2.4 Categorization of Santa Ana Winds with respect to Large Fire Potential

Thursday, 10 January 2013: 11:45 AM
Ballroom E (Austin Convention Center)
Thomas Rolinski, USDA, Riverside, CA; and B. D'Agostino and S. Vanderburg
Manuscript (22.4 kB)

Handout (600.8 kB)

Strong Santa Ana winds occurring during the fall months in southern California can result in large, devastating wildfires when an ignition occurs. Such events have resulted in the same kind of loss of life and property that has been associated with hurricanes and tornados. And while there are established categories of severity for the latter, there has yet to be a system employed that ranks Santa Ana wind events with respect to large fire potential. Meteorologists from the Forest Service in Riverside, California have collaborated with the SDG&E utility, UCLA, NWS, and the Desert Research Institute (DRI) to develop a methodology for an index that will categorize the severity of a Santa Ana wind event based on a fire reaching or exceeding 100 hectares. This index is designed to work in the same way that the Saffir-Simpson scale does for hurricanes, with the goal that it will better prepare fire agencies, first responders, and the general public of the potential for a local catastrophic fire event. While this oral presentation will address the overall methodology, a poster presentation submitted by UCLA (Fovell and Cao) and an oral presentation from DRI (Wall) will highlight more specific aspects of this project.
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