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The Southern California Wildfires of 2003

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Title: The Southern California Wildfires of 2003


1
The Southern California Wildfires of 2003
  • James K. Purpura
  • Meteorologist-In-Charge
  • NWS, San Diego, Ca

2
Description of Fires
  • One of the most costly disasters in California
    History
  • 2,000,000,000 losses
  • 2nd costliest in Ca. history in terms of lives
  • 22 killed

3
Description of Fires
  • 3,600 Homes Destroyed
  • Nearly 740,000 Acres Burned
  • NWS Property Damaged or Destroyed

4
Video of Paradise and Cedar Fires(10/26/03)
5
Location Map of Wildfires Fire Starts From
10/21 thru 10/26
6
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9
Int 15 N Miramar Way - Note that cars are being
turned around
10
The fire moves south down Oak Canyon toward the
52 freeway.
11
Aerial view of the fire line along Route 15 near
Miramar Air Station.
12
A San Diego police officer backs his car off
Clairemont Mesa Blvd just east of I-15 as the
fire flares up on the north side.
13
Fire rages on the east side of the I-15 at
Clairemont Mesa Blvd
14
Traffic backed up on I-15 from closures forced by
the wildfires
15
Another view of I-15 near Miramar
16
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17
The fire line nears a Scripps Ranch development.
These are fairly new 600,000 - 700,000 homes.
18
The fire line nears a Scripps Ranch development.
19
A large home burns out of control in Ramona
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24
A typical scene in some of the ranch areas in San
Diego County
25
A horse is kept at the Valley View Casino after
being rescued from the fire in Valley Center in
Sunday
26
Ventura County firefighters look at a firewhirl
from a wildfire, Sunday, in Simi Valley
27
A home burns along North Lake Wohlford Road at
Valley Center Road on Sunday morning
28
Timeline for NWS
  • First threat of Fire Danger Mentioned on 6 a.m.
    HWO Wed 10/22
  • As it appeared threat was imminent, significant
    event briefings were held for staff beginning
    Wed. 10/22
  • A Special Weather Statement was issued 1130 am
    Friday to alert the public of the increasing
    threat of fires, especially by Sunday

29
Timeline Part 2
  • Wind Advisory issued 230 PM Friday
  • Through Sat PM
  • Mentioned High Wind Warning may be needed Sat
    night and Sunday
  • Narrative warned of extreme fire danger in lower
    elevations of the mountains and foothills and
    said winds will be stronger Sunday

30
Timeline Part 3
  • High Wind Watch issued 930 PM Friday for Saturday
    night and Sunday

31
Timeline Part 4
  • Red Flag Warning issued 1045 AM Saturdaybelow
    mountain passes and canyons

32
Timeline Part 5
  • High Wind Warning/Wind Advisory issued 830 AM
  • Through 9 PM Sunday
  • Cancelled 200 PM Sunday
  • Wind Advisory through 2 PM Monday
  • CEM issued 200 PM Sunday
  • Fire Emergency across north and east portions of
    San Diego Metro area

33
Electronic Equipment was adversely affected by
the fires
  • Fire burned up to the KNKX radar
  • Destroyed data and power lines
  • Destruction of trailers at KNKX upper air site
  • Destroyed phone and power lines

34
Electronics TimelineSunday, 10/26/2003
  • ESA received call at home that the KNKX RDA
    wideband line was down.
  • ESA attempted to travel to site, saw fire
    surrounding RDA buildings.
  • While at the WFO, ESA found that Upper Air
    Facility was at minimum not reachable due to the
    fires.,
  • ESA called the Incident Command Post for the
    Cedar Fire and informed them that the Upper Air
    Facility had up to 20 tanks of compressed
    hydrogen stored at the site.

35
Monday, 10/27/2003
  • Upon arrival at WFO, ESA departed to assess
    damages to RDA and Upper Air Facility.
  • Initial assessment of RDA Site was no significant
    damage to the site itself.
  • Power was available to the equipment shelters
    thanks to the RDA emergency generator.
  • Equipment status was unknown.
  • Telecommunications and power lines were destroyed
    by fire.

36
Monday, 10/27/2003 (cont.)
  • Initial assessment of the Upper Air Facility
    revealed significant damage.
  • Contractor and Storage trailers were destroyed
  • Inflation building was damaged.
  • Hydrogen tanks appeared to be intact

37
Tuesday, 10/28/2003
  • Began environmental cleanup at Upper Air Facility
  • This was where we stored unused and waste oil,
    antifreeze and batteries.
  • Site cleanup was completed within 8 hours.

38
Tuesday, 10/28/2003 (cont.)
  • Image of a wooden power pole that used to provide
    electricity to the RDA

39
Tuesday, 10/28/2003
  • WFO San Diego MIC and ESA WRH and NWSHQ
    personnel conducted conference call to determine
    a plan of action for the rebuild and restoration
    of the Upper Air facility.
  • Initial plans were for NWSHQ to send out and
    install a temporary Radiosonde system
  • Temporary facilities including a trailer,
    generator, and portable office building were
    ordered.

