The US seasonal drought outlook map produced by NOAA is a useful tool for foresters, wildland firefighters and communities as they prepare to embrace wildfire preparedness activities before the spring of 2016 begins. According to the website, “The National Significant Wildland Fire Potential Outlook is intended as a decision support tool for wildland fire managers, providing an assessment of current weather and fuels conditions and how these will evolve in the next four months. The objective is to assist fire managers in making proactive decisions that will improve protection of life, property and natural resources, increase fire fighter safety and effectiveness, and reduce firefighting costs.” They suggested that individuals needing more information contact their local Geographic Area Predictive Services unit.
New areas identified where drought conditions are likely to develop include Hawaii, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, the south eastern area of Idaho and the northern parts of Michigan and Wisconsin where devastating wildfires (like the Peshtigo Fire) occurred in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. This seasonal drought outlook has been affected by rainfall events in the Carolina’s, El Nino conditions and tropical storm events such as the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, that dumped rain in parts of the Great Plains and according to the report the drought that has impacted California, Western Nevada and the Eastern portions of Washington and Oregon will continue.
Wisconsin, one of the states predicted to have a developing condition of drought and concern for wildfire occurrence by the NOAA prediction has online information available to home owners who are interested in reducing their risk to wildfire. In an article, “Planning for Wildfire is a Community Effort” by Amy Luebeke WUI Specialist for West Central Wisconsin. Some of the benefits listed for becoming a recognized Firewise community include:
- Creates defensible space which prevents fires from advancing and endangering buildings and lives
- Wildfires are suppressed faster and remain smaller because firefighters are able to concentrate their efforts on fighting wildfires rather than devoting often limited resources to protecting buildings
- Improves relations with local fire staff and other stakeholders
- Offers peace of mind, knowing that your neighborhood is doing what it can to protect itself
This article also provides a seasonal checklist of activities homeowners can accomplish at different times of the year to improve the survivability of their homes in the event of a wildfire. Their simple and easy to follow fall and winter list provides guidance to homeowners to enable them to seasonally embrace changes that will make a difference during these predicted drought conditions.
The list shares:
- Rake and compost yard and garden debris
- Consider composting leaf piles instead of burning
- Replace wood mulch with decorative rocks
- After your firewood runs out, move future piles at least 30 feet from any structure
- Wait until the ground is completely snow-covered to burn leaf and debris piles
- Thin and prune conifer trees
We can all embrace simple change such as these mentioned above that will help us all Live a Year Less Dangerously from Wildfire (YLLDW).