least 10 vehicles with at least 4 fatalities and 2 more fatilities near Borger. Both fires are still totally out of control with winds of 40+ fueling them.

You can see the smoke plumes on radar and satellite.
 
What an insane dryline. 81/63 in Ada and 80/11 in Wichita Falls.
 
I was going to mention something about all that smoke showing up on the vis today....too busy watching the action on the moist side of the dryline though.
 
Been quite a few down here in the Lubbock area too Jay, although I have as yet been unable to ascertain the extent of it. I know west of Levelland there were a couple of significant fires, and there was a huge fire that has been ongoing since before noon around Lovington, NM.

This has been the worst dust storm we have had since that one in December in 2003 I think it was.
 
I went out and shot a little bit of one of the smaller fires at a local cotton gin. I wanted to head out to some of the bigger fires, but I had other pressing work that had to get finished.

I did a shot of the spinning anemometer at the end. Winds were sustained around 40 when I shot that gusting higher. Note that the cups are blurred and then appear to go backwards they are spinning so fast!

http://wx5tvs.com/stormtrack/duststorm.wmv

It's about 5 megs. Sorry some of it's blurry. I forgot I had my wide angle lens on and was zooming in! :shock: Listen to the wind!
 
Even on TWC there is a Special Weather Statement concerning the smoke and dust from Texas coming into W/SW OK. Must be pretty bad out that way.
 
Latest news is new manditory evacuations for McClean and voluntary evacuations for north side of Pampa. Fatalities are up to 7 now and over 200, 000 acres near borger and over 500,000 acres near groomhave burned with all fires still totally out of control. Dozens of structures have been destroyed. total acres burned with all fires is close to 1,000,000 so far!!!

westbound traffic is being diverted south from I-40 to Childress then back west on 287. I-40 is still closed from From to shamrock
 
Coming back in from Tulsa tonight, chased the storm that blew up around Seminole and booked NE...could just see the haze over the City coming down 44. Here in Norman the smell of smoke just really kicked in and it is VERY strong. Good luck to everyone out there. The vis images Norman has on their website really tell the tale on how massive these are.
 
Here in the city of Duncan, OK. the local Office of Emergency Management has broke into television programming advising citizens NOT to call 911 about the smoke unless the actually see a fire.
The 911 call center is flooded with calls about the "fires" in Duncan.
Smoke is quite thick, like fog here. Almost to the point where it makes it hard to breathe.
 
It was a close call for my parents home in Lefors, TX. Go to my blog to read more on these widfires and see some cool video.
 
It has cooled off EXTENSIVELY here in the Lubbock area by about half of this afternoon's high. And even worse, we have some negative numbers in the dewpoints! Does that mean we OWE mother nature some moisture now? :shock: It's still pretty gusty outside too.
 
Coming back in from Tulsa tonight, chased the storm that blew up around Seminole and booked NE...could just see the haze over the City coming down 44. Here in Norman the smell of smoke just really kicked in and it is VERY strong. Good luck to everyone out there. The vis images Norman has on their website really tell the tale on how massive these are.

I noticed the smoke as I drove out of the west side of Tulsa, heading back to OUN. It was thick all the way back to OKC, and it still REAKS of wildfires outside now.
 
As of Monday morning..

Some fires in the east panhandle still out of control. More fires expected today ofcourse but winds wont be near as bad at 15-20.

The fire near Borger was 200,000 acres and cost 3 lives. the Groom Fire was 500,000 acres and cost 4 lives. There were numerous other fires including near amarillo, childress, and Lubbock with a total from the texas wildfire dept. at around 1 million acres. The nearly 700,000 acres in the 2 big fires alone is the biggest fire outbreak in texas history and is 2/3 the size of Rgode island. Latest from CNN.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/03/13/wi...s.ap/index.html

New fires have already started this morning on the NE side of Amarillo..here we go again.
 
Tuesday Update....

The 2 largest fires are now about 50% contained but some areas are still out of control. Miami is still under evacuation. The weather today will help with cooler temps and low winds of 10-15 but late this evening ans especially tomorrow the winds come screaming back. On wednesday we expect Red Flag conditions again with winds of 30-40 with higher gusts so if we dont get it under control today we may lose total control tomorrow.

