Punishing Southeastern drought culminated in a late-November wildfire disaster in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, just as rain began to fall across the Great Smoky Mountains. However, before rain helped to douse the flames, howling southerly winds in advance of a cold front on November 28–29 downed power lines and spread embers from the Chimney Tops 2 fire across more than 17,000 acres, resulting in the tragic loss of 14 lives, at least 53 commercial structures, and more than 2,000 residences, according to preliminary reports. Dozens of other large Southeastern fires burned in November before rain arrived. Air quality was reduced, and well over 100,000 acres of timber and brush were charred.
Weatherwise Contributing Editor BRAD RIPPEY is the U.S. Editor of the Weekly Weather and Crop Bulletin of the Joint Agriculture NOAA Weather Facility.
Weatherwise Contributing Editor JEFFREY B. HALVERSON is Professor of Geography at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.