PREPARING FOR WILDFIRES
  • Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak

    Texas A&M Forest Service and the National Weather Service have identified an extremely dangerous fire weather phenomena known as a Southern Plains Wildfire Outbreak, or SPWO, and are watching for it to occur in portions of Texas this spring.

    The environment conducive to an SPWO is characterized by dry vegetation, dry west-southwest winds across an area with low relative humidity, above average surface temperatures, an unstable atmosphere and clear, sunny skies.

    SPWO events happen more often during La Niña years, which the Climate Prediction Center has forecasted to continue through the spring of 2021. Historically, La Niña conditions translate to warmer than normal, and drier than normal, conditions for Texas during the winter and spring months. Increasing the potential for high impact wildfire weather and SPWO events.

    An SPWO event is a force of nature, and much like a hurricane or tornado, it cannot be stopped. Since 2005, SPWO fires account for 3% of reported wildfires but have accounted for 49% of the acres burned.

    Texas A&M Forest Service’s Predictive Services Department provides short and long-term forecasts and analysis for fire potential. Learn more about Predictive Services and wildfire weather information.

    Also explore additional SPWO products such as public service announcements, flyer and graphics download and more.

     + Wildfire Alert

    A Wildfire Alert is issued by Texas A&M Forest Service when significant wildfire potential is high to very high for a specific region(s) of the state representing a 40 to 60% probability that a wildfire will occur in the specific region within the next 24 hours. Significant wildfires are very resistant to control and create a threat to public safety and property.

     + Wildfire Aware

    Stay Wildfire Aware before the wildfire starts. Prepare your family and home by assembling go kits, planning evacuation routes, creating defensible space around your home and staying aware of wildfire conditions in your area.


    Always do your part to prevent wildfires by being cautious with any activity that can create a spark.

     

    Wildfire Aware 2021 Graphic HQ jpeg

     

     

     + Prepare for Wildfires

    Go Kits!

    If you have to evacuate due to a wildfire, you should be prepared with a Go Kit that’s easily accessible to leave your home quickly. An emergency Go Kit should have enough food, water and necessary supplies for at least 72 hours.

    When building your kit, start with the 5 P’s; people and pet supplies, prescriptions, papers, personal needs and priceless items. You should also include supplies to help keep you and your family healthy, such as face coverings, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes. More information on Go Kits

    Protect Your Home

    The Wildland Urban Interface is a haven for those who want to live among nature. It is also an area where combustible homes are mixed with combustible vegetation. There are steps you can take to improve your home’s ability to survive during a wildfire. Read more ->

    Protect Your Community

    Wildfires know no boundaries. Over the past several decades, wildfires in Texas have invaded communities around the state, destroying thousands of homes and threatening lives. For this reason, a proactive approach to community-wide wildfire protection planning is necessary to reduce future loss. Read more ->

    Protect Your Ranch

    Wildfire on a ranch can be costly and dangerous. Help first responders by preparing for future wildfires.

    • Maintain a 30-foot barrier clear of burnable materials around fields and structures.
    • Inform your fire department about access roads, water sources, fence lines and preferred wildfire suppression tactics.
    • Establish contingency plans for feeding livestock, and create a plan to relocate livestock if fire is imminent and time permits.
    • Plan different routes to leave your property, as wildfire may make your usual routes unsafe.

     

     + FAQs

     

    What does La Niña mean for Texas? 

    SPWO events happen more often during La Niña years, which the Climate Prediction Center has forecasted to continue through the spring of 2021. 

     
    Historically, La Niña conditions translate to warmer than normal, and drier than normal conditions, for Texas during the winter and spring months. Increasing the potential for high impact wildfire weather and SPWO events.

     

    La Nina jpeg

    How often do SPWO events occur?

    An SPWO event is a force of nature, and much like a hurricane or tornado, it cannot be stopped. Since 2005, SPWO fires account for 3% of reported wildfires but have accounted for 49% of the acres burned.

    In the seven La Niña since 2005, 20 times more acres have burned, 5.7 million acres, than in the eight non-La Niña years, 280,511 acres, across Texas.  

     

    SPWO La Nina jpeg

    What are freeze cured grasses?

     

    Once winter months and freezing temperatures move in, the growing season ends and grasses cure, turn brown and become dormant. During this phase, grasses are not actively growing, meaning they are not replenishing and maintaining their moisture levels as they do when they are green.

    Freeze cured grasses dry out very quickly and are susceptible to ignition from any spark, starting a wildfire. Grass wildfires can spread very quickly and put residents and communities in the path of danger.