Fires in the West?

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Andy Young
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Fires in the West?

Post by Andy Young »

I’m going to be flying from Colorado to Alaska sometime later this month. Just wondering what the current fire/smoke scene is along my route. Specific routing to be determined at the time by weather, but I’ll be passing through B.C., possibly Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and northern Colorado.

Any insights from pilots living in those areas (or other knowledgeable folks) appreciated.

Thanks!
Last edited by Andy Young on Thu Sep 03, 2020 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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andy
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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by andy »

Do you know about the USFS wildfire map at https://www.fs.usda.gov/science-technol ... nformation?
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Andy Young
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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by Andy Young »

Thanks Andy,

I knew about that, but had forgotten. I’ll definitely dig into that. In addition, I’d love to get pilots’ perspectives on smoke levels and flying conditions. I usually don’t come south until October. By that time, it’s usually a non-issue; I could wait until then if it’s bad now, but I have some good reasons to do it earlier.

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Andy Young
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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by Andy Young »

I’ve found some good sites that show smoke plumes and density. They make it look like it might be wise to get east of the Rockies before crossing into the U.S., or at least far enough east to come into north Idaho or Montana on the way south, and avoid western and central Washington. Some depictions make it look like it’s quite smoky all along the Rockies. What I can’t tell from these sites is how much the smoke is obscuring visibility and restricting VFR flight, and therefore how much I should allow the smoke depictions to dictate my route.

So.....
Still hoping for some real-world input from pilots in those areas as to what they are seeing. Any PNW folks care to chime in?

Thanks.

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by wtxdragger »

Andy,

You probably know about this, but I saw it posted on Backcountry.

Thought it might help.

https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2020/09/ ... storm.html

https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/
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Andy Young
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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by Andy Young »

wtxdragger wrote:
Tue Sep 08, 2020 4:30 pm
Andy,

You probably know about this, but I saw it posted on Backcountry.

Thought it might help.

https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2020/09/ ... storm.html

https://cliffmass.blogspot.com/
Thanks; I hadn’t seen that, though I did see those fires depicted on the maps.

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by montana maule »

We have had very little smoke here in Cut Bank this year. Forecast for severe clear for the next week. I haven't heard of any big fires from here north to Edmonton.

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by Andy Young »

Thanks, Montana Maule,
Useful info. It does sound like biasing a bit more towards the east than I typically do might be prudent this time around. I usually drop into the U.S. around Spokane, or even go right down the coast to Bellingham, then cut towards Colorado, but those routes look quite fire-impacted right now.

Work was supposed to be done a week or so ago, but it keeps trickling in (for which I am grateful), so departure might be delayed a bit. Who knows, maybe the fires will be out by the time I get on my way.

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by merrymunks »

It's pretty bad in the Portland area. Made things IFR 2 days ago, not that bad currently but it changes with the wind.

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Last night's smoke plume, about 6 miles from KPDX

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Taken this morning about 10 minutes ago; that's not mist...
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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by flyingBC »

Pilots are grounded pretty much all across British Columbia at the moment due to smoke. Less than a mile viz in Vancouver/Squamish/Whistler corridor.

W

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by montana maule »

Smoke finally moved in here. 7 to 8 mile visibility around Cut Bank today. Still better than most places west of here.

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by Andy Young »

Thanks folks,

Still planning to leave later this week, depending on and will plan to go east of the Rockies while still well north of the smoke zones. Hopefully the smoke will be thin enough on the east side to still be navigable.
Feel free to post again if you see it getting bad enough that it doesn’t make sense to bother. I could always just hang out in Alaska for another few weeks.

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by montana maule »

It has cleared up here in Cut Bank. 20 mile visibility. Rain forecast for this weekend. Should help clear things up more. 24 hr. customs available at KCTB if you arrange with Sweetgrass CBP.

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by HeavyLoad »

I got stuck in Baker City, OR on my way back from Idaho. Nice and blue in most of the spots I was at there. But starting around eastern Oregon it turned nasty. I should have stayed in Idaho.

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Re: Fires in the West?

Post by flyusn99 »

Andy,
Just flew my M-5 down to Tim's from Juneau last week (Wed 9th), took the coast route started getting smokey around Campbell River. By Friday Puget Sound to Spokane was all LIFR. Smoke tops were FL220. I had 5 legs Friday (121) and all where to ILS mins, same the next day Saturday though the last turn to Pasco was CX since they were below mins calling 1/4 vis all day.
Flew 5 legs today, Seattle, Vancouver and Eugene and all were to ILS mins except last leg into Eugene tonight when the smoke cleared and had 10mi vis, OVC020. I'd say either wait another week or get down over into Montana. Good luck.

James

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