A number of firemen have been hurt including 1 critically when his firetruck rolled down an embankment.

Now the bad news. 4 more bodied has been found bringing the death toll to 11. these were found in a burned car north of Miami in a ravene. Tanker planes are making non stop water drops and we have fire crews from all over including a few other states.

One thing nobody is really talking about is this is mostly ranchland for cattle so grazing grass is now gone for some time and many of the cattle in the area died in the fire. The estimate of acttle in the area is 25,000 and the estimate of how many died is anywhere from 10,000 up to 15,000 according to 1 rancher on tv not to mention basic wildlife (deer, rabbits etc..). This is a major Deer hunting area and it will hurt the season badly.

My group was only called out yesterday for a fire on the NE side of Amarillo but we have been told to be ready to respond on wednesday when they expect another very bad day. I already told my boss I may have to leave with little warning time. Next chance of rain is Friday night into the weekend but its a small chance.
 
After the front came through several hours ago there was the distinctive smell of smoke in Tyler TX.
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I'm just 40 miles down the road from you. I emptied my rain gauge yesterday morning and saw that the water was BROWN (sort of between tan and brown). I figured that some dust from around here got into it, but thought that there might have been a link with the fires.

Wish I would have taken a pic of it!

Tim
 
I'm just 40 miles down the road from you. I emptied my rain gauge yesterday morning and saw that the water was BROWN (sort of between tan and brown). I figured that some dust from around here got into it, but thought that there might have been a link with the fires.

Wish I would have taken a pic of it!

Tim
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Whats a rain gauge??? forgot what they look like. ;)

We have had less than an inch of rain on over 7 months now. And now that the grass is gone we have trully returned to the days of the dustbowl. I have a feeling this spring and summer as the dryline sweps east into oklahoma chasing will be difficult due to the brown haze of dirt in the air from the panhandle. Sortof like back in 1998 when we had the Mexican fire haze covering Texas and oklahoma. Couldnt see a supercell 30 miles away!!
 
The charred bodies of four oilfield workers were found a short distance from their car. A cow that had tried to push through a barbed wire fence was discovered burned alive. And 10,000 other cattle and horses were feared dead across the smoking landscape.

At least 11 people have died and 1,900 others have been forced to evacuate since the weekend. The fires, propelled by winds as high as 55 mph, have raced across more than 1,000 square miles.[/b]

http://kcbd.com/Global/story.asp?S=4633240
 
You would figure that with the fire still burning out of control and the damage to all the areas involved including the loss of human life that the governor would call out for more help. Using the National Guard and other government resources is within the power of the Governor of Texas.
Here in southern OK we have been dealing with our own fire and I know what kind of toll it has taken on the volunteers and equipment.
I just can't imagine what the firefighters in Texas must be going through and feeling at this point.
I hope they can get it under control soon.
 
Thats a very sad thing about this fire in that it's having a tremendous toll on humans (physically,financially, and emotionally) and animals alike. Prairie wildfires are just as much a part of nature as forest fires, but any fire that exists in the conditions that setup Sunday were bound to be historical and tragic. This fire will probably have a lasting effect into spring as bare charred ground heats up loads quicker than one that has vegetation covering it. The burn area is in that famous tornado alley zone of the TX Panhandle too...an area which I love to chase and enjoy the scenery/wildlife too. My prayers are with those in the TX Panhandle dealing with this tragic loss.
 
You would figure that with the fire still burning out of control and the damage to all the areas involved including the loss of human life that the governor would call out for more help. Using the National Guard and other government resources is within the power of the Governor of Texas.
Here in southern OK we have been dealing with our own fire and I know what kind of toll it has taken on the volunteers and equipment.
I just can't imagine what the firefighters in Texas must be going through and feeling at this point.
I hope they can get it under control soon.
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Actually we have tons of help coming in. Amarillo is now a staging area for 350 firemen and we now have 26 air tankers dropping water and retardent thanks to the forest service. No national guard yet but we think we are prepared for today and have crews relieving those volunteer crews who have gone for days without much of a break. DPS has brought in extra officers to help traffic control in the area also. Utilities are also bringing in crews from other states to help get power restored.

What we really need is rain which we actually have a shot at this weekend.
 
That is good to hear. Firefighters are usually under appreciated but with times like this it shows just how much people rely on them.
 
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