Residents of La Marque and Hitchcock as well as motorists along state Highway 6 and Interstate 45 will likely notice large plumes of smoke coming from the University of Houston’s Coastal Center today. The fire will be deliberately set and is part of a training exercise.

The Fire Weather Research Laboratory of the San Jose State University’s Department of Meteorology and Climate Science in California and the Texas Forest Service will ignite a prescribed burn to help measure the atmospheric affects that happen during a wildland fire on a tallgrass prairie.

The data collected from the Fire Flux II experiment will be used to better understand the knowledge of the behavior of wildland fires, according to a news release from San Jose State University.

Galveston County Emergency Management Coordinator David Popoff said he was concerned drivers would be distracted when they see flames and smoke coming from the coastal center, which is along FM 2004 between state Highway 6 and I-45 in La Marque near Jack Brooks Park.

The fire should be ignited between noon and 2 p.m. as more than 155 acres of grass are burned.

Winds are expected to be northwest by north. A helicopter flying overhead will record the experiment, officials said.

The La Marque and Texas City Fire Departments will assist in the experiment as well as Popoff’s office. The Houston/Galveston Office of the National Weather Service, U.S. Forest Service, University of Utah, University of Corsica, University of Houston, University of Houston Coastal Center, NASA and Helicopter Services will take part as well.

Contact Mainland Editor T.J. Aulds at 409-683-5334 or

(28) comments

George Croix

There's probably some good reason why San Jose State U., in California, is burning up Texas instead of their own state's land.
Three guesses.

Lars Faltskog

Because.........they're the dreaded liberals out there in crazy Californney!!! So, they delegate it to us Texans. We gotta secede - now I'm convinced.

"controlled burn"

/cough/ My eyes now are watering, and I'm choking already.

Robert Buckner

According to the city of LaMarque's website, there is a burn ban in effect. Maybe that is a typo and so I'll ignite the brush pile on the lot next door

Kevin Lang

Sarcasm ON

Since California is just one huge wasteland cesspool, the reason for coming to Texas can't possibly be that there aren't 155 acres they could burn in California that isn't currently being farmed, privately owned, or in close proximity to residential or commercial developments.

Sarcasn OFF

I'm sure there's a good chance there's some kind of sordid conspiracy in this, but there's probably also some really good rationale behind this choice of land. Probably a healthy dose of both.

If it turns out to provide valuable information that TDF can use this summer in containing, controlling, and extinguishing wildfires during this and coming summers, who cares whose researchers performed the studies?

I hope this isn't the prelude to another one of those NMI, NIH, or NIMBY stances that are all too common in our society these days. If something is a good thing, it shouldn't matter whose idea it was, where it was invented, or whose backyard it's in.

Paul Hyatt

Of course people with health conditions that are down wind of this area are not to be considered or thought of....

Robert Buckner

I've seen some forecast of a possibility of fairly gusty winds too for Wednesday.

George Croix

Of course. There's so much yet to be learned about burning grass, and there's always the possibility that something else besides smoke and ash will effect the atmosphere from the burn. Perhaps some residual scorched small animal hair or vaporized bird poop climate changing learnings.
Maybe they just couldn't get the people's republic of California to issue a permit for a burn, or the landowner figured out an OPM funded way to legally clear his land, or just coincidence.
Those are my three guesses.

Kevin Lang

It's only a little smoke (he writes sarcastically). I'm sure we can't take it for granted that they've covered all the bases for this, and will not start the fire if they won't be able to avoid smoking out all the neighbors or keep the fire within the prescribed fire lines. After all, haven't there been a few wildfires over the past few years that started as "controlled burns"? We do, though, hope they really have taken all these into account, and will err on the side of caution if anything doesn't seem quite right tomorrow.

Kevin Lang

gecroix, considering the number of out-of-control wildfires that this state, and this nation, have seen over the past few years, there evidently is still a bit they haven't learned about the nature of grass fires.

From the article here, it sounds like the bulk, if not the entirely of the grass to be burned is on land owned by the University of Houston. So, I guess the landowner getting the benefit from this burn would be the State of Texas.

I'd keep the objections quiet, because I'd bet there's a federal dollar or two involved in this, and if Obama hears about this, he's gonna have to quench this, lest there be any implication that he's letting federal dollars flow to the highly hated State of Texas.

With all the Climatology, Meteorology, Agricultural, and Forestry programs in the California university systems, I'll bet that there are lots of controlled burn permits issued all the time out there. Just guessing, but based on the climate profiles in California, much of the tall grasses they could burn in California at this time of year are probably green and growing. By the time they could run this experiment in CA, we, and they, will already be well into wildfire season. I admit, though, that I'm speculating. Judging your speculation and mine, I think yours is more creative. Both yours and mine may be equally wrong, however. More than likely, the real reasons are much more sordid than either of us would dream to imagine.

Which leads me to believe that this is something that Rick and Jerry cooked up in some online beer with tequila and merlot chasers bash. I tell you, we need to keep the liberals and the conservatives from socializing. The results just aren't pretty.

Island Bred

Oh honestly - we have body parts in various stages of decay up near huntsville and y'all are whinning about a little grass fire????

If you notice it's for educational purposes..... oh yeah I forgot it's Texas and education isn't that important........ sigh.

Marine One

"it's Texas and education isn't that important" seems rarely a day goes by without the same type of negative jabs at the very state that you live in.
Grand idea - pack it up and move.

Lars Faltskog

Well, BOI - not all of us see the mentality of "the sky is falling" as very positive either. There's all kinds of incenerators burning hospital wastes, all kinds of propane gas centers, refineries with volatile gaseous substances.

If the news of this upcoming burn had not been printed we all would be back talking about other earth-ending issues such as guns being taken away from "honest" folk, or distraught folks jumping off of bridges.

George Croix

It's no wonder things are done the way they are, considering the cheering section.
No doubt you're right. All they have to do is burn off a field each time when the wind is from each of the 360 deg of the compass. And for each of those, with the wind blowing at every speed from nothing up to hurricane force. And for each of those, with a humidity from zero to 100%, and with each different grass/weed/bush as the majority of flora, and...etc.
Rough guess, take about 200 years and burn half the planet, and you'll know all there is to know about grass fires...
Wait. I forgot to figure in doing each variable with a different extinguishing agent. And with firefighters with different length legs to allow for variables in chasing down hot spots. And then there's...
Usually, I have to go to the circus for entertainment like this. But, it's free with a subscription right here.
I like the clowns best.

Island Bred

I love my state and the jab isn't at the state - that's your first mistake - you just don't get it.

It's the leadership........... why do I have to keep explaining this simple stuff to ya???

Oh yeah - education........ LMAO

I just live to trip your trigger BOI - it's just too easy.

Kevin Lang

Hey, I'm for healthy skepticism as much as the next person. Don't label me as part of the cheering session. This could be something as simple as the baking soda and vinegar experiments we did in chemistry, or there could be more significant objectives. I don't know. But, I'm not going to just jump in and drink the "must be some government plot to waste my tax dollars" kool-aid, either.

Based on the information at hand, I certainly don't see this to be any more potentially hazardous to our lives as the bargefuls of oil they'll burn in Texas City tomorrow. Sure, there may be just as much new learned in each burn, but I just don't know of many good reasons to call off either.

As for the "free" part of the entertainment, I believe you're actually paying $13/month for this.

Lars Faltskog

Some folks apparently failed the TAKS test in regard to "making inferences" and "sarcasm" in speech.

Article link: "Why Liberals Are More Intelligent Than Conservatives"

Kevin Lang

Sometimes we repeat someone else's experiment so we know exactly what they saw, and sometimes we do it to see if we can see something they didn't. Either is a valid reason for an experiment. I seriously doubt that Fleming was the first person that grew mold on oranges. Perhaps tomorrow's experiment won't yield anything new, but just a charred patch of prairie. However, it's possible that someone will gain a perspective they wouldn't have received had they just read a text or watched a video. If someone learns something that eventually allows our homes to not fall victim to a wildfire, perhaps the experiment will be worthwhile. Perhaps not, but I guess that's why the call them experiments. Let's see the costs and the yields before we call it science or waste.

George Croix

Been taking this paper for over 4 decades so I can check each morning to see who's not going to be doing any more morning paper reading. When one of them is me, I'll quit taking the paper.
I do not own a bird, so all else is to catch paint drips, clean the trucks' windshields, and entertainment.
This type entertainment is relatively new. When I used to write articles for publication (when the paper would do so) , one was required to use their real name. It kept the interchanges, if not agreeable, at least not slanderous. Or childish.
I was even kicked off a few years back (and stayed off until recently when the new format left way to much hot air blowing in unopposed from the west as old reliable voices of dissent demurred or stopped posting) for simply reminding one 'tough guy' that I was listed in the phone book if he wanted to find me. Besides, most of the people on my side of the issues who came along from then to now were far better writers and viewpoint defenders and makers than I, anyway.
The current crop of madeups and cartoon characters, by way of contrast, are secure in their anonymity, or at least think they are, so feel free to pop off and make comments that they'd never have the nerve to make in person or if their real identity was easily known. I read your entries, kevjlang, because you've got stones enough to use your real name, disagree or not. I no longer bother with the cartoon character. And if the one with the constantly falling off butt wasn't so utterly humorous by way of being so wrong so often, I'd stop there, too. But, everyone needs a smile daily.
Subject matter wise, maybe you're right, after all. Perhaps if we keep burning that grass, we'll get a different outcome besides smoke and ash.

Kevin Lang

You probably have a lot of correct in your perspective, too. After all, despite all of the weather data we've collected over the last few hundred years, about the best the weather forecasters can do still is tell us whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring right now or 10 minutes ago. Anything more than a few minutes into the future, and you and and I can probably guess right as often as they do. When I left for work this morning, the prediction was that I would need my umbrella to walk from my desk to my car. Dry as a bone, though, and they were saying the rain was still 6 to 8 hours away. Maybe the best we'll get out of this is a field that might not be able to fuel a big fire this summer. The engineer/scientist in me does place value in the process, even if it doesn't yield near-term value.

Leonard T. Payne

Now would be a good time to burn that old pile of dead trees in my pasture.
LMFD will be 5 miles away.
It will be for educational purposes only.
Lightning strikes in mysterious places.

Lars Faltskog

I would think this would be called off for today, as the winds are still strong - at least that's what I heard when just a few moments ago when Casey Curry was doing the weather - with her standard (red) dress wrap-around.

As for journalism "integrity", I blame the early 80s onset of "Entertainment Tonight" and the likes of "Geraldo"...or maybe even further back with what's-his-name - Marlo's husband's talk show. If you see things today, you've got Mcjournalists co-hosting shows like "The View". Only Barbara Walters there has a solid background. Secondarily, the ex-teacher Behar. Ipsofacto - whenever I see a newsshow, "talkshow" or read the paper or an article on the internets - I read it also for entertainment value.

Leonard T. Payne

I hope a hot flying ember from that controlled burn doesn't fall into my pasture.

Stephen Murphy

Fire Weather Warning
Statement as of 7:33 AM CST on January 30, 2013

... Red flag warning in effect until 6 PM CST this evening for dry
and windy conditions for portions of southeast Texas...

The National Weather Service in Houston/Galveston has issued a
red flag warning... which is in effect until 6 PM CST this

* Affected counties... Houston... Trinity... Madison... Walker...
San Jacinto... Polk... Burleson... Brazos... Washington...
Grimes... Montgomery... Liberty... Colorado... Austin... Waller...
Harris... Chambers... Wharton... Fort Bend... Jackson...
Matagorda... Brazoria... Galveston.

* Wind... northwest wind 20-25 mph with gusts 30 to 35 mph.

* Humidity... falling to 19 to 25 percent.

* Impacts... any fires that develop will likely spread rapidly.
Outdoor burning is not recommended.

Precautionary/preparedness actions...

A red flag warning means that critical fire weather conditions
are either occurring now... or will shortly. A combination of
strong winds... low relative humidity... and warm temperatures will
create explosive fire growth potential.

Marine One

Ignorance is bliss, eh IB ?

Bobby Hocking

Ladies and Gents.. In my roll as Mayor, I have asked that the "burn" be cancelled! Authorities will be meeting at 11:00 AM to make that call!

Bobby Hocking

FYI: In my role as Mayor, i have asked that the "burn" be cancelled! Authorities should be making that call at their 11:00 am meeting.

Bobby Hocking

Sorry for the double (now triple) post! I guess I should have waited for the official approval of my original post!

Kevin Lang

Mayor Hocking, is that request just due to the increased risk due to the high winds, or is it on the principle of the matter?

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