AMU Emergency Management Public Safety

EDM Friday Briefing: Red Flag Warnings in Effect in Multiple US Locations

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for October 16, 2020: A Red Flag Warning is in effect for areas around the Cameron Peak Fire through Saturday evening; NOAA has issued its winter weather outlook for the 2020/2021 season which is being influenced by La Niña; customer data was compromised in a Barnes and Noble cyberattack; Northern California valleys and mountain ridges are likely to see high winds and gusts of up to 55 mph, increasing the fire risk for that region; targeted PSPS that began Wednesday are likely to continue for some customers in Northern California until Friday night; a jetpack manufacturer says reported sightings of jetpacks near LAX may not actually be jetpacks; the Cameron Peak Fire became Colorado’s largest-ever wildfire as of Wednesday evening; and Santa Ana winds and a heat wave prompted Red Flag Warnings for inland San Diego county.

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1) A challenging few days are ahead for firefighters assigned to the Cameron Peak Fire in Colorado. High winds and strong gusts have caused the fire to make a run to the east and prevented aircraft from flying to assist firefighters on the ground. Mandatory evacuations are still in effect. A Red Flag Warning is to begin Friday at 11 a.m. and last until Saturday at 8 p.m., due to critical fire weather, including forecast high winds of up to 70 mph, low humidity levels, and dry fuels.

2) The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released the winter weather outlook for the 2020/2021 season. Influenced by La Niña, weather for the three-month period from December to February includes warmer and likely drier weather for the southern United States. The northern U.S. is likely to see a winter with more precipitation, although not necessarily snow, while temperatures have an equal chance at above or below normal across most of the central part of the country.

3) Barnes and Noble revealed a massive cyberattack in emails to its customers Monday, noting that personal data was potentially exposed to the hackers. The attack breached data systems that held transaction information, including books and products bought, email addresses, and phone numbers, along with billing and shipping addresses that were stored. The company announced the cyberattack the day after a Nook outage, but assured customers that financial information was not impacted by the hack.

4) Diablo winds are affecting portions of Northern California and have prompted Red Flag Warnings in the Bay Area until Friday at 6 p.m. High winds, low humidity levels and temperatures that are well above normal have increased the risk for wildfires. The warning is in place for the North Bay Valleys, East Bay Valleys and the Santa Cruz mountains. Mountains and ridges are expected to see wind gusts of up to 55 mph, and wind gusts in the valleys are predicted to be up to 30 mph.

5) Targeted Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS) are in effect in portions of 24 counties in Northern California. The shutoffs began Wednesday and will continue until Friday evening or beyond for some areas, including locations in Contra Costa, Napa, and San Mateo counties. Once the all-clear has been given, crews must inspect lines via helicopter, vehicle or on foot to be sure no hazards exist before power can be restored to that area.

6) Two recent unconfirmed sightings of what some say were jetpacks near the Los Angeles International Airport may not have actually been jetpacks. According to reports, another possible jetpack sighting occurred on Wednesday at about 6,000 feet by a China Airlines flight. The previous sighting  occurred on August 30 at about 3,000 feet — one that was seen by pilots on two different flights. However, a jetpack manufacturer pointed out that jetpacks do not have those height capabilities at this time due to required fuel and reportedly believes they were large drones.

7) On Wednesday evening, the Cameron Peak Fire was mapped at 167,153 acres. It became the largest wildfire ever in Colorado history, surpassing the Pine Gulch Fire (July-September 2020), which burned a total of 139,007 acres. On Wednesday, a fire run consumed homes along the east near Buckhorn Creek, but according to Larimer County officials, a full assessment of the damages will take several days. InciWeb shows the fire to be 56% contained, with a total of 169,171 acres burned and at least 1,119 personnel assigned to the wildfire. Additional crews are ordered or on standby. Although evacuation orders have been lifted for many locations, mandatory evacuations, park, and road closures remain in effect, including in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

8) A heat wave is sweeping through Southern California, which has prompted Red Flag Warnings for parts of inland San Diego County. The warning was issued for the coastal slopes of San Bernardino, along with the Santa Ana mountains and the San Gorgonio Pass near Banning, California, after Santa Ana winds were forecast for the area beginning on Thursday night, bringing gusty winds and extremely low humidity levels (5 to 8%). The National Weather Service (NWS) noted that the highest winds and gusts were likely going to be below the region’s Cajon Pass. The Red Flag Warning will be in effect from 3 a.m. Friday morning until 6 p.m. Friday evening.


Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.

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