Wildfires - February 2013


Updated: 07 March 2013

Number of Fires & Acres burned in February (2000-2013)
Number of fires & acres burned in February 2000-2013
Acres burned per fire in February (2000-2013)
Acres burned per fire in February 2000-2013

Overview

February is not considered to be part of the national-scale wildfire season, with fire activity typically being slow during the month. The monthly number of acres burned of 12,432 acres was the least for February in the 14-year record. Likewise, the year-to-date number of acres burned (21,005 acres) was the least for any January through February period since 2000. The average fire size of 6.1 acres during December 2012–February 2013 ranked as the least for a winter season in the 2000-2013 record. Isolated large wildfires flared across the southeastern U.S. during the month. Santa Ana winds bolstered a wildfire in southern California at month's end.

1-Month Wildfire Statistics*
February Totals Rank
(out of 14 years)
Record 2000-2010
Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 12,432 14ᵗʰ Most 214,183 2008 81,190
Least on Record
Number of Fires 1,340 13ᵗʰ Most 8,226 2011 3,787
2ⁿᵈ Least
Acres Burned per Fire 9.3 11ᵗʰ Most 48.1 2008 20.0
4ᵗʰ Least
3-Month Wildfire Statistics*
December–February Totals Rank
(out of 14 years)
Record 2000-2010
Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 86,366 12ᵗʰ Most 682,147 2008 311,619
2ⁿᵈ Least
Number of Fires 14,064 2ⁿᵈ Most 15,710 2011 9,207
12ᵗʰ Least
Acres Burned per Fire 6.1 13ᵗʰ Most 55.5 2006 31.1
Least on Record
Year-to-Date Wildfire Statistics*
January–February Totals Rank
(out of 14 years)
Record 2000-2010
Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 21,005 14ᵗʰ Most 411,011 2006 134,931
Least on Record
Number of Fires 2,304 13ᵗʰ Most 9,752 2011 5,571
2ⁿᵈ Least
Acres Burned per Fire 9.1 12ᵗʰ Most 69.2 2006 22.4
3ʳᵈ Least

*Data Source: The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)

Discussion

U.S. Drought Monitor map from 26 February 2013
U.S. Drought Monitor map from 26 February 2013
Source: National Drought Mitigation Center

Despite a powerful storm passage across the Southeast in late January, the southern areas of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi experienced expanding drought conditions in early February. Ample rains continued through the rest of the month bringing improvements from Louisiana to South Carolina, except along the Georgia and Florida border, where dryness increased. February wildfire activity coincided with the dry areas of the Southeast. An expansion of drought in southern Texas resulted from dryness coupled with above-normal temperatures and wind. From mid-month onward, California's drought conditions expanded to the north of Los Angeles, while dryness developed along the northern coast. California experienced its fifth driest February since 1895, leading to wildfire occurrences in the southern half of state in late February. Areas across Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas received heavy snowfalls (up to a foot or more) as two winter storms produced blizzard conditions in the Plains. The precipitation was beneficial in short-term improvement to drought anchored over the central United States.

Significant Events

Please note, this is a list of select fires that occurred during February. More comprehensive fire information can be found through Inciweb.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma Prescribed Burn on 25 February 2013
Oklahoma Prescribed Burn on 25 February 2013
Source: National Park Service

The U.S. Forest Service leveraged favorable February weather conditions to conduct a series of prescribed burns around the Chickasaw National Recreation Area in south-central Oklahoma. The fires concluded the final phase of a $1.4 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project begun in 2010. Nearly 2,400 acres were involved in the reduction of Oklahoma's eastern red cedar during the month. This tree species is extremely invasive and impairs local air quality by producing allergens. Thinning eastern red cedar reduces the impacts of smoke from wildfires in the future. The areas burned will return to their natural state of mosaic grasses and savanna, with a combination of grassland and woodland in which trees are widely scattered. Native grasses are highly adaptive to Oklahoma's climate and will withstand future fire and drought. The benefits of the project were to open up views around the park, improve wildlife habitat, reduce wildfire hazards, conserve water in the Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer, and reduce pollen levels.


Monthly Wildfire Conditions

Wildfire information and environmental conditions are provided by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS).

Wildfire occurrences coincided well with areas of high to extreme fire weather risk reflected on the Observed Fire Danger Class maps during the month. At February's outset, wildfires sparked in Alabama and Georgia, while a few incidents lingered in eastern Oklahoma and the Florida Panhandle since late January. Across the southeastern U.S., the 10-hour fuel moistures were 10 percent or less, with eastern North Carolina, southern Georgia, and much of Florida having values between 7 and 8 percent. In southern Alabama, the Red Fox wildfire scorched 240 acres in Calcedeaver over February 3rd–4th, while the Pine Needle wildfire consumed 100 acres between January 29th and February 4th. In southeastern Georgia, a wildfire burned 102 acres of timber and hardwoods near Waycross from February 5th to 12th.


At mid-month, wildfires erupted across the Florida Peninsula, Alabama, eastern Oklahoma, and along the Texas Gulf. In Florida, the wildfires coincided with the dryness across the eastern half of the state, where the Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) values exceeded 600 units. In northeastern Florida, the Check Station Road wildfire burned around 460 acres of southern rough fuels (flammable evergreen shrubs) near Astor within the Ocala National Forest. The Clear-Cut wildfire charred close to 900 acres near Naples in the southern part of the state between February 12th and 26th, fueled by timber litter. In Alabama, the King's Landing wildfire destroyed 350 acres from February 18th to 20th. Parts of New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma experienced 10-hour fuel moistures of eight percent or less, with Far West Texas dropping below five percent. In southeast Texas, the Sargent Ranch wildfire blazed nearly 1,760 acres between February 15th–17th. In Oklahoma, the Vivian Cemetery wildfire engulfed 1,260 acres from February 18th to 20th, while the Blue Mountain wildfire consumed 320 acres between February 17th and 19th.


At the end of February, extremely low 10-hour fuel moistures of four percent of less existed in the Southwest border from Far West Texas to southeastern California. Likewise, the fuel moistures at the 100-hour (at 10 percent and below) and 1000-hour intervals (at 15 percent and below) were relatively low for the same locations. Gusty winds and thick brush fueled the River wildfire as it scorched over 400 acres of Inyo County's high desert Lone Pine area in east-central California during February 24th–28th. The blaze injured two people. Santa Ana winds fanned a wildfire, which spread rapidly through over 310 acres in the Jurupa Valley from February 28th to March 3rd. After jumping the Santa Ana River into the city of Riverside, the fire burned palm trees along residential streets, threatening homes and a sewage treatment facility. The fire damaged two structures and produced huge plumes of smoke, according to media accounts. More than 1,800 residents lost power when the fire knocked down utility lines.


All Fire Related Maps


Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Wildfires for February 2013, published online March 2013, retrieved on July 22, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/2013/2.