Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a webinar that was presented by Charles Maxwell (USFS Meteorologist) and produced by the Southwest Fire Science Consortium. This unique pragmatic approach to predictive services is currently only used in the southwest region (New Mexico, Arizona and West Texas). The potential for this type of application to be used throughout the nation is huge.
The significant fire potential outlook is temporal and updated on a quarterly basis and it should not be confused with other geo-spatial fire risk potential maps that are designed for a different purpose. For example, the 2012 wildland fire potential map recently published by the US Forest Service Fire Laboratory based in Missoula, Montana, is a spatial application designed for long term strategic planning and fuels management. The Southwest Coordination Center predictive services map is designed for the short term by quantifying the upcoming fire season risk potential. The main factors that drive this model are:
- Fine fuels condition
- Season temperature and precipitation
- Spring and early summer weather patterns