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From the July 2014 Battle Mountain News

posted Jul 7, 2014, 11:40 AM by Joe Christy

Getting Ready To Evacuate – The Six P's

For the last three years the mantra of wildfire awareness has been “Ready, Set, Go!” The steps toward being ready are by now on everyone's mind: securing the Home Ignition Zone by hardening your home against embers, establishing & maintaining defensible space around your home and outbuildings, and being aware of the hot dry, windy weather conducive to wildfire ignitions & limiting spark producing outdoor activities during fire season.

The first step toward getting set is to prepare a list of important items to take in an evacuation. A handy mnemonic is the SixP's:

  • People and Pets Saving lives is paramount. Know where your neighbors who could require extra assistance are and have carriers & trailers ready for domestic animals small & large.

  • Papers You will need documents in the aftermath – insurance policies, deeds, ID, etc.

  • Prescriptions Medications including vitamins that you take daily and eyeglasses should come along, too.

  • Photos Losing artifacts and heirlooms is tantamount to losing your memories.

  • Personal Computers Our lives are increasingly archived on our computers, so take your hard drives and backups.

  • Plastic Credit and ATM cards, even (gasp!) cash, keep you in the economy.

Once you have your list, put together a go kit or kits so you, or a neighbor when you aren't home, can grab them quickly when the time comes to go. Storing the less frequently used items in a safe deposit box or “in the cloud” is a good idea, too.

Fire Weather, Part II

Every year we are reminded of how thunderstorms in our arid climate can start wildfires with dry lightning. Did you know that large wildfires can produce thunderstorms?

Meteorologists call them pyrocumulonimbus – tall storm cloud caused by a fire - and the mechanism is familiar. Hot air rises, bringing smoke and aerosols (particles of anything so small and evenly dispersed that they float in air) with it. What wasn't known until advances in satellite observation made opened a new window this century is that large wildfires can push water and smoke to the altitude of commercial airliners. Along the way the water vapor in a fire plume freezes and generates the electrical charge that generates thunder and lightning. The discovery also dispensed with the theory that only a large volcano, like Krakatoa, can boost aerosols above the mixing layers of the lower atmosphere to a height where they can spread around the globe in the jet stream. Every year there are dozens of pyrocumulonimbus over North America. Last summer's West Fork Fire in Colorado generated one to rival the monumental supercell thunderstorms of the Great Plains; in 2010 pyrocumulonimbus from wildfires in Siberia sent smoke across Europe, the Atlantic, and all the way to the Eastern US!