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Brian McInerney. National Weather Service. Hydrologist. AMS Presentation on BAER. October 29th, 2009. What is BAER?. Burn Area Emergency Response. Mud Flow, Debris Flow, Landslide. Mud Flow is filled with clays, silt, and other fine grained debris

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brian mcinerney

Brian McInerney

National Weather Service


AMS Presentation on BAER

October 29th, 2009

what is baer

What is BAER?

Burn Area Emergency Response

mud flow debris flow landslide
Mud Flow, Debris Flow, Landslide
  • Mud Flow is filled with clays, silt, and other fine grained debris
  • Debris flow is filled with larger material like boulders, trees
  • It looks like wet cement
  • Landslides are slow moving and very deep.
  • Cracking cement, indoor plaster walls, and shifting landscapes are signs of landslides
baer teams
BAER Teams
  • Determines burn severity
  • Effects on Watershed
  • Identifies vulnerable areas
  • Identifies values at risk
  • Identifies debris flow potential
Seasoned Firefighter

Weather Forecaster

red card qualification
Red Card Qualification
  • Pack Test
    • 45 lbs 3 miles in 45 mns
  • Old Pack Test
    • Run 2 miles in 20 mns
    • Step Test
  • Physical fitness is a big deal
  • It’s important to be able to hike all day
fire behavior classes required
Fire Behavior Classes Required
  • A multitude of fire behavior classes are required
  • Training sessions are also part of the curriculum
  • I had experience in fire fighting in a past life
    • Firefighter during the 1986 Yellowstone fire
we warn for debris flows
We warn for Debris Flows
  • The reality of it is that people can die from these events
  • Debris flows occur often times on alluvial fans
  • More and more homes are built on alluvial fans
we needed to learn more
We Needed To Learn More
  • What better way than to survey the burn scar with other physical scientists
  • We can also impart info on rainfall intensities, volume, location and areal extents
  • We gain insight as to rainfall intensity and volume which produce debris flows
farmington debris flow april 6th 2004
Farmington Debris FlowApril 6th, 2004
  • Debris flow damaged multiple homes
  • On the initial assessment, I was told that they did not need a weather forecast and told me to go home
  • No one was injured or hurt
  • Hour lead time on flash flood warning
  • Almost had nervous breakdown
santaquin debris flow september 12 2002
Santaquin Debris FlowSeptember 12, 2002
  • Debris flow damaged 20 homes with 3 knocked off foundations
  • Toured burn scar with Utah Geologic Survey Geologists
  • Learned a great deal about debris flows
  • Briefed Santaquin City at Town Hall Meeting
  • Mayor cried at meeting
spring lake burn july 26th 2004
Spring Lake BurnJuly 26th, 2004
  • Debris flow damaged 2 homes and filled irrigation canal
  • Escorted visitor to burn site
  • Shirt was too small
  • Pants too big
  • Woman who lived in house destroyed was cleaning off furniture with Windex
corner canyon debris flow june 17th 2009
Corner Canyon Debris FlowJune 17th, 2009
  • Debris flow damaged 4 homes with serious damage to one
  • Worked with BAER team regarding debris flow potential
  • Hiked watershed and gained a very good understanding of burn severity, intensity, and hydrophobicity.
  • Briefed 120 members of the community, some of whom thought I was alarmist
  • Flash Flood Warning with 0 lead time
corner canyon debris flow
Corner Canyon Debris Flow

Burn Scar Perimeter

Debris Flow Path

Drainage Basins

debris flow damage area
Debris Flow Damage Area

Debris Flow Path

Burn Perimeter

corner canyon debris flow1
Corner Canyon Debris Flow

Area of heaviest rainfall

Large trench eroded here

USFS Debris Fences here

Photo compliments of the UGS

area that produced debris flow one hour frequency estimate
Area That Produced Debris FlowOne Hour Frequency Estimate

0.60 inches of rainfall in

1 hour occurs statistically at least once every 2 years or so over this area.

rainfall analysis of debris flow basin
Rainfall Analysis of Debris Flow Basin

Rainfall analysis at origin of Debris Flow

Instantaneous Rainfall Rate of near 0.80 inches per hour at time of debris flow

Radar estimate of 0.60 inches

rainfall analysis of basin just north of debris flow
Rainfall Analysis of Basin Just North of Debris Flow

Rainfall analysis of basin just to North of Debris Flow

Instantaneous Rainfall Rate of near 2.00 inches per hour at time of debris flow

Radar estimate of 1.00 inch

mill flat burn
Mill Flat Burn
  • Near New Harmony, Utah
  • Very steep slopes
  • High Burn Severity
  • High Burn Intensity
  • Areas of Hydrophobicity
alert weather station survey
Alert Weather Station Survey
  • Find proper location for Alert Weather Station (RAWS gage)
  • Line of Sight Radio Transmission
  • Upper drainage location
  • Accessible
  • 10 Steps
    • Bare Ground
    • Rock
    • Vegetation
  • At the end of the 10 steps take hydrophobicity test
  • 10 Steps again
    • Bare Grond Rock
    • Vegetation
  • Result is a survey of the slope in question
  • Hike to another drainage and continue the survey
where is the ship going
Where Is The Ship Going?
  • After the helicopter flew us to the top of the range, then took off without us, I felt sad
  • A very long day with 9 hours of surveys, hiking, and climbing
  • Descend 3000 ft. from summit area to New Harmony
  • As hard as these things are, it’s the best way to obtain data, and understand
contact information

Contact Information

Brian McInerney801.971.2033 [email protected]