Wildfires - June 2006


Wildland fire activity was above normal during June, continuing the anomalous activity since the beginning of 2006. Fires continued to affect parts of the Southwest during the month, while activity developed in northern California, western Nevada and southern Oregon. Smoke and reduced visibilities are major impacts of the fires. The Gila National Forest, New Mexico wildfire produced a large smoke plume that is graphically depicted by a satellite image.

There have been over 61,000 wildland fires across the Lower 48 States since the beginning of 2006, with large fire activity focused in the Plains, the Southwest and the Florida peninsula. As of July 9th, over 4 million acres have burned across the U.S., according to estimates from the National Interagency Fire Center. Of the total acreage, approximately 2 million acres have burned in the Southern Area (which encompasses 13 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia).

2006 Wildfire Statistics (from NIFC):
Totals as of early July Nationwide Number of Fires Nationwide Number of Acres Burned
7/9/2006 61,418 4,002,383
7/9/2005 31,632 3,006,282
7/9/2004 40,646 2,989,977
7/9/2003 29,125 993,934
7/9/2002 45,617 3,155,402
7/9/2001 43,693 1,240,789
7/9/2000 51,342 2,207,704

Dead fuel moisture levels remained very dry in June. The 10–hour fuel moisture levels on June 29th were extremely dry, with the observed levels below 5% across parts of the High Plains and Southwest states.

Medium to larger fuels (i.e., the June 29th 100-hr and June 29th 1000–hr fuel moistures) also remained unusually dry over the past month, especially across New Mexico, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and eastern Montana.

The Keetch–Byram Drought Index (KBDI), a widely used index for fire risk, had the largest potential for wildland fire activity in the contiguous U.S. across the Southwest to Florida by the end of the month. In addition, the observed experimental fire potential index at the end of June was anomalously high for a large area of the Southwest northward into Colorado and Wyoming.

For further information on drought conditions across the U.S. go to the June drought summary page.


Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Wildfires for June 2006, published online July 2006, retrieved on October 31, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/2006/6.