Fri, 21 Oct 2022 08:56:50 CDT
Statewide Discussion: A Red Flag Warning is in effect today from midday through the early evening hours across a broad area of Oklahoma. Above normal temperatures and low relative humidity values coupled with stout southwest winds over very dry, receptive fuels will support moderate to rapid rates of fire spread on wildfires that become established. Similar conditions are expected for Saturday although some gulf moisture is expected to shift into southeastern Oklahoma moderating relative humidity values a bit although higher wind speeds will continue to support rapid rates of fire spread. Sunday, winds will intensify across the state with the strongest fire environment alignment in northwestern Oklahoma and the eastern half of the Oklahoma Panhandle. Rain chances have improved for the Monday through Tuesday period as a cold front approaches the area.
With drought influence, Energy Release Component has remained at or above the 90th percentile across the eastern third and across northern Oklahoma where separation from a 0.25” rainfall has topped 80 days in some areas. Wildfires have been exhibiting resistance to control efforts and strengthening winds will result in increased suppression difficulty. Brush and timber fuels will readily exhibit problematic fire behavior including single/group tree torching and potential for moderate range spotting. Areas where pine and juniper are prevalent will have elevated potential for extreme fire behavior observations.
Eastern 1/3rd of Oklahoma: Today, temperature will warm into the mid- to upper-80°’s under clear to mostly-clear skies with afternoon relative humidity values 18%-29% yielding fine-dead fuel moisture at 4% north to 5% south. Southwest winds sustained 11-20 mph with gusts over 25 mph this afternoon will drive very rapid rates of fire spread in grass-dominated fuels and problematic fire behavior in timber and brush fuels. Un-grazed grass fuels will exhibit head fire rates of spread 95-190 ft/min (1.1-2.2 mph) with flame lengths 14-19 ft. Timber-litter ROS will push 40 ft/min in peak burning conditions with both timber and brush fuels exhibiting torching and spotting. On Saturday, afternoon relative humidity values are expected to hold above critical levels although persistently dry fuels and potential for stronger winds will hold fire behavior expectations similar to those observed today.
Central 1/3rd Oklahoma: The northern counties fall within the current Warned Area while the southern counties will see fire weather inputs just below the critical thresholds. Nonetheless, any fire that becomes established will exhibit potential for moderate to rapid rates of spread and resistance to control. Today, temperature will top out in the upper 80°’s, potentially tapping 90°, with relative humidity values as low as 16% on the OK/KS border to 22% on the Red River. Fine-dead fuel moisture values will be as low as 3% north with 4% observation prevalent across the area. Southwest winds (strongest north) sustained 13-21 mph with gusts nearing 30 mph will drive grassland rates of spread at 123-228 ft/min (1.4-2.5 mph) with head fire flame lengths 12-19 ft. Where juniper and brush are in the mix, expect single/group tree torching and short crown runs with spotting. Dry conditions persist into Saturday although relative humidity values may not dip quite as low as observations today. Similar fire behavior should be anticipated.
Western Oklahoma / Oklahoma Panhandle: Fine-dead fuel moisture at 3% will be prevalent across the Panhandle and western counties today yielding very receptive fuels. Temperature ranging from 81° in the western Panhandle to near 90° in southwest Oklahoma and relative humidity values 10-19% are expected today and similarly tomorrow. Southwest winds today sustained will be strongest across western Oklahoma with sustained winds 16-22 mph and some gusts nearing 35 mph – less concerning winds in the Panhandle. Rangeland fuels will exhibit head fire rates of spread 135-240 ft/min (+/-2.1 mph). Similar conditions are forecasted for Saturday with increased winds across the Panhandle counties.
Near-Term: Near-critical to critical fire weather over unseasonably dry fuels today and Saturday will lead into Sunday when very strong winds overspread Oklahoma ahead of rain chances and cooler temperatures next week. Initial attack activity is expected to increase over the next few days with large fire (>300 acres) potential a concern. Alignment in the fire environment on Sunday will place emphasis in northwestern and Panhandle counties where significant fire potential will exist for a time in the burning period. Early fire behavior analytics points to potential for rates of spread around 300 ft/min or +/- 3.4 mph. Fire weather conditions moderate as a cold front edges into the area on Monday with improving rain chances in the current forecast.
NE Area – 1 Fire Burned 2 Acres (Cause: 1-Structure)
EC Area – No Ne Activity
SE Area – 2 Fires Burned 8 Acres (Cause: 2-Incendiary)
Large / Significant Fire Activity within the OFS Protection Area:
• Bethel Fire (McCurtain County) – 3,600 Acres (est.) / 1 Structure, 90% Contained
• Williams Fire (McCurtain County) – 463 Acres, 100% Contained
Fire Activity with OFS Response outside of the Protection Area: No New Activity
OFS Prescribed Fire Activity: No New Activity
Fire Department Statistics: Moderate Initial Attack Activity