Session 10.4 A meteorological composite of the 2005/06 wildfire outbreaks in the Southern Plains

Thursday, 25 October 2007: 2:00 PM
The Turrets (Atlantic Oakes Resort)
T. Todd Lindley, NOAA/NWSFO, Lubbock, TX; and J. L. Guyer, G. P. Murdoch, S. R. Nagle, K. Schneider, and G. Skwira

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The 2005/06 cold season was characterized by extreme drought and historic wildfires over the Southern Plains. Particularly large fires threatened life and property over portions of New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas during six widespread outbreak events. The most destructive wildfire outbreaks occurred on 27 December 2005, 1 January 2006, 12 January 2006, 12 March 2006, 6 April 2006, and 15 April 2006. Fires during each of these events scorched tens of thousands to over a million acres of prairie. Hundreds of structures were destroyed, and damages totaled nearly $150 million in economic loss. Five of the six outbreaks resulted in human casualties. These catastrophic fire weather episodes occurred in weather patterns that featured: 1) the passage of progressive middle latitude cyclones and associated wind maxima over the Southern Plains, 2) intense cyclogenesis over Kansas, and 3) deep mixing of the planetary boundary layer coincident with volatile fuels and ambient drought conditions west of a surface dryline. This study utilizes 2100 UTC Rapid Update Cycle analyses of middle and upper tropospheric geopotential heights and winds, mean sea level pressure, 10 m winds, and 2 m relative humidity from each case to produce a meteorological composite of the 2005/06 Southern Plains wildfire outbreaks.
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