Wildfires - July 2006


Wildland fire activity was above normal during July, continuing the anomalous activity since the beginning of 2006. Fires affected many parts of the western half of the country during the month as well as in the western half of Canada. Smoke and reduced visibilities are major impacts of the fires. A large smoke plume from a Washington wildfire was graphically depicted by a satellite image.

As of August 1st, there were almost 71,000 wildland fires across the Lower 48 States since the beginning of 2006, and over 5.6 million acres were burned, 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 August Nationwide Number of Fires Nationwide Number of Acres Burned
8/8/2006 73,193 5,905,804
8/8/2005 39,896 5,005,845
8/8/2004 50,211 5,573,271
8/8/2003 38,080 1,899,486
8/8/2002 54,376 4,727,730
8/8/2001 56,004 1,617,427
8/8/2000 63,623 4,034,362

Dead fuel moisture levels remained very dry in July. The 10–hour fuel moisture levels on July 31st were extremely dry, with the observed levels below 5% across a swath from California to the Dakotas.

Medium to larger fuels (i.e., the July 31st 100–hr and July 31st 1000–hr fuel moistures) also remained unusually dry over the past month, especially from northern California to the Dakotas.

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. in the South from Texas to Georgia by the end of the month. In addition, the observed experimental fire potential index at the end of July was anomalously high for one large area from southern California northward to Washington and Idaho and for another large area in central and eastern Montana and Wyoming and the western Dakotas.

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


Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Wildfires for July 2006, published online August 2006, retrieved on October 23, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/2006/7.