Low Humidity + High Wind = Fire Danger

Even though a few rain showers are dotting the landscape Saturday afternoon, the atmosphere is still relatively dry.  Humidity values will generally remain below 40% while wind gusts have the potential to approach and even exceed 40mph through the evening. The dry air combined with a consistent wind speed and higher gusts puts us at risk for the spread of wildfire.


There have been been a few reports of grass and brush fires across rural Winnebago & Ogle County.  The best plan of action is to stop any outdoor burning on Saturday.  Wait until Sunday, when our sustained wind speed will be below 10mph. -Joe


Posted under safety, wildfires, wildlife, Wind

This post was written by qni_it on April 6, 2013

Be smart when burning this fall!

The recent windy, cool weather has caused quite a few people to get outside to burn unwanted leaves, brush, and wood. While we are all aware of the danger of burning in dry or windy weather, the Environmental Protection Agency has a few less-known tips so you can stay safe, be efficient, and earth-friendly!

First, burn only dry, seasoned wood. Properly seasoned wood burns hotter, producing more heat and less pollution. Seasoned wood is darker, has cracks in the end grain, and sounds hollow when struck against another piece of wood.

Use a moisture meter. Wood burns best when the moisture content is 20%. If you are a regular to the wood-burning scene, you can purchase a wood moisture meter for less than $20 to test the moisture content of the wood before you burn it.

Burn hot fires. Once you’ve enjoyed the warmth, many people think they should let a fire smolder overnight, but reducing the air supply does little for heating and increases air pollution. A smoldering fire isn’t efficient.

Start fires with newspaper or dry kindling. This increases burning efficiency.

Regularly remove ashes from your wood-burning appliances to maintain proper airflow. For safety, put ashes in a metal container with a cover and store outdoors.

Never burn painted or treated wood, moldy or wet wood, household garbage, cardboard, or driftwood. They can release toxic chemicals into the air – and your home. During the holidays, remember not to burn Christmas trees or wrapping paper!

You can learn more on the EPA’s Burn Wise website: www.epa.gov/burnwise


Posted under going green, health, pollution, safety, science, wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on October 22, 2012

Exactrack|HD catches LaSalle County fire

This afternoon, an odd “stream” of radar returns showed up on Exactrack|HD. At first glance, it appeared to be a line of showers. However, anybody looking outside at the lack of clouds, could’ve said that’s not possible. After putting the radar in a one-hour loop, you could see the “stream” moving north-northeast. Because the wind was from the south-southwest, it was pretty easy to determine it was a smoke plume…a plume that was more than 50 miles long for a time, stretching through DeKalb County to Huntley. (Click image to enlarge.)

I chatted with the National Weather Service in Chicago, who confirmed that there were multiple reports on Facebook of a fire in the area. The NewsTribune reports that the fire grew to 100 acres this afternoon, possibly started by a cigarette or a (un)controlled burn.

In the article, they say the fire is in the process of being contained. In jeopardy are a set of high-tension power lines and a fiber optic line. -Eric 



Posted under weather geek, wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on September 11, 2012

Blocking jet stream pattern will foster cooler weather

A lot of time during the fall and winter months Meteorologists look at the longwave jet stream pattern to discern what kinds of weather we’ll have here in the Lower-48. Typically in the summertime, the jet stream is weaker…and this summer even the weaker jet has been well north into Canada.

But here is the pattern that will take us through the latter half of August. A persistent ridge of high pressure will ride high into Greenland which will send cool air from Canada south into the Great Lakes states. While this means cooler, fall-like weather for us here, it also means persistent heat and dry weather for the fire-stricken west. -ES


Posted under weather, weather geek, wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on August 14, 2012

Our View: Expect drought conditions to worsen

Today’s drought monitor does not paint a pretty picture for Illinois and Wisconsin. 92 percent of the Land of Lincoln is in moderate to severe drought with the exception being a tiny sliver of land along I-80 from Moline to the south suburbs of Chicago. Conditions in Wisconsin continue to worsen, but mainly for the southern half of the state. Northern Wisconsin has been closer to an active jet stream which has brought rounds of thunderstorms in two to three day occurrences (which is normal for us this time of year).

