An Unnecessary Tragedy: The New Mexico Hermit’s Peak Fire

From the Cliff Mass Weather Blog

Cliff Mass

On April 6, a wildfire was accidentally ignited by U.S. Forest Service personnel doing a prescribed burn near Hermit’s Peak, New Mexico. 

A prescribed burn is a deliberately set fire intended to reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfires by burning off surface fuels during conditions unlikely to cause an uncontrollable wildfire. 

This Hermit’s Peak fire began about 30 miles east of Santa Fe and 15 miles northwest of Las Vegas, NM.  Joining another escaped fire two weeks later (the Calf Canyon Fire), the Hermit’s Peak fire has now burned 342,000  acres and destroyed over 900 structures.  

The area of the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire as of June 27

The cost of fighting the fire is now over 250 million dollars and the total damage, all the responsibility of the Federal government, will easily range into the billions of dollars.  

Satellite image of the fire area last week.  

Red indicates burned area and bright orange shows active fires.
As I will describe below, none of this had to happen.

Inadequate use of meteorological forecasts and data, ignoring the large amounts of preexisting flammable surface fuel, and poor decision-making all contributed to this disaster. Climate change was not a major player in this wildfire, in contrast to the suggestions by certain media (e.g., Washington Post, Seattle Times) and some Forest Service officials.

Last week the Forest Service put out an official report on the incident.  Although there was an admission of some deficiencies (like not having firefighting capability in place if the prescribed burn went wrong), the report provides an inadequate description of the conditions leading up to the fire and did not note the failure to take advantage of modern meteorological prediction tools. It also suggested, erroneously, a major contribution of climate change.  

This blog will tell the real story.

Dangerous Accumulation of Flammable Fuels Before the Fire

Prior to the fire, the accumulated amount of surface fuels (e.g., grasses) was far above normal and very dangerous.   This was documented on one of the Forest Service’s own websites (fuelcast.net) and a specific warning of the danger BEFORE the fire was given by a leading Forest Service surface fuel expert, Dr. Matt Reeves.   

Heavier than normal precipitation last summer during the Southwest Monsoon led to abundant grass growth, which dried out during the winter and spring under the influence of a moderate La Nina (which causes the southwest U.S. to be dry during the cool season).  Neither of these conditions is associated with global warming.

Dr. Reeves (on March 1) noted that surface fuel density in eastern New Mexico was above normal (yellow and green colors in the figure below), representing a substantial wildfire threat.  The location of the Hermit’s Peak fire is indicated by the black arrow.

A Strong Wind/Drying Episode the Day Before the Fire

On the day before the fire, there was an intense drying event, with very strong, low-humidity, desiccating winds over the region.  This is illustrated by the Hot-Dry-Windy index that combines wind speed and atmospheric drying potential (values shown below are for the area around the fire). 

A HUGE spike of drying conditions occurred on April 5th.   Think of it as a drying storm that quickly sucks the moisture out of dead grasses and other vegetation.

This intense drying was evident at a nearby U.S. RAWS weather station (Pecos, NM), where the winds gusted to 40-50 mph and the relative humidity dropped to under 20% on April 5th.   Any grasses or light fuel were completely and utterly dry after the “drying storm.”


An Ominous Weather Forecast Ignored on April 6th

Now we get to the day of the prescribed burn and runaway wildfire.

According to the official Forest Service report, there was no dedicated meteorological support for the burns and the only guidance was a few spot forecasts requested from National Weather Service forecasters in Albuquerque.

The Forest Service report states that the key reason why the fire got away from Forest Service personnel was “variable and shifting winds.”    The truth is that such winds were clearly forecast well before the prescribed burns were initiated during the late morning of April 6.

Consider the operational National Weather Service HRRR forecast model, which is run at high resolution over the entire U.S. every hour, providing timely and accurate high-resolution weather prediction.  These predictions were available to the Forest Service folks well before the burn.

Below are the HRRR forecasts of surface wind gusts.  This forecast model run was started at midnight Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) and would have been available on the web by 2 AM April 6th (well before the fires were initiated by the Forest Service).  The plots below show forecast wind direction and wind speed (plotted by UW research meteorologist Jeff Baars).

