Fire Season.

firesTonight’s dire weather related story on the evening news was on the fires in the west.  Brian Williams on NBC made it sound like this year’s fires are worse than normal.

However, like so many things recently, it ain’t quite as bad as it seems.  In fact, the acreage burned this year, so far, is less than 1/3 of the year-to-date average over the last 10 years.

Yes, it’s tragic for those affected, directly and indirectly, by the fires.  However, like so many other stories, it seems that subtle exaggeration is used to make the story more interesting and scary — cuz when you tell interesting and scary stories, more people are gonna watch, more people will see the ads, and the ratings will… 

In 2007, we delayed traveling to western Wyoming and Montana because of the fire situation.  This fire year is nothing compared to 2007… or 2008, 2009, 2010, or, the worst in the last 10 years, 2011.

Current national wildland fire information and forecasts are available online in places like the website of the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC).

By the year-to-date statistics, 2013 is, so far, a below normal year in both the number of fires and the acreage burned. In fact, it’s the lowest year in the 10 year record:

2013 (1/1/13 – 6/19/13) Fires: 20,180 Acres: 538,884
10-year average (Jan 1 to June 19):
2004-2013 Fires: 34,206 Acres: 1,695,900

Current Fire Season Outlook

In its first 2013 fire outlook that extends through the summer months, the National Interagency Fire Center’s (NIFC) Predictive Services unit is forecasting above normal potential for significant fire activity in the West Coast states, the Southwest, and portions of Idaho and Montana. The potential in most of the rest of the country is expected to be normal or, in the case of much of the South, below normal.




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