Wind’s Weather Role in NW Oklahoma Complex Fires (part 3 of 3)

The stage was set. The players for a drama of tragic proportions assembled. Two leads waited their cue. Already on stage were fine dead fuels from previous growing seasons, low moisture in February, and super low humidities. The next player in the drama entered, high wind speeds. This article is part 3 of 3 articles exploring weather conditions that set the stage for the Northwest Oklahoma Complex Fires that broke out on Monday, March 6, 2017.

2017-03-16.1Mb.Fire wall behind field and farmer.Terena Burke Bridwell.Barby Ranch.The Oklahoman

(Photo: Terena Burke Bridwell/Barby Ranch Beaver County)

At 11:00 AM March 6th winds across Beaver County were out of the southwest. Wind speed at the Oklahoma Mesonet Beaver site was 37 miles per hour. Continue reading

February’s Weather Role in NW Oklahoma Complex Fires (part 1 of 3)

Intense, devastating fires flared up one week ago in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Texas. This article is part one of a three part series. It covers the long-term conditions leading into this horrendous fire day. Part One covers weather factors in February that contributed to extremely dry conditions in Beaver, Harper, and Woodward Counties.

2017-03-07.NW OK Complex Fire.fire and truck line at night.Carmen Fire Dept 2

(Photo: Carmen Fire Department 3/7/17)

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Wind Whipped Fire: 350 Complex

When we have dry, dead grass, low humidity, and strong, gusty winds, it only takes a spark to setoff a disastrous fire. That’s what we had a week ago on Tuesday, April 5th.

2016-04-11.No 01.Fire and wind farm turbine.OHP.Ray Anderson

(Image: Oklahoma Highway Patrol/Roy Anderson)

Arcing power lines sparked fires early Tuesday afternoon approximately six miles north of Woodward. Four fires merged into one fire. Firefighters from across the state responded to the call, yet even with the assistance of five aerial tankers by Thursday morning the fire had burned 54,200 acres and was only 10% contained. For this fire, named the 350 Complex, it would be take until the morning of April 11 to reach 80% containment. Continue reading