Sequential disturbances within the 2016 Boteler Fire, Nantahala National Forest, NC
The Oct.-Nov. 2016 Boteler Fire was typical of the Nantahala National Forest fires that burned during a hot drought that fall. High severity burn patches were common on dry upper slopes and there were limited impacts to canopy in more mesic, lower slope positions. By mid 2017, spotty declines within and adjacent to these dry sites occurred, and this was likely caused by delayed tree mortality--a phenomenon that is known to occur up to several years after a fire where trees are stressed. However, it was surprising to see this large patch form in late 2017 in a previously unstressed, lower southeast-facing slope position. Post-fire mortality does not occur with such a large patches in this region. Further investigation showed that the cause was likely a 9/11/2017 downburst that occurred as the remnants of Hurricane Irma passed through the region. News reports suggest that substantial damage to trees occurred along the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway from this storm. According to Sentinel-2 time series, the damage happened between 9/7 and 9/27 2017 and leaf off imagery shows fallen trees.