At 6 AM MDT, the predicted wind gusts were from the south near and east of Hermit’s Peak, reaching 15-20 knots  Winds were variable near the peak with strong northwesterly winds to the west.

By 11 AM winds had greatly strengthened to the east of Hermit’s Peak and a surge of strong northwesterly winds began to push over the terrain just to the west of Hermit’s Peak.  A major wind shift and wind strengthening were about to occur.  This is when they decided to light many of the fires.

By 3 PM, when the prescribed fires were starting to go out of control,  northwesterly winds were predicted to hit the Hermit’s Peak areas, with gusts to 20-25 mph.  As shown by the observations at Pecos RAWS (shown above) and other local observing sites, this was a good forecast.

To further illustrate the realism of the forecasts, below are the maximum gusts on April 6th.  26 mph at Pecos and 31 mph at Las Vegas, NM. 

Maximum wind (mph) on April 6 in the fire area.

The substantial change in winds was also forecast by the National Weather Service National Blend of Models (NBM).  Below are the forecasts for the Las Vegas, NM airport,  made at 1 AM the DAY BEFORE (the times are all in UTC/GMT).  

The gusts (GST) were predicted to be as high as 24 knots that afternoon.  And the wind direction  (WDR) was predicted to shift from southerly (17, 18) in the morning to northerly and then northwesterly (3, 5 to 34, 33) later in the afternoon.

The bottom line is that increasing winds and wind shifts were clearly predicted by the National Weather Service HRRR model and the NWS NBM system well before they occurred, and subsequent forecasts enhanced the threat further. 

Thus, the strong, gusty winds with changing directions should NOT have come as a surprise to Forest Service personnel.


But it is worse than that: the air predicted to come across the terrain west of Hermit’s Peak was far drier and thus more prone to burn.

The observed relative humidity plot at the nearby Pecos RAWS site (repeated below, Local Standard Time shown), shows this profound drying, with relative humidity dropping to BELOW 8% during the afternoon of the 6th.

Weather model forecasts the day before clearly showed the very, very dry air coming across the terrain from the west.  Below is a high-resolution forecast (starting 6 PM the DAY BEFORE) of relative humidity.

The forecast for 6 AM shows moderate relative humidity (50-60%) around Hermit’s Peak. 


By noon, MUCH drier air was forecast (correctly) to move in, with values less than 25% at Hermit’s peak and much drier air just upstream.

And by 6 PM, values were down to 10% and below.

Putting it All Together

So the morning of April 6th, Forest Service personnel made the decision to go ahead with a prescribed burn:

1.  With surface fuel loading was much higher than normal.   

2.  The day after a severe drying event was taking place.

3.  When National Weather Service operational forecasting guidance predicted a major wind shift and strong winds during fire operations.

4.  When National Weather Service operational forecasting guidance predicted plummeting relative humidity during the burn period.

Furthermore,  Forest Service personnel did so without dedicated meteorological guidance and did not ensure that there were sufficient firefighting resources to deal with an out-of-control fire.

These actions were not responsible and did not reflect the high standards expected of the USDA Forest Service.   

These actions not only resulted in billions of dollars of loss, the disruptions to the lives of thousands of New Mexico residents, and the loss of valued natural and historical resources but also undermines the critical task of responsibly restoring the dangerously fire-prone western forests, damaged by decades of fire suppression and mismanagement.

Finally, there should be a special place in Hades for those in the media and in the government that blame such forest mismanagement and prescribed burn missteps on climate change, as illustrated by the article and headline below in the Seattle Times. Such misinformation/disinformation undermines our ability to fix western forests and puts people and the natural environment at risk.

5 32 votes
Article Rating
92 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
John Garrett
June 29, 2022 6:08 am

Is there no end to the climate stupidity in this country?

n.n
Reply to  John Garrett
June 29, 2022 6:33 am

Unfortunately, climate stupidity coexists with a climate of stupidity.

