It looks like 2012 is going to be a busy year for the wildland fire community in Florida and possibly nationwide. Things are already getting busy in the north central part of the state with several fires around Gainesville and another fire burning on Cumberland Island in south Georgia. The Florida Forest Service meteorologist released his forecast for this spring on Jan. 5th. Due to the ongoing drought through much of the state, it is expected that wildland fire potential will be at or above normal conditions.
Direct from the Florida Forest Service spring forecast summary:
Overall, the current conditions and forecasts indicate near to above normal fire potential in the short term. Some areas, such as the Panhandle, will see lesser potential in this near term thanks to the impact of recent rainfall. In the long term, however, the area of above normal wildfire potential will expand. The worst conditions are in the northern tier of the state, where long term rain shortages and drought conditions exist, and the beneficial impacts of December rainfall should fade with expected below normal precipitation. A similar expansion of above normal fire potential in the peninsula should also occur, as below normal rainfall should exacerbate conditions in areas that were assisted in the fall by slugs of tropical moisture that moved through in the late hurricane season.
To monitor the Florida Forest Service fire weather information, visit their page here. Also check out INCIWeb as a decent site to monitor national large fire incident activity through the year, although there are many fires that don’t make it to that site. For more regional assessments of drought conditions this spring check out the Florida Automated Weather Network (FAWNS) and the NOAA PDSI archive page (disregard the warning screen).