Wildfires - Annual 2006

Although drought persisted in the middle of the country in November, large wildland fire activity was concentrated in western Canada. In the U.S. the major incidents were concentrated in two areas: Oklahoma–Arkansas–Missouri and Kentucky.

The fire season abated in December. There were over 96,000 wildland fires in the U.S. since the beginning of 2006, and almost 10 million acres were burned, according to estimates from the National Interagency Fire Center. The preliminary number of acres burned is a record.

2006 Wildfire Statistics (from NIFC):
Totals Nationwide Number of Fires Nationwide Number of Acres Burned
12/29/2006 96,326 9,871,863
12/31/2005 66,552 8,686,753
12/31/2004 77,534 6,790,692
12/31/2003 85,943 4,918,088
12/31/2002 88,458 6,937,584
12/31/2001 84,079 3,555,138
12/31/2000 122,827 8,422,237

Dead fuel moisture levels remained very dry mostly in the Southwest in November. The 10–hour fuel moisture levels on 4 December were extremely dry in southern California, southern Nevada and western Arizona. Medium fuels (30 November 100–hr) were extremely dry in an area of southern Nevada and western Arizona. Larger fuels (30 November 1000–hr) remained unusually dry over the past month from the California–Arizona–Mexico border northward into central Nevada.

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 southern California, Nevada, southwestern Arizona, and in eastern Georgia and the northern Florida peninsula. The observed experimental fire potential index at the beginning of December was anomalously high from southern California eastward through southern Nevada, Arizona, and western New Mexico.

Historically, the graphs below show that the number of fires has been decreasing since the 1980s. However, the number of acres burned has been increasing. In Alaska the number of fires was the highest in the early 1990s.

Citing This Report

NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information, State of the Climate: Wildfires for Annual 2006, published online January 2007, retrieved on June 16, 2021 from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/fire/200613.