Last edited 3 months ago by n.n
Steven lonien
Reply to  n.n
June 29, 2022 7:26 am

Faked in 1919 betz limits claim no invention possible without gaps imposed Leonardos concieved when wagon goes by ship at sea.500+ years ago 1905 Einstines relativity of tides and winds ban now melted ice caps smart oil law got voters cars trucks Harleys ships …. planes no wonder Trump BS.

Tony Sullivan
Reply to  Steven lonien
June 29, 2022 7:46 am

Just might be the most incoherent post I’ve ever read on this forum.

Fraizer
Reply to  Tony Sullivan
June 29, 2022 8:08 am

But it is still more coherent than CAGW apologists or the NFS explanation of how the dog ate their homework.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Fraizer
June 29, 2022 10:58 am

True. MIS (or mal, in most cases with the AGWists) -information is much more damaging (usually) than non-information.

Redge
Reply to  Tony Sullivan
June 29, 2022 8:15 am

And you’ve read Griffs comments!

Redge
Reply to  Redge
June 29, 2022 8:15 am

oops

Last edited 3 months ago by Redge
Tony Sullivan
Reply to  Redge
June 29, 2022 10:02 am

LMAO!!!

Bill Toland
Reply to  Steven lonien
June 29, 2022 7:57 am

All of your words are English words but it appears that a computer virus may have randomised the order.

Redge
Reply to  Bill Toland
June 29, 2022 8:16 am

He knows all the right words, just not necessarily in the right order

Ron Long
Reply to  Redge
June 29, 2022 11:55 am

Sounds like my college professor, not only expected students to know the answers, but also which question they went with.

Trying to Play Nice
Reply to  Bill Toland
June 29, 2022 9:00 am

Or at least a troll bot.

eyesonu
Reply to  Trying to Play Nice
June 30, 2022 8:01 am

Maybe a troll bot w/ COVID (Computer Orientated Virus Initiated Destruction)

HwyEng
Reply to  Bill Toland
June 29, 2022 6:05 pm

Or perhaps the author’s brain.

Glen
Reply to  Steven lonien
June 29, 2022 11:57 am

I speak leftist. To paraphrase Barbara Billingsley.

Glen
Reply to  Glen
June 29, 2022 12:08 pm

Yes this is obviously a bot.

Greg
Reply to  Glen
June 30, 2022 2:35 pm

Ha! That is a good one! Few will get it tho.

ih_fan
Reply to  Steven lonien
June 29, 2022 12:13 pm

Is that you Kamala?

Reply to  ih_fan
June 29, 2022 7:58 pm

No. Kamala at least speaks English although she apparently thinks she is speaking to pre-school tots.

Pauleta
Reply to  John Garrett
June 29, 2022 7:36 am

Country? You meant world, right?

Janice Moore
Reply to  John Garrett
June 29, 2022 10:07 am

In this case, as Mr. Mass’s article makes clear, there was no “climate stupidity.”

  1. Those falsely claiming “climate” was a factor are cunning, not stupid. Lying about human CO2, i.e., “climate change,” promotes their investments in solar/wind/electric vehicles.

2. Those responsible for negligently, if not recklessly, damaging the real and personal property of others in New Mexico are WEATHER-stupid (assuming they did not act with intent to harm).

**********************************

Given, the federal bureaucrats believe that “climate change” will excuse their negligence or recklessness, thus, make private insurance liable for some or all of the damage they caused (oops, not “cause” — their argument = cause was force majeure), they have a strong motive to lie. That is, to them it’s better to look stupid than to look well-informed and intelligent and be liable.

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Janice Moore
June 29, 2022 3:21 pm

Their excuse.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4M0KbfNle4

The climate devil made me light this fire.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Pflashgordon
June 29, 2022 3:42 pm

And, joking aside, you may be correct. I wouldn’t put it past the solar-wind-electric vehicle-other CO2 scam investors (serving their god: Money) to set fires to provide the “evidence” to keep their scams going… .

That is, the devil within them made them do it.

Cui bono.🤨

roaddog
Reply to  Janice Moore
June 30, 2022 10:36 am

It happens all the time, especially in California.

