AIR QUALITY INFORMATION
For Thursday, forecasters have predicted Code Purple conditions, or very unhealthy, for McDowell County and the city of Marion. Everyone should avoid all outdoor activities in Code Purple areas.
General Forecast Discussion: Tonight, the boundary layer will rapidly crash -- while winds decouple -- after sunset as the pressure gradient remains weak over the state. Smoke will likely begin to increase in concentration and coverage across much of
western NC in the vicinity of the ongoing fires, similar to last night. With the location of new and growing fires in Watauga County (and potentially Cherokee County), along with the continuing fires in McDowell County and one each in extreme northern GA and SC, it is anticipated that smoke coverage will be widespread tonight from a line roughly extending from Rutherford County up through Alleghany County and west. It is possible -- like last night -- that some locations could see several hours of particle pollution concentrations over 100 micrograms. With winds light overnight, dewpoints gradually increasing into the upper 30s to lower 40s, minimal cloud coverage and light winds along with abundant smoke, it is possible that super fog could form in some valley and wind-sheltered locations by sunrise tomorrow. Visibilities could be severely limited before this fog would begin to dissipate after 9am.
Tomorrow the synoptic pattern will feature a very weak surface pressure gradient across NC as the southeastern US remains positioned between a weak surface low dissipating over the Great Lakes and weak surface high pressure centered near Bermuda. Aloft, an upper level ridge will continue to be pushed offshore by a series of upper level disturbances lifting into New England. The results will be increasing southwesterly winds from H85 upwards, with light and variable winds at the bottom and middle of the mixed layer. What this will likely result in is a slow increase in winds through the day -- with direction becoming southwesterly -- as the boundary layer rises through lunchtime, before stronger winds near H85 begin to mix down to the surface later in the afternoon. This will likely result in smoke gradually pushing eastward during the day as these winds increase. It is because of this large spatial coverage of smoke that the extent of Code Red forecasts are so great tomorrow.
Outlook: On Friday, winds are expected to switch to primarily out of the west during the afternoon. The leading edge of a cold front will cross the region, but the primary wind shift and air mass change will likely lag behind the initial front. This may result in smoke moving towards the Triad, Charlotte and possibly even Triangle regions. On Saturday, the main even frontal passage should occur, resulting in a fresh, dry and cold air mass working into the region on increasing northwesterly winds. This should temporarily clear most of the state of smoke, except for locations immediately downwind of ongoing fires.
UWHARRIE NATIONAL FOREST
A fire ban was issued for the Uwharrie National Forest late yesterday 11/22/16. The fire ban prohibits building, maintaining, attending or using a fire or campfire (including charcoal based fire whether contained in a grill or not). The fire ban will remain in effect until further notice.
Note: Commercially available fuel stoves (camp stoves) are excluded from this restriction. Click HERE to see the news release.
NANTAHALA AND PISGAH NATIONAL FORESTS
For a total fire ban is in effect for the Nantahala and Pisgah National Forests, click HERE. For a list of the forty-seven western North Carolina counties closures, click HERE.
For current information on NCDOT road closures please visit: https://tims.ncdot.gov/TIMS/
Nantahala National Forest Closures
An area closure order (No. 08-11-09-17-02) for the Tusquitee Ranger District is in effect for lands, trails, and roads in the area surrounding the Boteler Fire
An area closure order (No. 08-11-00-17-03) for the Tusquitee and Nantahala Ranger Districts is in effect for lands, trails, and roads southeast of the Boteler Fire. The closed area extends south from Highway 64 to the Georgia border and includes the Southern Nantahala Wilderness. The Appalachian Trail is closed from the Nantahala Outdoor Center south to the Georgia border.
The following trails are also closed: Wesser Creek, Whitewater Falls, Foothills from NC Hwy 281 to the Bad Creek access, Bartram Trail from Wine Spring Bald west to Nantahala Lake, and Bartram Trail from the trailhead at NC 106 north and west to NC 1643 (Hickory Knoll Road).
ARSON REPORTING To report arson in your area click here.
TODAY'S UPDATES ON ACTIVE FIRES OR FIRE COMPLEXES
NEW FIRE START
MARTIN TRACE FIRE (NCFS - CLAY COUNTY): The fire is proximately five acres; updates will be provided in the Morning Summary.
CAMP BRANCH FIRE (USFS - MACON COUNTY)
A portion of Wayah Road (R1310) off of Hwy 64 is still closed from intersection of Wayah Bald Road (east) and intersection of Crawford Road (west). This fire has been moved under the same management of the Boteler Fire.
HORTON FIRE (NCFS - WATAUGA COUNTY)
Fire crews protected homes within and near the fire area. No structures were burned and debris removal and burnout operations continue around homes. Currently, fire suppression efforts are being supported by 4 SEATS, a Type 2 Helicopter and Air Attack.
The Appalachian District Health Department and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System are advising residents and visitors to be aware of the possibility of smoke from Sampson/Horton fire in the southern portion of Watauga County. For more information click HERE.
