Onsite and Remote Decision Support Services for Emergency Management Centered around the 2017 Wildfires in California (110)

Matt Solum, NOAA/NWS Western Region Headquarters, Salt Lake City, UT

Scott Carpenter, NOAA/NWS Western Region Headquarters

Leslie Waite-Smith, NOAA/NWS Western Region Headquarters

Scott Birch, NOAA/NWS Western Region Headquarters

Michael Paddock, NWS Liaison to FEMA N-IMAT West

 

Abstract:

The 2017 California wildfire season was the most destructive on record. Over 9000 fires burned more than 1.3 million acres according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. Five of these fires in 2017 ranked among the 20 most destructive wildland-urban interface fires in the state's history. Early on in 2017, California was experiencing widespread flooding which alleviated drought concerns at least for the time being. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the potential for large fires was "expected to remain near normal through the spring, but once fine fuels dry out, there will likely be a spike in grass fire activity.&rdquo In October 2017, more than 250 wildfires ignited across Northern California, burning over 245,000 acres. The destruction left by the wildfires included more than 8900 structures, 44 fatalities and more than $9.4 billion in insured property losses becoming the costliest group of wildfires on record. In December 2017, strong Santa Ana winds across southern California triggered another round of wildfires including the Thomas Fire in Ventura County, which is now the largest wildfire in California history. These fires forced over 230,000 people to evacuate with more than 300,000 acres burned and more than 1,300 structures.

These events necessitated Impact-Based Decision Support Services (IDSS) be provided by the Western Region Regional Operations Center (WR ROC) and local Weather Forecast Offices to National Weather Service (NWS) regional, state and local core partners throughout this long-lasting and historical event. Onsite and remote support to the various emergency operations centers, including the California State Operations Center will be highlighted.