Wildfires - February 2012


Updated: 7 March 2012


Overview

February is not considered to be part of the U.S. wildfire season, with fire activity typically being slow during the month. February 2012 was below average in terms of the number of fires and acreage burned, with 3,329 fires burning approximately 29,737 acres.

1-Month Wildfire Statistics*
February Totals Rank
(out of 13 years)
Record 2000-2010
Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 29,737 11ᵗʰ Most 214,183 2008 81,190
3ʳᵈ Least
Number of Fires 3,239 8ᵗʰ Most 8,226 2011 3,787
6ᵗʰ Least
Acres Burned per Fire 9.2 11ᵗʰ Most 48.1 2008 20.0
3ʳᵈ Least
3-Month Wildfire Statistics*
December–February Totals Rank
(out of 13 years)
Record 2000-2010
Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 304,312 6ᵗʰ Most 682,147 2008 311,619
7ᵗʰ Least
Number of Fires 12,494 2ⁿᵈ Most 15,710 2011 9,207
11ᵗʰ Least
Acres Burned per Fire 24.4 8ᵗʰ Most 55.5 2006 31.1
5ᵗʰ Least
Year-to-Date Wildfire Statistics*
January–February Totals Rank
(out of 13 years)
Record 2000-2010
Average
Value Year
Acres Burned 92,646 7ᵗʰ Most 411,011 2006 134,931
7ᵗʰ Least
Number of Fires 4,997 8ᵗʰ Most 9,752 2011 5,571
6ᵗʰ Least
Acres Burned per Fire 18.5 7ᵗʰ Most 69.2 2006 22.4
7ᵗʰ Least

*Data Source: The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC)

Discussion

As a whole, the U.S. was warmer than average during February, with the warmest temperature anomalies across the central and eastern regions of the country. January was also particularly dry across the western and eastern U.S. with wetter than average conditions in the middle of the country, from Louisiana to Minnesota, and westward to the Rockies. For more information, please see the monthly temperature and precipitation discussion. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, during February, the over size of the drought (D1-D4) footprint changed little from 37.87 percent of the contiguous U.S. at the end of January to 38.66 percent at the end of February. Drought conditions worsened across parts of the Southeast, where Exceptional Drought (D4) covered most of southern Georgia, stretching into parts of Alabama and South Carolina. Moderate Drought (D1) expanded northward to cover more of the Carolina Piedmont. Drought also worsened for parts of the interior West, with Severe Drought (D2) developing across the Great Basin. Drought continued to improve for much of the Southern Plains, especially Texas, where beneficial precipitation improved drought conditions by one category across the eastern half of the state.

Wildfire information and environmental conditions are provided by the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Wildland Fire Assessment System (WFAS).

At the beginning of February, there were five large wildfires burning across the country. Two fires were active across eastern Kentucky, where drier-than-average conditions the past several months lowered 100-hour fuel moistures across the region. One large wildfire was burning in northern Florida, where dry conditions increased Keetch-Byram Drought Index (KBDI) values and lowered 10-hour fuel moistures. One additional fire was burning in eastern Oklahoma.

During mid-February, there were three large wildfires active in the United States. Two large wildfires were burning across Florida, where low 10-hour fuel moistures were observed as well as very high KBDI values. The other active fire was in southern Arizona, which had been suffering from on-going drought conditions. Fuel moistures of all sizes were extremely dry (low fuel moistures) and high KBDI values were observed in the region.

At the end of the month, there were 15 large wildfires active across the country. Ten of the wildfires were active across eastern Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas where moderately low 10-hour and 100-hour fuel moistures and high fire danger were observed. Two fires were burning across eastern Tennessee, where windy and dry conditions the last few days of the month created ideal wildfire conditions. Two fires were burning across Florida, which has been particularly dry for the past several months, lowering fuel moistures and increasing the KBDI values across the state. One additional large wildfire was burning in South Dakota.


All Fire Related Maps


Citing This Report

NOAA National Climatic Data Center, State of the Climate: Wildfires for February 2012, published online March 2012, retrieved on April 21, 2014 from http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/2012/2.