Fourth Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology

Wednesday, 14 November 2001: 3:40 PM
Operational wildland fire management systems: the Oklahoma example
J. D. Carlson, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK
Managers of wildland fire deal with both wildfire and prescribed fire, the latter becoming increasingly important as a management tool for controlling fuel buildup and renewing the landscape. This paper will begin by briefly reviewing user needs in "operational" wildland fire management, by which we speak of routine and frequent (e.g., daily) assessments of fire weather, fire danger, and other associated features such as smoke dispersal over broad areas encompassing thousands to millions of hectares. Such operational systems typically include inputs on topography, fuels, and weather, which are utilized by one or more fire-related models whose routine output is then made easily available to clientele in near-real-time.

The paper will focus on a specific example of an operational wildland fire management system from the state of Oklahoma. Use of a mesoscale automated weather station network, the 110+ station Oklahoma Mesonet, allows for a suite of fire management products to be created and disseminated in near-real-time over the World Wide Web. In the oral presentation a wide range of examples from these products will be shown.

In particular, the suite of fire-related products includes (1) the Oklahoma Fire Danger Model, which is an adaptation of the National Fire Danger Rating System to an automated weather station network and also utilizing weekly satellite imagery; (2) current and recent fire weather maps, including rainfall; (3) the Oklahoma Dispersion Model, whose output is relevant to smoke dispersal; and (4) 60-hour MOS forecasts from the NGM (Nested Grid Model). Depending on the product, the data or model output is updated in time scales ranging from 15 minutes (in the case of Mesonet weather maps) to as much as 12 hours (in the case of the MOS forecasts). All of these products can be accessed via the Oklahoma Mesonet AgWeather home page at:

These wildland fire management tools are utilized by a wide range of clientele in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Division of Forestry consults these products on a regular basis to aid in their preparedness levels and in issuance of Red Flag Fire Alerts and burning ban recommendations to the Governor. State emergency managers and local fire chiefs also utilize these operational tools to monitor fire danger. The fire management products also provide guidance for prescribed burning activities and are used by federal and state agencies as well as by private and public landowners.

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