We’ve done some calculations and found that June 2012 will go down as the third driest ever! June 1988 and 1922 were the only ones drier. Since January, only eleven inches of rain has fallen which is down from the 18.24 inches we should have seen by this date.

The prospects for substantial rain are very bleak. The most accurate weather model so far this summer has been the European model (ECMWF). The output for the next TEN days is only 0.08″. Average for a ten day stretch this time of year is 1.39″. Even the GFS model (which has been overdone for weeks) is giving us just a shade over the norm…nothing that will put a dent in this serious drought.

A lack of rain will continue to have significant impacts on agriculture and fire danger in the next few weeks. And if that wasn’t bad enough, an increasing drought brings an increased chance of seeing more 100 degree heat later this summer. -ES


Posted under heat wave, news, record weather, safety, science, statistics, weather geek, wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on July 5, 2012

VIDEO: International Space Station captures Colorado wildfires

Check out this video from NASA. It shows the extent of the wildfires near Colorado Springs and the smoke plume that has made it over most of the Upper Midwest and Plains States.

You may have noticed a tinge of brown along the horizon due to the smoke from the fires. This will promote bad air quality for us tonight until the wind shifts. On the good side, it will make for a more brilliant sunset in a little over an hour from now. -ES


Posted under drought, health, news, pollution, space, wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on June 28, 2012

Colorado Springs wildfire live coverage


Posted under wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on June 26, 2012

Huge fire threatens thousands of homes

A huge wildfire continues to burn out of control near Colorado Springs, sending more than 10,000 people from their homes. The Waldo Canyon Fire broke out on Sunday and has burned more than 5,000 acres. As of now, hundreds of firefighters are working night and day to keep the flames away from numerous subdivisions and the nearby Air Force Base. Garden of the Gods, a popular tourist attraction/rock formation is also within the range of this fire, as well as Manitou Springs, a popular shopping destination.



Posted under wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on June 26, 2012

High Fire Danger Today

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for Ogle, Lee, and DeKalb counties until 7pm tonight.   The weather conditions today will create dangerous outdoor burning situations.  By this afternoon, the combination of low relative humidity levels (20-30%) and gusty North-northwest winds up to 25 mph will cause any outdoor fire to spread quickly.  If you were planning to do any outdoor burning today, please hold off until better conditions arrive.


Posted under weather, wildfires, Wind

This post was written by qni_it on April 23, 2012

Two wildfires seen on doppler radar!

5:30pm – Even though there is a “Red Flag Fire Warning” in effect, it seems some folks in McHenry County thought it was still a good day for a controlled burn. What the heck were they thinking??? According to an article by the Northwest Herald, the burn was conducted at Moraine Hills State Park and many residents became “irked.” The article quotes Vicki Seyller, administrative assistant at the McHenry Township Fire Protection District. “I’ve gotten so many phone calls.” Seyller confirmed about 1:15 p.m. today that the Illinois Department of Natural Resources is conducting a controlled burn at the state park located off of River Road, southeast of McHenry.

Maybe the Illinois DNR should take fire danger into account before lighting a “controlled burn.” Had this fire gone out of control, it would’ve been a disaster. -ES

2:10pm – A grass fire has broken out between Winnebago and Byron this afternoon, as you can see on this animated doppler radar image. Our newsdesk confirms that fire departments have been called. We have a crew on the way there. If you have anything to report, please send us an e-mail weather@wrex.com or post on our Facebook page from your mobile device!

A very signifcant fire risk continues this afternoon and evening.

Please do not do ANY burning! -eS




2:00pm – A strong, southerly wind combined with low humidity is creating a very high fire danger across the region. I haven’t gotten any word on a fire but the radar signature to the left is showing what is likely a fire along IL173 east of Harvard with a smoke plume blowing due north into Walworth County, Wisconsin. I will continue to update this post as more information comes in. If you have something to report, please e-mail weather@wrex.com. -ES


Posted under wildfires

This post was written by qni_it on March 20, 2012