Mother Nature cooperated and dampened the six fires yesterday in the Druid Fire Complex, allowing Park officials to reopen trails and better monitor smouldering areas.
As rain soaked the southern tier of Yellowstone National Park Monday midday, a major impact was made on the Alum Fire northwest of Fishing Bridge: Slow-moving blanket-shaped clouds left about 1/3 inch of rain in the area. That fire had shown more heat Sunday than in the past week, leading National Park Service officials to consider closing the Grand Loop Road and curtailing access in the area. With the rain, growth in the Alum Fire has been slowed for another week or so. As a result, many overlooks and picnic areas will reopen today along Grand Loop Road between Fishing Bridge and the Mud Volcano area. Only one two-mile “no stopping” section remains between Nez Perce Ford and LeHardy Rapids.
As some rain remains in the forecast, fire behavior analysts saw both sides Monday: “We may be out of the woods, and we may not,” regarding extensive further spread of the Alum Fire. Either way, the Alum Fire is refreshing the lodgepole pine forest landscape.
However, less precipitation fell in the northern reaches of the park, where the Druid fire soaked up only 1/10 inch. Still, Tuesday morning saw dense fog about sunrise in low areas, as the ground gives up some of its extravagant moisture. The Druid Fire is more likely to show smoke in coming days than are the other five lightning fires that have been smoldering in the park.
Efforts to measure the rain were impacted in an amusing fashion: A bison rubbed and tipped the rain can of the “RAWS” remote access weather station in Hayden Valley. Firefighters depend on RAWS measurements when they predict fire spread. A National Weather Service meteorologist assigned to the Druid Complex recalibrated the instrument.
Tuesday should be partly cloudy in the morning, with a stray thunderstorm in the afternoon. Humidity will stay high at 35 percent or more, depending on how much sunshine appears. Wednesday begins a drier trend once more. 126 remaining fire personnel are supporting hand rehabilitation of the indirect fireline that they improved in developed areas near the Grand Loop Road. Fire staffing goes up and down based on potential fire activity.
Image of fire personnel taken Aug. 21, Alum Fire. Courtesy National Park Service.