Wildfires - October 2003


SPECIAL FEATURE: California Fires in October

Large wildfires broke out in southern California and especially San Bernardino County and just east of San Diego during late October 2003. Numerous fatalities and over 3500 structures were destroyed in the fires, several of which continued to burn at the end of the month. Dry conditions, Santa Ana winds and large amounts of available fuel (eg. dead and dormant vegetation) combined to destroy over half a million acres in this outbreak. Conditions that assisted firefighters, including higher humidity, cooler temperatures and some rain occurred during the first couple of days of November. More satellite images of the fires.
The largest fire since 1932 in California, the Cedar Fire in San Diego County, was part of this outbreak and alone, consumed over 250,000 acres.

October 2003 Fire Statistics (From NIFC)

As of October 29 Nationwide Number of Fires Nationwide Number of Acres Burned
2003 56,036 3,511,752
2002 69, 413 6,684,556
2001 67,604 3,129,916
10-year Average 75,319 4,320,285

Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Wildfires for October 2003, published online November 2003, retrieved on April 20, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/2003/10.