Prescribed Burning - Air and Climate

A general understanding of the separate and combined effects of several weather elements on fire behavior is needed to plan and execute a good prescribed burn. Because weather and fuel factors interact, an experienced prescribed burner can conduct a successful burn even with one or more factors slightly outside the desired range—as long as they are offset by other factors. Accurate fire weather monitoring of fire danger indices via the RAWS network, providing historical data leading up to a prescribed burn is critical in the planning stages. However, having accurate weather conditions in a micro-climate scale in real time during the execution of a prescribed burn is just as critical. The weather variables most applicable to prescription burns are air temperature, relative humidity, wind direction, wind speed and precipitation. A combination of wind speed, relative humidity, temperature, and solar insulation largely determines fuel condition which in turn affects fire behavior.

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Fuels budgets are based on the acreage burned, so any tool that allows for an increased volume of fuels to be burned safely can pay for itself very quickly. Multiple portable remote automated weather stations set up ahead of the planned burn provide a far higher resolution of data, both in frequency (data transmitted once per hour) and spatially (providing finer, more localized 'micro-scale climate' data). The result is continuous measuring of multiple potential burn sites, the ability to start burning as soon as conditions are in prescription, and the confidence of knowing that the burn is being executed as safely as possible.

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