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Miriam L. Rorig, Sue A. Ferguson
Year Published:

Cataloging Information

Fire Behavior

NRFSN number: 8141
FRAMES RCS number: 5074
Record updated:

A large number of lightning-caused fires burned across the western United States during the summer of 2000. In a previous study, the authors determined that a simple index of low-level moisture (85-kPa dewpoint depression) and instability (85-50-kPa temperature difference) from the Spokane, Washington, upper-air soundings was very useful for indicating the likelihood of 'dry' lightning (occurring without significant concurrent rainfall) in the Pacific Northwest. This same method was applied to the summer-2000 fire season in the Pacific Northwest and northern Rockies. The mean 85-kPa dewpoint depression at Spokane from 1 May through 20 September was 17.7 deg C on days when lightning-caused fires occurred and was 12.3 deg C on days with no lightning-caused fires. Likewise, the mean temperature difference between 85 and 50 kPa was 31.3 deg C on lightning-fire days, as compared with 28.9 deg C on non-lightning-fire days. The number of lightning-caused fires corresponded more closely to high instability and high dewpoint depression than to the total number of lightning strikes in the region.


Rorig, Miriam L.; Ferguson, Sue A. 2002. The 2000 fire season: lightning-caused fires. Journal of Applied Meteorology. 41(7): 786-791.