HwyEng
Reply to  John Garrett
June 29, 2022 6:03 pm

It is just plain incompetence, the hallmark of Federal Government operations in the current maladministration. It is really, really difficult to be this bad all the time. It takes great effort and practice

David Elstrom
June 29, 2022 6:09 am

This is how we know leftists are evil and not simply incompetent. Step one, purposely mismanage the forest. Step two, when it burns, screech, “Climate Change!”

william Johnston
Reply to  David Elstrom
June 29, 2022 6:26 am

Climate change equals Not MY fault.

n.n
Reply to  william Johnston
June 29, 2022 7:40 am

The prophecy of catastrophic anthropogenic climate cooling… warming… change is motivated by dreams of shared/shifted/displaced responsibility with “benefits”.

n.n
Reply to  David Elstrom
June 29, 2022 6:36 am

Manufacture diverse problems, bray condemnations with em-pathetic effect, then offer… force solutions for profit.

John Burdick
June 29, 2022 6:22 am

Thank you for your detailed analysis showing the truth behind this man caused fire. It seems climate change is now the new bogeyman for every natural or manmade disaster. The mainstream media continues to spread narratives far from truth and facts.

Ron Long
June 29, 2022 6:29 am

I recently flew commercial from Reno, Nevada, to Dallas, Texas, and, sitting on the right side of the airplane, the smoke from multiple sources was plainly visible. I spent a summer in Oregon timber country on a fire crew, and even then then monitoring of potential fire conditions was sufficient to minimize fires. For instance, humidity drop and strong winds in the summer caused a shut-down of logging activities. Now, the USFS is going woke.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Ron Long
June 29, 2022 10:29 am

And this has been known for, well, basically “forever” in the history of logging.

A very old ditty (sung by very old loggers when I was little in Washington State):

Learned a little lesson from a logger named Gray.
Ya don’t cut timber on a windy day.
Stay out of the woods when the moisture’s loh–ooooohh (hit low note on second “ooh” 😊)
or you’ll never live to collect your dough.*

*”dough” means pay or money in American English.

roaddog
Reply to  Ron Long
June 30, 2022 10:37 am

Hoot-owl regulations. Very common in Montana.

Jonathan Lesser
June 29, 2022 6:30 am

I live in NM. Ranchers in the area begged the forest service not to go ahead with the burn because it was too windy. The forest service ignored them, claiming that the weather was “within the parameters” of their model.

The climate change claim was met here with expressions of “BS!”

Of course, no one in the forest service will be disciplined for this preventable catastrophe.

Fraizer
Reply to  Jonathan Lesser
June 29, 2022 8:11 am

“…Of course, no one in the forest service will be disciplined for this preventable catastrophe….”

Just like when the EPA poisoned the Animas river.

roaddog
Reply to  Fraizer
June 30, 2022 10:38 am

Government actually just made a big payout on that one, I believe to some native tribes in New Mexico.

Meab
Reply to  Jonathan Lesser
June 29, 2022 9:18 am

Unfortunately, this is not the first controlled burn the Forest (destroying) Service set in bad dry wind conditions. They started the Cerro Grande fire that burned 43,000 acres and destroyed 235 homes in Los Alamos, NM in the year 2000.. They don’t act responsibly and haven’t improved- many career bureaucrats in the Forest Service need to be fired, but the Gubmint is far too incompetent to fix the problem..

Marty Cornell
Reply to  Jonathan Lesser
June 29, 2022 7:42 pm

post names, titles, and photos of those who made the decision and broadcast widely.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Jonathan Lesser
June 30, 2022 12:50 pm

“Parameters of their MODEL…”

Once again, reliance on the ‘black box’ of “their model” is used as a substitute for common sense and brains.

MJB
June 29, 2022 6:39 am

Excellent breakdown of the events, thanks for the thorough post.

I’ve worked prescribed burns as a laborer and have been involved in some of the planning since. I can confirm there is a lot of pressure to get the burn done, and without a lot of discipline and pre-determined go/no-go decisions points mistakes can happen. We’ve had some burns on the docket for three years straight but never completed because fire weather indices were not right, or when the indices were right the fire suppression resources were busy elsewhere.

Adding to the technical questions the human side comes into play as well. Fire fighting seems to draw an above average number of folks with a certain bravado and over-confidence.

