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Fuels And Fire Danger

As part of the Open Burning Weather Awareness Campaign from the National Weather Service in Burlington, we will examine the topic of fuels and fire danger.

Coinciding with the peak fire season in Vermont and New York, the months of April and May, is the fact that the area is in a pre-greenup phase. This is when the ground is bare, brown, and dry due to dormant grasses, dead leaves, needles, and small brush. These materials are fuels that can dry very quickly under full sunlight, warming temperatures, low relative humidities, and wind. If a fire were to start in these conditions, it could quickly spread out of control.

The photo below (courtesy of Brooke Taber, National Weather Service) is an example of dry, fine dead fuels in Vermont (April 2013). High pressure has built into the region resulting in several factors to help dry the fine fuels – full sunshine, no precipitation, and low relative humidities.

Dry Grasses In Vermont

Forest agencies such as the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, and the New York State Forest Rangers monitor fire danger. Fire Danger examines the state of the fuels and weather conditions. These elements determin how easily a fire could start, how fast it would spread, the difficulty it would take to control the fire, and the fires impact. Fire Danger can range from the Low category indicating fires do not readily start, to the Extreme category which indicates any fire starts would spread quickly and burn intensely.

Fire Danger Rating Adjectives
Fire Danger Rating Table

You've Probably Seen It This Way
Fire Danger Rating Sign

Click Here To Return To The Open Burning Weather Awareness Page

(All photos taken on Vermont fires in 2012 and are courtesy of Brooke Taber, NWS Burlington, Vermont)

National Weather Service
1200 Airport Drive
S. Burlington VT 05403

Contact: Eric Evenson
Page last modified: March 5, 2013
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