A burn must be carried out in a safe and predictable manner in order to reap its environmental benefits. Oklahoma's prescribed burning associations recognize that understanding prevailing weather conditions is a must when it comes to burning. This study specifically focuses on winds that exist during the time of burn. Various burn associations were surveyed on their own standards and preferences for desired wind patterns during their burns.
Wind climatology, via Oklahoma Mesonet data that extends from January of 1994 through May of 2008, is used to assess the frequency of favorable burn days. A three-pronged criterion was developed to determine the constraints of a “favorable burn day” that is based primarily on information gathered from officials of the individual burn associations. A resulting burn calendar shows both daily and monthly trends of favorable burn days for February, March, and April. These specific months are desired by the burn associations for a variety of reasons, such as burning before nesting birds begin to nest and when relative humidities are still low.
The resulting daily burn calendars present a weak downward trend in the data. This trend suggests that of the three months considered in this study, February is the most favorable month to conduct prescribed burns. Monthly burn calendars, however, show a more pronounced downward trend. They present clear evidence that the frequency of favorable burn days declines from February through April. These results suggest that from a purely climatological perspective, it is wise to conduct burns earlier, rather than later.
Potential use of this study is to provide Oklahoma prescribed burning associations with a climatological idea of when optimal burning days exist, while leaving the decision to burn primarily up to their own judgment.