40
Wednesday, 10/29/2003
  • Hydrogen contractor arrived at UAF. Inspection
    of tanks showed no damage. All hydrogen tanks
    were removed from site.
  • Site debris cleanup contractor began removal of
    damaged trailers and other equipment.
  • ROC personnel en route to San Diego to install
    wireless solution to get data from WSR-88D.
  • NWSHQ Upper Air personnel arrived on site to
    begin site assessment and installation of a
    backup UA system.
  • Received notification from IMET on Grand Prix
    fire in San Bernardino that power had been
    removed to the Strawberry Peak area for
    firefighter safety.

41
Thursday, 10/30/2003
  • Began installation of upper air system in
    temporary trailer and using inflation building to
    mount the antennas.
  • Began the installation of wireless equipment for
    the WSR-88D system
  • Site debris removal completed by end of day.
  • Took delivery of generator and got power
    established at the Upper Air facility to the
    temporary trailer and inflation building.

42
Friday, 10/31/2003
  • ROC Engineers completed installation of wireless
    equipment. Wideband connection established, but
    would drop out periodically.
  • Troubleshooting showed that one of the radios was
    possibly failing causing the occasional drop out
    on the link.
  • A new radio was ordered and set for delivery on
    Saturday.

43
Friday, 10/31/2003 (cont.)
  • Upper Air installation of temporary upper air
    system progressing well. System installed and
    being tested, some minor problems with hardware
    were found and repaired.
  • First balloon release (non-synoptic) was
    accomplished late Friday afternoon.
  • Data from balloon release was hand-carried to WFO
    for entry into AWIPS (No phone line available at
    time!)

44
Saturday, 11/01/2003
  • ROC Engineers received new radio, installed and
    tested it in the system.
  • Found that the wideband was still dropping out,
    worked to improve physical connections between
    all three sites.
  • Upper Air Site, found that software loaded on PC
    to collect data from flight was European encoded
    rather than North America encoded.
  • NWSHQ personnel bought a new computer locally and
    installed the North America encoded software.
  • First synoptic flight using temporary system and
    cellular electronic connection between system and
    SGX AWIPS performed at 00Z, 11/02/2003.

45
Sunday, 11/02/2003
  • Narrowband radar data again received from KNKX
    RDA.
  • Upper Air releases continue on schedule. All
    upper air contract personnel are trained on the
    use of the new equipment and data transfer
    procedures.

46
Monday, 11/03/2003
  • WFO San Diego ET and WRH SFT traveled to NWR site
    at Strawberry Peak to evaluate system status.
  • Found site off-air, with emergency power
    generator not running.
  • Troubleshooting generator problem which was
    quickly fixed.
  • NWR Transmitter restored to normal operations at
    1130 PST.

47
Summary of Equipment Outage and Restoration Times.
  • KNKX WSR-88D
  • Outage began Sunday, October 26, 2003 at 0900
    PST.
  • System restored Partly Operational on Sunday,
    November 2, 2003 at 1300 PST.
  • Commercial power restored Friday, November 7,
    2003 at 1000 PST. System fully restored on
    Monday, November 10, 2003 at 1345 PST.
  • Total time system down 172 hours.
  • NKX Upper Air
  • Last normal release Sunday, October 26, 2003
    at 1200Z.
  • First official release using W9000 system
    Sunday, November 2, 2003 at 0000Z.
  • Total time system down 156 hours. Missed 13
    flights.

48
Summary of Equipment Outage and Restoration
Times. (cont.)
  • TPSC1 San Bernardino Mountains NOAA Weather
    Radio
  • Logged out on Wednesday, October 29, 2003 at 2000
    PST. This time is estimated based on IMET report
    that the power was cut to mountain for
    firefighter safety.
  • System restored on Monday, November 3, 2003 at
    1130 PST. Reason for system outage was a failed
    battery on the Emergency Power Generator locate
    at NWR transmitter site.
  • Total time system down 111.5 hours.

49
The Southern California Wildfires of 2003
  • James K. Purpura
  • Meteorologist-In-Charge
  • NWS, San Diego, Ca

QUESTIONS?
50
The Southern California Wildfires of 2003
  • James K. Purpura
  • Meteorologist-In-Charge
  • NWS, San Diego, Ca

Nows here a look at another type of hazardous
weather
51
Fallbrook/Temecula, Ca 2/19/05 1720Z
52
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53
The Southern California Wildfires of 2003
JIM PURPURA NWS SAN DIEGO 11440 W. Bernardo
Court, Suite 230 San Diego, Ca 92127 858-675-8700
x 222 jim.purpura_at_noaa.gov
  • James K. Purpura
  • Meteorologist-In-Charge
  • NWS, San Diego, Ca
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