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Assessing predictive services' 7-day fire potential outlook

Posted date: September 29, 2015
Publication Year: 
2015
Authors: Riley, KarinStonesifer, Crystal S.Calkin, Dave E.; Preisler, Haiganoush
Publication Series: 
Proceedings (P)
Source: In: Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 188-195.
Note: This article is part of a larger document.

Abstract

The Predictive Services program was created under the National Wildfire Coordinating Group in 2001 to address the need for long- and short-term decision support information for fire managers and operations personnel. The primary mission of Predictive Services is to integrate fire weather, fire danger, and resource availability to enable strategic fire suppression resource allocation and prioritization. Each Geographic Coordination Area (GCA) is comprised of individual forecast zones called Predictive Service Areas (PSAs). In 2006, Predictive Services began production of the 7-Day Significant Fire Potential Outlook for each PSA on weekdays during the core fire season to support efforts at informed regional and national fire suppression resource allocation and prepositioning. The Fire Potential Forecasts are made on a categorical scale of 1 to 9 for the current day and each of the subsequent 6 days, by combining the following factors: forecasted fuel dryness level, ignition triggers (from lightning and recreation), critical burn environment conditions (windy, unstable, hot and dry), and resource availability. We utilized historical fire occurrence data and archived forecasts to assess the performance of the 7-Day Outlook product in predicting fire activity, fire escape, and large fire potential, ultimately to characterize the effectiveness of this tool for prepositioning national firefighting resources. The historical fire occurrence data track ignitions on all land ownerships (Short and others 2013); from this dataset, we established number and location of ignitions and final fire size for the years 2009-2011 for the Northwest and Southwest GCAs. We then matched historical ignitions to the corresponding PSA and appropriate forecast for the current day and each of the six days prior to the ignition date. Final fire size was used as our metric to establish whether an ignition escaped initial attack, with fires greater than 300 acres considered escaped. We obtained Active Fire Detects from the MODIS satellite from the U.S. Forest Service to provide a relative measure of daily large fire activity. Active Fire Detects were subset to within 2 km of wildfire perimeters from the Monitoring Trends in Burn Severity database, which excluded most, if not all, detects from agricultural and prescribed burns while retaining detects associated with large fires. Our results show that 7-Day Outlook values demonstrate some skill in prediction of fire ignition, fire escape, and large fire activity in the Northwest and Southwest GCAs, with better-than-random prediction in the Northwest GCA as a whole, although there is some variation in this relationship across PSAs.

Citation

Riley, Karin; Stonesifer, Crystal; Calkin, Dave; Preisler, Haiganoush. 2015. Assessing predictive services' 7-day fire potential outlook. In: Keane, Robert E.; Jolly, Matt; Parsons, Russell; Riley, Karin. Proceedings of the large wildland fires conference; May 19-23, 2014; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-73. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 188-195.