In my opinion the uncertainty of accomplishing burns has to be acknowledge at the highest organizational level and included in the strategic approach, including funding. A burn that does not happen is not necessarily a failure, more often it is a success story of following protocols and should be an expected and accepted outcome. Yes, there is a real cost to assembling personnel and equipment on site, and everyone wants to justify the expenditure by showing results, but that should not influence decisions to proceed. The downside as we see in this example is simply too large.

Old Man Winter
Reply to  MJB
June 29, 2022 8:27 am

Thanks for sharing insights into the “mission hacking” mentality that leads to taking unnecessary
risks where things will eventually go wrong. The good bosses I had were willing to push back when
things stopped making sense even if they risked being labeled “uncooperative”.

Pflashgordon
Reply to  Old Man Winter
June 29, 2022 3:26 pm

I seem to recall a certain NASA space shuttle.

Steven lonien
June 29, 2022 6:55 am

23 nice homes burned while the local forest service waited for there buddy’s from valley garage blew debris up on my 2000 gal.truck load when state took control no agreement Contract just my name volunteering 5 24/7 days later 300,000 gallons tired $112.00 hr.showed up Awbry hall fire over.. same me me found on scale lacking common since policy’s standards 24/7 now.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Steven lonien
June 29, 2022 10:12 am

Hang in there, Steven Ionien. Hope you can get some rest. Sounds like you have been severely traumatized by this horrible event. Take care of yourself. Praying for you and everyone involved.

No Name Guy
Reply to  Janice Moore
June 29, 2022 10:45 am

See “Steven Ionien” post up the thread – this “person” is clearly a chat bot.

Janice Moore
Reply to  No Name Guy
June 29, 2022 11:04 am

You’re probably right. That second comment was coherent enough that, just in case it was poor Steve’s distress and a “helpful” “smart” phone’s autocorrect that caused the word salad, I wanted to encourage the poor soul.

Thanks for the heads up, No Name. 🙂

Carlo, Monte
June 29, 2022 7:03 am

Washingmachine Post liars put out more Fake News, what a surprise.

The Good News—Chama NM, northwest of this burn near the Colorado border, has received almost 4 inches of rain within the past 7-10 days when the Pacific monsoon from the SW kicked in.

Mac
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
June 29, 2022 12:36 pm

It’s called the Washington Pustule by me. Constantly oozing yellow news.

roaddog
Reply to  Carlo, Monte
June 30, 2022 10:41 am

New Mexico is now actually seeing some pretty epic flooding.

No Name Guy
June 29, 2022 7:05 am

When the powers that be lie to themselves and us the citizens (“the climate change made me do it”) those in positions of responsibility will never learn what they must do to act in a prudent manner.

The above should be required reading for all fire managers. A dispassionate review of the facts when things go wrong, much as is done with aviation accidents, is required to learn from the mistakes of the past, so that they aren’t repeated.

Cliff et al: Thanks to your writing on fire related topics, I’m now far, far more aware of the danger that grasses pose. As you’ve made it clear these last couple of years, 1 day of hot, dry, windy conditions can turn those fine fuels into tinder. When I move from where I am, into fire country (Montana or Idaho are my retirement destination) I’ll be on guard thanks to you.

eyesonu
Reply to  No Name Guy
June 30, 2022 8:20 am

A dry grass fire in a breeze is the ‘scariest’ thing you will ever witness.

roaddog
Reply to  eyesonu
June 30, 2022 10:47 am

I will call that, and raise you one ex-girlfriend.

eyesonu
Reply to  roaddog
June 30, 2022 6:00 pm

I fold. Never saw that coming! loll

Mike
June 29, 2022 7:23 am

So we see that “forestry personally” gave the go ahead to light the fire. Who exactly gave the go ahead? There is always one person in charge, that person should be fired.

Joseph Campbell
Reply to  Mike
June 29, 2022 7:44 am

Ha!…Sadly…

DMackenzie
Reply to  Mike
June 29, 2022 8:41 am

That person is using the CC defense.

MarkW
Reply to  DMackenzie
June 29, 2022 9:47 am

Even if CC did play a role, CC did not change noticeably from a couple of days prior.

DaveinCalgary
June 29, 2022 7:30 am

The most important question is, how does one force accountability in situations like this? Is there legal action available? Every time situations like this go without consequences, it invites a dozen more. Thanks Cliff for a well researched presentation.

ResourceGuy
June 29, 2022 7:41 am

Federal agencies have been adrift for a generation now. They are just not a priority for the Parties and the voters, until they see it for themselves up close and personal.

Randle Dewees
June 29, 2022 7:42 am

‘Prescribed Burns”, and the opportunistic lightning started “Beneficial Fires”. Extremely small intended areas, insignificant in the grand scheme, yet huge catastrophic potential if the weather doesn’t cooperate. It boggles my mind that the so-called “Land Managers” keep literally playing with fire when the intended benefit is not even in the noise (100’s or 1000’s acres in many millions of acres), and this same thing KEEPS HAPPENING. Insanity.

John_C
Reply to  Randle Dewees
June 29, 2022 8:52 am

The problem is that we have suppressed natural fires for nigh on a century, and have hugely increased fuel loads in any area that hasn’t recently burned. I haven’t heard of a forestry plan that starts at the edges of the burned areas and works out from there, (which would be the correct plan) and even that would fail if adverse wind forecasts were ignored.

I suspect that if one were to suggest that NOW is the time to start small burns along the periphery of the just burned area, there would be a howl of outrage, even though this is the lowest risk scenario. Since the forest management agencies all report to and are funded by politicians and their appointees, a penny-wise, pound-foolish, can-kicking policy will be followed.

If your suggestion is to just wait until nature starts a mega fire, then I think your suggestion is even worse than the forest service incompetence. Waiting for catastrophe assures eventual catastrophe. A poorly executed attempt still has some small chance of success.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  John_C
June 29, 2022 10:40 am

Obviously, a hundred years ago there should have been forward looking cool rational analysis and decision making that resisted the commercial and political pressures (be honest – control) and continued with natural fire cycles. But that’s fantasy, it didn’t happen.

Progressing forward with “small” edge of burn fires does basically nothing to help. The area improved is still vanishingly minuscule in the grand vast total area. It might be somewhat less problematic than current practice, but it is still risky, and the overall benefit is essentially zero.

If your suggestion is to just wait until nature starts a mega fire, then I think your suggestion is even worse than the forest service incompetence.”

Well, can I take from your statement that you think it is better to just speed up the process of burning everything? Because that is exactly what FS incompetence is doing. In case I have not made my point clear – I do not think the policy of controlled burning has ANY practical benefit.

I have a personal stake in this. I own a cabin on land in the South Sierra. I did not build this beautiful little cabin, But I decided to take custody of it, knowing full well it might be consumed in a wildfire at any time. The community is Kennedy Meadows (Tulare County), it has been there for a while with some history. It almost got wiped off the map by the 2000 67,000 acre Manter Meadow fire (started by the USFS!) The fire scar border is just 500 feet from my property. Since the Manter fire there have been a couple more near misses, the worst being another USNF debacle, the 2017 16,000 acre Shaeffer Mt. “beneficial fire”. The people here know, full well, the strange sometimes non-sensical policy and decision making of the USFS and other land managers.

I have over 30 years interaction with this community, I think the average longtimer view is pretty fatalistic concerning fuel load, micro and meso climate changes, and western drought – it seems a devastating wildfire is likely or even enviable. What nobody wants is to be burned out because the USFS has some “beneficial” fire they could literally put out in an hour, blow out of control. Or some multi hundred-acre prescribed burn that means absolutely nothing in benefit, once again, blowing out of control.

On a personal note, I’ll explain a bit so as to maybe not having to argue about my decision to own real property in a high fire hazard area. Me and my wife (of 45 years) are getting on. We have recreated in the mountains our entire adult lives – rock climbing, mountaineering, ultra running, and even some plain old back packing, hiking, and camping. But almost always on the move driving up and down to and from some objective. We want to slow down and just enjoy the mountain environment. My wife especially just wanted a little house in the trees. We both know the possibility of losing this place. Heck, with really bad luck we might not escape. But nothing risked is nothing gained. In ten years we will be too old to hold this place down and will have to pass this grand little cabin on. Maybe the place will burn before then, maybe not. In the meantime, we deal with the little joys and trials of living (part time) off the grid, cringing through fire season, snow shoeing in a good winter, hearing nothing but birds and the wind, dark skies, lions and bears, and the occasional golden eagle.

Randle Dewees
Reply to  Randle Dewees
June 29, 2022 2:00 pm

I need to clarify a point – I said there is no benefit to prescribed burning – I mean this for extremely rugged western mountain and possibly Rocky Mountain areas. The risk of a wind driven runaway going to a mega fire is very high simply because of the difficulty of bringing resources to bear on the fire.

Prescribe burning covers approximately 1 million acres per year in the US. Most of that is pretty routine stuff, and necessary. If there is a way to reduce fuel load and restore a balanced configuration to Western forests, I’ve yet to hear it. Just saying we need to go to logging or whatever. that’s not an answer. Looking back at the big goofup in forest management and stating the obvious isn’t the answer. Starting a more aggressive prescribe burning policy I think will just accelerate the loss of the forests. I don’t think there is any long-term outcome besides losing most of the western forests to mega fires, at this point I just want that process to be as slow as possible.

roaddog
Reply to  Randle Dewees
June 30, 2022 10:49 am

Failure to perform necessary fire mitigation as possible on private property is simply negligence.

griff
June 29, 2022 7:54 am

but Watts is continually telling me the US doesn’t do forest management, especially controlled burns….

Redge
Reply to  griff
June 29, 2022 8:17 am

Give an example of when Watts has told you this – just one

Bruce Cobb
Reply to  griff
June 29, 2022 9:25 am

Interesting. What else do the voices in your head say?

Janice Moore
Reply to  griff
June 29, 2022 10:44 am

“Watts” posts articles on WUWT (see, e.g., some excellent ones by Jim Steele) showing that U.S. forest management is done — inadequately. Also, “Watts” posts articles exposing that it is sometimes done poorly, as the above article by “Mass” shows.

Dave Fair
Reply to  griff
June 29, 2022 11:25 am

Griff, I’m happy to see that you are an expert on U.S. forest management at the same level of your extreme weather event expertise.

Reply to  griff
July 2, 2022 8:27 am

We are reaching a point where the phrase “doing a Griff” should enter common vernacular in the English language.

When you combine extreme stupidity with total dishonesty you are “doing a Griff”.

HOJO
June 29, 2022 7:58 am

My towels were in a drying storm last night and my wife blamed climate change for the washer moving many inches away from its spot of origin. What a mess we are in .

Old Man Winter
June 29, 2022 8:03 am

Is this the natural “climate change” from the past 2500 yrs that the Seattle Times blames?

NMdrough.jpg
Dave Fair
Reply to  Old Man Winter
June 29, 2022 11:35 am

Thanks for the data, Old Man. But historical data doesn’t count for anything to the politicians when everything is based on unvalidated UN IPCC CliSciFi climate models. Its obvious to all thinking persons that there will never again be wet periods in the U.S. desert Southwest. In the future all of that water will be diverted by CO2 to tropical cyclones.

Retired_Engineer_Jim
Reply to  Dave Fair
June 29, 2022 12:19 pm

Dta do not matter – it’s now all about feelings.

Bruce Cobb
June 29, 2022 8:51 am

It also failed to account for gremlins and space aliens.

MarkW
June 29, 2022 9:19 am

When it comes to any bureaucracy, no matter what goes wrong, it’s always someone else’s fault. Government is the bigger bureaucracy of all

Dave Fair
June 29, 2022 9:21 am

Will there be accountability for those involved in decisionmaking? Personal experience in government most assuredly tells me there won’t be any. Climate change my ass.

beng135
Reply to  Dave Fair
June 29, 2022 10:51 am

An employee that embezzles even alittle money from the company is almost always fired. Goobermint employees costing billions of dollars from incompetence — meh, that’s only taxpayer money.

Dave Fair
Reply to  beng135
June 29, 2022 11:46 am

Again, from personal experience, a government manager or supervisor that identifies and punishes illegal or incompetent behavior in a subordinate will be punished severely. Politics cannot recognize nor admit error. As a relevant and timely example, Brandon’s shutting down FF development is denied as a contributing factor in energy shortages and price escalation. It is the lack of alacrity in implementing solar and wind projects that is to blame. FJB.

ResourceGuy
June 29, 2022 9:34 am

When do they get public service awards and promotions from DC?

Dave Fair
Reply to  ResourceGuy
June 29, 2022 12:22 pm

True Story: When the Senior Executive Service (SES) scam, designed to reward Federal managers (increased pay plus bonuses) for superior personal results in order to increase governmental efficiency, was introduced circa 1980s I monitored a group charged with developing a system for recognizing superior individual management performance. The result was a “system” of rotating bonuses among all the managers with the amounts of monetary awards based upon their rank in the organization.

Another True Story: In the 1990s I was the Manager of Engineering and Construction for an electric utility. Federal regulations came down that 50% of all of our Commercial Drivers License (CDL) holders (a condition of all Electrical Lineman’s employment) must be randomly blood tested for alcohol and drug use each year.

As part of developing the compliance procedures for my utility I consulted with the Local of the Linemen’s union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The IBEW Local proposed that at the beginning of each 12 month period 50% of the Linemen would volunteer to take the blood tests at that time. It took me quite awhile to convince them that that was not going to happen. It is, however, my understanding that a few utilities took them up on the offer or something similar.

The Dark Lord
June 29, 2022 9:55 am

this is a parallel to Obama’s gun running scheme … force dealers to sell guns illegally … then scream about illegal gun purchases …

Rick C
June 29, 2022 10:15 am

Reading this excellent expose by Dr. Mass might lead one to conclude that our department of agriculture and the forest service are staffed by incompetent nincompoops. That would be wrong – most all US government agencies are staffed by incompetent nincompoops.

beng135
June 29, 2022 10:42 am

They used the weather model that is based on CO2-control. It predicted hot/cold, windy/calm, rain/dry, and sunny/cloudy. It did not predict fire, so they figured it was OK.

TonyG
June 29, 2022 11:51 am

“not having firefighting capability in place if the prescribed burn went wrong” WTF

IMO, That by itself is enough to eliminate any excuse.

Mike Lowe
June 29, 2022 12:33 pm

Ain’t it amazing what Climate Change can accomplish?

Tombstone Gabby
June 29, 2022 12:46 pm

Forecasting has come a long way. In the mid 1990’s, Douglas County, Oregon, with a ‘police’ scanner.

When firefighters called for a ‘spot’ forecast it generally took three to four hours to receive a reply.

Bob
June 29, 2022 3:04 pm

I realize that there is a place for government but honestly is there anything, anything these people can do properly? This whole sad affair is revolting. Heads should roll, starting at the top.

Jeff Alberts
June 29, 2022 4:36 pm

Cliff Mass continues to debunk alarmist claims, yet still thinks that CO2 will be a problem eventually. Please, Dr. Mass, show us some evidence that it could ever be a problem.

June 29, 2022 8:04 pm

Thank you again Cliff, for exposing the truth being hidden by the USFS charade.

Time after time, for so many issues, I have observed incompetent people blame climate change and ignore the real causes. Real causes that could have been addressed so that disasters are avoided. As you have shown, by simply being mindful of the weather they could have prevented all that destruction. So they try to cover their ass by blaming climate change.

Grasses are 1-hour fuels and only need a day of dry weather to become highly flammable. The personnel who torched the grass to start the fire, should have seen the abundance of grass and the danger. Whoever gave the order to light the fires, should be removed from their position.

And I agree, the Seattle Times, like other click bait media, have lost their souls. They are no longer investigative journalists trying to reveal the truth, but have become despicable propaganda organs for the climate crisis cult. And its not just the Seattle Times. Scientific America printed the same bogus blame on climate change

Prescribed Burns Are More Dangerous Because of Climate Change

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/prescribed-burns-are-more-dangerous-because-of-climate-change/

Last edited 3 months ago by Jim Steele
roaddog
June 30, 2022 10:56 am
%d bloggers like this: