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"It really was the perfect storm."

--Lisa Spencer, chief meteorologist at WSMV-TV in Nashville, Tennessee, on the wildfires that devastated Gatlinburg in November. What started as a slow-moving fire rapidly escalated due to wind speeds ahead of a cold front that gusted up to 87 mph, which is hurricane-force strength. Exacerbating the situation were the extreme drought conditions, with rainfall deficits up to 20 inches in and around Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The absence of the fog that typically covers the mountain range worsened the already dry atmosphere, and the fire spread at an unprecedented rate. More than 17,000 acres were affected, at least 14,000 residents from local communities had to evacuate, and 11 people died. "This is a fire for the history books," said Gatlinburg Mayor Mike Werner. "It's unlike anything we've ever seen." [Sources: Climate Central,]

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Publication:Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2017
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