Lightning Safety & Awareness Part 5

Lightning-sparked wildfires is a common occurrence in Colorado during the summer months, especially this year.  Read on to learn more about this phenomenon.

Lightning and Wildfires

COLORADO
LIGHTNING SAFETY AND WILDFIRE AWARENESS WEEK CONCLUDES WITH WILDFIRES BEING THE FINAL TOPIC.  ALTHOUGH WILDFIRES ARE NOT AN ACTUAL WEATHER PHENOMENON…WILDFIRES ARE DIRECTLY RELATED TO LIGHTNING AND OTHER WEATHER ELEMENTS.  

THE WILDFIRE THREAT IN COLORADO NORMALLY INCREASES SIGNIFICANTLY AFTER THE MIDDLE OF JUNE.  THIS THREAT USUALLY PEAKS IN EARLY JULY AND REMAINS HIGH THROUGH AUGUST AND EARLY SEPTEMBER.   DEPENDING ON CLIMATIC CONDITIONS…THE TIME OF YEAR FOR THE PEAK WILDFIRE THREAT CAN BE ABOUT A MONTH EARLIER OR LATER THAN NORMAL.  COLORADO AVERAGES ABOUT 2500 WILDFIRES EACH YEAR.  

ABOUT HALF OF ALL FOREST FIRES IN COLORADO ARE IGNITED BY LIGHTNING.  ADDITIONALLY …MANY RANGELAND AND WHEATFIELD FIRES ARE CAUSED BY LIGHTNING. MANY OF THESE LIGHTNING CAUSED WILDFIRES OCCUR IN THE ABSENCE OF RAIN.  WHEN THIS OCCURS…THE LIGHTNING IS COMMONLY REFERRED TO AS DRY LIGHTNING.  

GUSTY WINDS OFTEN ACCOMPANY THUNDERSTORMS WHICH PRODUCE DRY LIGHTNING.  THESE GUSTY WINDS ACCELERATE THE SPREAD OF FIRES.  THESE THUNDERSTORM WINDS CAN QUICKLY TURN SMOLDERING ORGANIC MATERIAL INTO A RAGING FIRE.  THUNDERSTORM WINDS TEND TO BE ERRATIC IN DIRECTION AND SPEED…POSING ONE OF THE GREATEST DANGERS FOR FIREFIGHTERS.  

LIGHTNING WHICH STRIKES THE GROUND IS USUALLY DIVIDED INTO TWO CATEGORIES… NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE STRIKES…DEPENDING ON THE IONIC SOURCE REGION OF THE THUNDERSTORM.  THE NEGATIVE STRIKES ARE FAR MORE COMMON THAN POSITIVE STRIKES.  THE POSITIVE STRIKES ARE MORE INTENSE AND HAVE A LONGER DURATION THAN THE NEGATIVE STRIKES AND ARE MORE LIKELY TO IGNITE A FIRE.  LIGHTNING DETECTION TECHNOLOGY PROVIDES LAND MANAGERS…FIREFIGHTERS…AND WEATHER FORECASTERS WITH THE ABILITY TO IDENTIFY THE GENERAL LOCATION AND CHARGE CATEGORY OF EACH LIGHTNING STRIKE WITHIN THE CONTINENTAL UNITED STATES.  

NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECASTERS HELP LAND MANAGERS AND FIREFIGHTERS BY PRODUCING FIRE WEATHER FORECASTS ON A DAILY BASIS DURING THE WARM SEASON.  SPOT FIRE WEATHER FORECASTS ARE ALSO PROVIDED FOR THOSE WHO WORK ON PRESCRIBED BURNS OR SPECIFIC WILDFIRES.  FORECASTERS ALSO ISSUE RED FLAG WARNINGS FOR USE BY LAND MANAGERS WHEN THE COMBINATION OF DRY VEGETATION AND CRITICAL WEATHER CONDITIONS WILL RESULT IN A HIGH POTENTIAL FOR THE DEVELOPMENT AND SPREAD OF WILDFIRES.  LAND MANAGERS…IN TURN…TYPICALLY INFORM THE GENERAL PUBLIC OF THE FIRE DANGER IN NATIONAL PARKS…FORESTS…AND OTHER PUBLIC LANDS.  

DURING PERIODS OF EXTREME FIRE DANGER IN FORESTS AND RANGELANDS...  

...YOU SHOULD AVOID BEING IN AREAS WHERE YOU MIGHT BECOME TRAPPED BY A WILDFIRE.  

...YOU SHOULD AVOID THE USE OF MATCHES OR ANYTHING ELSE WHICH COULD IGNITE A FIRE. 

 ...MAKE SURE THAT HOT PARTS OF MOTORIZED EQUIPMENT…SUCH AS MUFFLERS…ARE NOT ALLOWED TO COME IN CONTACT WITH DRY GRASSES OR OTHER POTENTIALLY FLAMMABLE MATERIAL. 

...MAKE SURE THAT HOT PARTS OF MOTORIZED EQUIPMENT…SUCH AS MUFFLERS…ARE NOT ALLOWED TO COME IN CONTACT WITH DRY GRASSES OR OTHER POTENTIALLY FLAMMABLE MATERIAL. 

 ...MAKE SURE THAT HOT PARTS OF MOTORIZED EQUIPMENT…SUCH AS MUFFLERS…ARE NOT ALLOWED TO COME IN CONTACT WITH DRY GRASSES OR OTHER POTENTIALLY FLAMMABLE MATERIAL.  

IF YOU BECOME TRAPPED OR CUT OFF BY A WILDFIRE…SEEK SHELTER IN AREAS WITH LITTLE OR NO FUEL…SUCH AS ROCK SLIDE AREAS OR LAKES.  

FOR MORE INFORMATION ON WILDFIRES AND FIRE SAFETY, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE FOLLOWING WEB ADDRESSES:


HTTP://FIRE.BOI.NOAA.GOV


HTTP://WWW.NIFC.GOV/PREVED/INDEX.HTML


WWW.DOLA.STATE.CO.US/OEM/PUBLICINFORMATION/WILDFIRE.HTM

AM Meteorologist Branden Borremans

Read More Blogs

You must be logged in to post comments.

Username:
Password (case sensitive):
Remember Me:

Read Comments

Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Brian Location: Weather Center on Jul 21, 2008 at 09:28 PM
    Thanks for reading our blog Kay. Many people don't respect lightning the way they should. That is why we try to educate people about the danger, every single year. Just this past week, 7 people were struck while seeking shelter under a tree, during a thunderstorm. Common lightning safety sense tells one not to do this. Lightning loves tall objects, metal objects, and water. It is crazy to think that many people don't know this. Again, thanks for reading and I am glad you appreciated the information.
  • by Kay Location: Walsenburg, CO on Jul 21, 2008 at 07:42 AM
    Excellent, comprehensive articles! I hope many folks read these...they contain a wealth of info about lightning which I'm sure most folks are not aware. I thought I was pretty well versed on the subject, but I learned many new crucial facts. Thanks so much.
KKTV 520 E. Colorado Colorado Springs, CO 80903 Office: (719) 634-2844 Fax: (719) 632-0808 News Fax: (719) 634-3741
Copyright © 2002-2016 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability
Gray Television, Inc.