The 36th annual Mt. Kobau Star Party will begin at dusk August 15th, 2020 and will end at dawn August 23rd, 2020

Updates and informanion on the 2019 Richter Mountain Fire

All the updates and information on this file that started just before the Star Party in 2019 are contained on this page.

Update on status of Fire - Monday July 29th, 2019

Richter Mountain Fire now classified as "being held", meaning it's not expected to grow under the anticipated conditions. No longer "out of control". Not quite cause for celebration, but our alert status might be considered yellow instead of red.

Information from BC Parks and Conservation Officer Service Division Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy - Monday July 30th, 2019

Penticton Wildfire Branch had this update for today (Monday):

  • The fire showed little growth yesterday, currently at just over 400 Ha
  • The ignition plan (machine-guard and back burn) is looking less likely to be required
  • Fire is being actioned primarily by 145 ground crew members; also 9 aircraft and 9 pieces heavy equipment
  • Fire is showing less aggressive behaviour in the last 24 hours, but that could change rapidly with wind
  • The most likely time of day for an evacuation notice to be called is late afternoon (~1800h)
  • RDOS/BC Wildfire would be the agencies calling the evacuation order, which would be communicated to BC Parks and on to Jim Failes
  • BC Wildfire are aware of the star party using the top of Kobau and will give as much advance warning as possible

Please disclose to star party-goers that the potential for the road/park to close will continue for the duration of this wildfire, regardless of its day-to-day behaviour changes. Although an evacuation order would obviously be the most notable update, we’ll pass along any other information as we receive it. BC Wildfire have capacity to prioritize this fire and are actioning it heavily, but the terrain and prevailing winds are likely to continue to push it closer to the park. All users of the road/park should be prepared to evacuate.

Please keep the following in mind:

  1. Participants decision to attend will be based on their individual level of risk-tolerance
  2. Make contingency plans in case the road/park closes (accommodation, etc)
  3. Keep on alert, especially for strong SE-SW winds
  4. Set up camp/telescopes etc. with evacuation in mind (be ready to leave)

Thanks,

Wendy Pope
Area Supervisor; South Okanagan Area
BC Parks and Conservation Officer Service Division Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
Penticton, BC

Star Party now open! Monday July 29th, 2019

We are now able to lift our postponement and open the star party. PLEASE NOTE that this does not mean there is no risk from the Richter Mountain Fire, only that the risk is down to an acceptable level, in our opinion. Fire conditions and the weather forecast seem stable in the immediate future, but this can change. Everyone must decide individually whether to come or not. We strongly advise star partiers to camp light and -- during daytime hours -- be ready to leave immediately should an evacuation call come. On the positive side, we are told that such a call is unlikely to come later than early evening, or overnight -- good news for astronomers! Staff are on site, snd the road is open. Hope to see you at MKSP 2019.

UPDATE Richter Mountain Fire - Sunday July 28th, 2019

Just heard from Jim Failes who stayed on the mountain last night. He is very optomistic that the Star Party can go ahead as of this morning.

That being said, he has been in contact with officials who, with an overabundance of caution, are recommending that people wait until tomorrow, Monday, to arrive at the site. At this point the fire officials say it would take an extreme change in fire activity to close the star party.

Hope to see you there!

Clear Skies! (as well as dark, transparent and steady)
Colleen O.

UPDATE Saturday July 27th, 2019

ATTENTION WOULD-BE STAR PARTIERS: We've had a call from our contact at BC Parks this morning (Saturday) expressing uncertainty about fire behaviour today. Winds are expected (for at least part of the day) to push the fire NE'ward towards Mt. Kobau, raising the prospect of a scenario in which fire approaches or reaches the Mt. Kobau Road. These winds are forecast for part of the day today, then should switch to nearly the opposite direction. Beyond the next 24 hours, weather should stablilize and make the future of the fire more predictable. Hence, today is a key day in assessing how much danger the fire may present to the star party. As a result of these developments, we are advising that star partiers NOT ARRIVE TODAY, and watch for updates on the advisability of arriving Sunday. All in all, Monday seems like the best choice of the first three days. Again, we will post updates here and on our web site as soon as new info is available. We expect to have at least one MKSP staff member on the mountain later today to watch for people who haven't seen these messages. The Mt. Kobau Road is currently open, but it would be closed if the fire approached to a degree deemed unsafe.

UPDATE Afternoon Friday July 26th, 2019

Good news. We're cleared to go ahead with the star party as planned. Wildfire BC officials at the Richter Mountain fire have been informed. They note that there will be some firefighting crews and equipment moving through to the fire via the Mt. Kobau Road (diverting to ranch roads part way up the mountain). They acknowledge the expected traffic of star party attendees on the road and are fine with that.

The fire's upward movement was well controlled yesterday and air and ground efforts continue today. Ground crews are on site day and night; air tankers and helicopters with buckets work during the day. This morning's highway closure was spurred by a brief *downhill* flare up. The fire has grown to 80 hectares -- still less than one sq km. Video of the fire on Global Okanagan news yesterday left me with the impression that smoke is not likely to be an issue (barring a major change in the fire, of course). This near-real time satellite timelapse, which we've used in the past, also shows minimal if any smoke. Link to weather.cod.edu

UPDATE Morning Friday July 26th, 2019 Temporary ROAD CLOSURE

As you may have heard, there's was a road closure, the road has been re-opened -- Drive BC reported Highway 3 from Keremeos to Osoyoos was temporarily closed due to the Richter Mountain wildfire. Travellers coming to Kobau from the west were advised to divert at Keremeos on Hwy 3A through Olalla to the Kaleden junction, then south to Osoyoos on Highway 97. From there, I assume "local traffic" would be allowed through the roadblock out Highway 3, where MKSP'ers would be able to access Mt. Kobau in the usual way. In the future check for updates on the highway closure through Drive BC www.drivebc.ca

On the happier side, Environment Canada is forecasting essentially nothing but clear skies for the first five nights of MKSP. And the wildfire size hasn't grown in almost 24 hours.

Recent Mt. Kobau Wildfire reported on July 24th, 2019

A small but still uncontrolled wildfire has been reported burning as of Wednesday (July 24) about 6 km southwest of the Mt. Kobau Star Party site. Ground and air crews are currently fighting the fire, which presents no imminent danger. Environment Canada's weather forecast for the nearby valleys cites expected light winds from the NW or N at about 20 km/hr, blowing any smoke or fire away from the star party site. Organizers of the MKSP are in touch with provincial officials to access up-to-date status reports on any threat this fire might pose to the star party in the coming days. We will send updated information as it becomes available. If you are travelling a large distance to MKSP and are wondering if your trip might be in vain, our best suggestion is to wait and see how (or if) the fire develops over the next day or two. As things stand, our plans for MKSP 2019 are unchanged. The star party is scheduled to begin at dusk on Saturday night, with a very promising outlook for clear skies.