Fire Weather/Fire Prevention Awareness Week Day 5

In conjunction with federal and state land
management agencies, the National
Weather Service in Jackson, Kentucky
is participating in the Fire Prevention
Awareness week from October 5th through
the 11th. During the week, different topics
concerning fire weather and fire prevention
will be discussed, which will help educate
listeners and the public and increase the
awareness of fire weather and fire safety.  

Fire Weather/Fire Prevention Awareness Week
concludes Today with a look at the Spring and Fall Fire Weather Seasons.

As mentioned earlier in the week, low relative humidities and high

wind speeds are two key ingredients which act to increase the degree of

fire danger. These two ingredients, combined with drier vegetation, are

most prevalent during the spring and fall fire weather seasons.


The spring fire weather season occurs in the late winter and early

spring. It begins on February 15th and lasts until April 30th. In

February and March, most of the vegetation is still dormant as

temperatures begin to warm. Lengthening daylight hours and warmer

temperatures increase the surface temperatures, and in combination

with higher wind speeds, dry out the vegetation. With these

ingredients in place, elevated levels of fire danger typically

occur until the forest foliage is at full growth and providing

shade. The cooling effect of the shade on leaf litter and understory

and the high moisture content of growing vegetation brings an end to

the spring fire season. Spring is when the majority of wildfires

occur. However, the largest wildfire in Kentucky since 2000 occurred in

the Fall of 2001 in Floyd County.


The fall fire weather season runs from October 1st through December

15th. Normally for Kentucky, the months of September and October, are

on average the two driest months of the year. This makes September and

October combined the driest two month period during the year on

average. During this time of year, temperatures are also cooler on

average. These cooler temperatures help reduce the threat of stronger

afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms, which are usually

triggered by warmer surface temperatures. Also, the jet stream, which

brings better organized weather systems with more widespread

rainfall, is typically located well north of Kentucky during September

and October.


Typically, in the month of September the vegetation becomes drier. By

October, the combination of drier vegetation, falling leaves that dry

out and the end of the growing season sometimes leads to an extended

period of higher fire danger.


Climatological records for Jackson and London indicate that the

driest months on record generally occur in September and October.

The normal rainfall at Jackson for September is 3.46 inches, while

the normal rainfall for October is 3.19 inches. At London, the

normal rainfall for September is 3.37 inches and 3.02 inches for

October. Since 1981 at Jackson, eight Septembers and nine Octobers

have had rainfall of less than two inches. Since 1955 at London,

fifteen Septembers and seventeen Octobers have had rainfall of less

than two inches. In fact, at Jackson, the driest two month

September and October period on record occurred in 2005, when only

2.08 inches fell. The driest two month September and October period

at London occurred in 2008, when only 1.30 inches of rain fell. At

Jackson, the second driest September and October period was in 2008

when only 2.14 inches fell, while the third driest September and

October period occurred in 2001, when only 2.50 inches of rain

fell. Meanwhile, London was wetter during September and October

of 2001, receiving 3.72 inches. Fall 2001 was one of the most

active fall fire weather seasons on record in eastern Kentucky.


Although we have discussed the seasonal impacts of weather on wildfires,

keep in mind that wildfires can occur at any time of the year in Kentucky.

Always strive to stay educated about wildfire prevention. But

most importantly, be careful and act responsibly!  


For additional fire weather information, please
visit the following website:

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