Natural Disasters: Fires

The Santa Ana winds are assisting blazes in the destruction of homes in Los Angeles County (read AP story HERE). Back in May, I started a post about wildfires and the latest fire news coming out of Southern California made this a good time to revisit these hot natural disaster.

The first thing I wanted to look at was the Santa Ana winds. Those are dry drainage winds that develop from high air pressure in higher altitudes. In this case it's the area of the Sierra Nevada and the Rocky Mountains. When upper level winds are favorable, these built up air masses spill out of the Great Basin and zip toward the southern California coastline. A lot of times the reason that the winds are dry is due to their descent from the higher desert elevations to the lower coastline elevations, not because they're coming from the desert per se.

These dry winds plus the cause of the fire (arson, lightening, etc.) are what essentially plagues the Los Angeles region on an annual basis. I found a couple of interesting resources.

  • First, there's this active fire map PDF of California that you can check out. Be patient because it takes a while to load. This is a neat map because although it shows you the current fires, it also shows you areas where fires have burned in the past. I thought that was telling. Before seeing this map I never realized quite how many fires burn in northern California, too.
  • There's also an active fires map from the Forest Service's Remote Sensing Applications Center. This is cool because it gives you updates on how big the fire is, how many acres it has destroyed and what percentage of it has been contained. It's updated every Friday.
  • For the absolute latest news on wildfires all over the United States, check out the National Interagency Fire Center. They have the latest news, maps and images on wildfires all over the nation.
  • Finally, there's a whole boatload of resources from ye ol' Resource Shelf. Looks like a lot of the stuff was from last years wildfire debacle.

Be safe out there!

No comments: