Saturday, July 12, 2008

An 'average' wildfire year, so far, sort of

Having been a bit too close to a few, I know there is nothing "average" or otherwise all that statistically interesting about a wildfire if you're close to it. But...

Having said that, what with the rash of fires in California this year, I was surprised to see at the National Interagency Fire Center website that as of July 12 (the page updates daily), this year is actually just slightly below the five-year average in acres burned in the United States. This year: 3,024,762 acres. Five-year average for this date: 3,164,599 acres.

When you look at the ten-year average for acres to date on July 12, though, it's another story: 2,564,126 acres. (There were some really good early fire seasons in there, which skewed the average down quite a bit, like 1,031,086 acres through July 12 in 2003, and 1,254,208 acres through July 12 in 2001.)

Another website with official wildfire news and information is InciWeb.

(P.S. The National Interagency Fire Center is commonly called Nif-see, from its initials: NIFC.)


Value said...

you're missing one key piece of information: it's barely the middle of July, months away from California's peak season. It's hardly an "average" season.

Kathryn Judson said...

Oh, no question that it's not an average season in California - or that early season stats can be wildly misleading one way or another. It's just that I expected total acres for Jan. 1 through July 12 to be much higher, because I assumed the California calamities would be in addition to more or less regular fire acres elsewhere. Sorry I didn't make that clear.