211 Weather and Fire Occurrence During the Last Decade in Missouri

Monday, 7 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Karl F. Ronning, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO; and R. H. Cutter and A. R. Lupo

A recent study examining the dew points across the Missouri region demonstrated that there was a significant increase in atmospheric moisture over the region in the last 60 years. The study also demonstrated strong variability in this quantity related to El Nino and Southern Oscillation. In this study the occurrence of fire events across Missouri was examined using the National Centers for Atmospheric Research – National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCAR/NCEP) reanalyses for atmospheric quantities and fire data which was acquired from the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). These data describe the occurrence of fire as well as acreage burned. While most fires in this region have a human cause, the antecedent background conditions can influence how many of these fires burn large acreage. It is shown here that spring and summer seasons following the winter La Nina peak are most vulnerable. This study will also demonstrate that there are favorable synoptic conditions for more widespread fire occurrence. A surface high pressure to the east of our region associated with a strong south-southwesterly flow burned the most acreage across the state. This was generally accompanied by a strong upper air ridge over the central United States.
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