Acreage: 900 - Containment: 65% - Personnel: 125 - Start Date: November 21
PINNACLE MOUNTAIN FIRE (SCFS / USFS - PICKENS AND TRANSYLVANIA COUNTIES)
Fire crews will continue burnout operations tomorrow. At this time, no evacuations are necessary; however, if conditions change residents will be notified by fire service personnel. South Carolina Forestry Commission is coordinating with North Carolina Forest Service and Transylvania County Emergency Services to keep residents informed of fire activity.
Table Rock State Park and the trail system remains closed; this includes trail closures from Caesar's Head to Sassafras. The Table Rock trail system will remain closed until a damage assessment can be made, hazards cleared and repairs made. Additional trails and roads closed: Foothills Trail, Dismal Trail and Gum Gap.
Table Rock State Park is expected to re-open in stages once State Park and Forestry Commission officials deem conditions safe for the public. The Table Rock Visitor Center off Highway 11 remains open to provide updates about the park and status of the fire.
Acreage: 7,282 - Containment: 37% - Personnel: 240 - Start Date: November 9
CLEAR CREEK FIRE (NCFS / USFS - MARION, MCDOWELL COUNTY)
The fire is expected to continue backing down to Hwy NC80 this evening and into the night. Fire growth is expected to the North and West. Firefighters have been assigned to structure protection in the area.
A portion of Hwy. N.C. 80 is still closed from Toms Creek Road to the Blue Ridge Parkway at the Yancey County line. A 41-mile marked detour takes motorists on U.S. 221 north, to U.S. 226 west in Spruce Pine, to U.S. 19E west at Micaville, then back down U.S. 80.
Acreage: 2,100 - Containment: 10% - Personnel: 224 - Start Date: November 20
MAPLE SPRINGS FIRE (USFS-LAKE SANTEELAH AREA, GRAHAM COUNTY)
Crews continue to patrol, mop up, and maintain containment lines on both fires. Crews have started rehabilitating dozer lines and other areas where fire-suppression actions have disturbed the landscape. Seeding those areas will help reduce the potential for erosion due to rainfall and runoff.
Acreage: 7,788 - Containment: 69% - Personnel: 263 - Start Date: November 4
TELLICO FIRE (USFS-NANTAHALA GORGE AREA, SWAIN AND MACON COUNTIES)
Due to the mop-up work completed along firelines, the fire should be put in patrol status soon. Firefighters continue to patrol the perimeter, blowing leaves off containment lines and extinguishing any remaining hotspots smoldering in duff, freshly fallen leaves or stumps.
Acreage: 13,874- Containment: 91% - Personnel: 258- Start Date: November 3
BOTELER FIRE (USFS-CHUNKY GAL AREA, CLAY COUNTY)
Management of the Maple Springs and Old Roughy fires was moved under the Southern Blue Incident Management Team, which is managing all the fires in the Boteler and Nantahala Fire Complex.
Also moved under the Southern Blue IMT was the Camp Branch Fire in Macon Co, north of Wayah Road. The initial fire location is west of Camp Branch Creek. The fire was detected by night operations at 100 acres and is now 400 acres. Helicopters worked dropping water today to slow its growth.
Leaf fall continued to challenge containment efforts by covering firelines. Firefighters regained control of the fire north of the junction of East and West Vineyard Roads and east of FS Road 6226; it poses no immediate threat. Firefighters continued patrolling and monitoring existing firelines, clearing them out as necessary in an attempt to prevent escape into unburned areas. Leaf fall has resulted in some interior reburns, which firefighters are monitoring. Hotspots detected by aircraft using infrared cameras are being closely monitored and extinguished when firefighters can safely access them.
Acreage: 9,043- Containment: 77% - Personnel: 270 - Start Date: October 25
PARTY ROCK FIRE (NCFS-LAKE LURE AREA, RUTHERFORD, BUNCOMBE, AND HENDERSON COUNTIES)
Firefighters patrolled for hot spot that were close to containment lines. Firefighters will patrol, re-clear the lines where needed and "grid" the fire perimeter. Gridding is a methodical process of making sure every piece of ground along the perimeter is free of active fire.
Acreage: 7,171 - Containment: 54% - Personnel: 651 - Start Date: November 5
CHESTNUT KNOB FIRE (NCFS-SOUTH MOUNTAINS STATE PARK, BURKE COUNTY)
Fire operations will include mop up and holding the fireline in all divisions.
Acreage: 6,435 - Containment: 65% - Personnel: 257 - Start Date: November 6
ROCK MOUNTAIN FIRE (USFS - SOUTHERN NANTAHALA WILDERNESS AREA, NORTH GEORGIA AND CLAY AND MACON COUNTIES IN NC)
Evacuations remain in effect, and the containment line near Tate City has been extended to the end of Tallulah Road into North Carolina. Operations today focused on protecting homes and properties east of the fire in the areas of Betty's Creek Road and Patterson Gap. The structure protection group was staffed with additional personnel to strengthen and build on their work from yesterday. All dozer lines to protect the area was also expected to be completed today. Containment efforts continued on the northern edge of the fire.
Rock Mountain Fire Evacuations and Pre-Evacuations:
Rabun County, GA - Call 470-208-2866 for further information
Towns County, GA - Call 706-896-7460 for further information
Acreage: 16,698- Containment: 30% - Personnel: 467- Start Date: November 9
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