Oregon-AMS Meeting Summary – “DRAFT NOTES”


“Critical Fire Weather Predictive Service” by John Saltenberger, Meteorologist, USFWS


  We had 35 attend this technical meeting, hosted by the National Weather Service-Portland Office.  This was the first meeting chaired by incoming Oregon-AMS President Bobby Corser.


  The Northwest Coordination Center is an interagency center that coordinates the fire-fighting resources of the Pacific Northwest.  The Predictive Services Program was born from the May 4, 2000 Cerro Grande Fire with 300 homes lost, a nuclear lab damaged, and over $1 billion cost.  The U.S. Congress ordered a National Fire Plan, which includes better fire-weather information for decision-makers.


  The NWCC is a decision-support entity supported by Predictive Services, Emergency Operations, and Communications Infrastructure.  Predictive Services analyzes and predicts fire danger, fire-weather, and resource capability to assess wildland fire potential.  The Significant Fire Potential gives the likelihood of the mobilization of additional resources from outside the service area.  The Predictive Services Model uses burn environment and ignition triggers – specifically fire danger, fire-weather, human and natural triggers.  NWCC uses 73 key areas, 12 Predictive Services area (defined by climatic boundaries). 


  The NFDRS uses indices of evaporation, relative humidity, wind, fuel (i.e., dead and live trees), etc.  The ERC-Energy Release Component and 100-hour dead-fuel moisture correlates very well to a predictive chart: low fire-potential (moist) <1%, medium 4%, and high 10%-15%.  Weather signs may include dry, unstable atmosphere (ridge), gusty foehn winds, and/or deep trough.  Trying to forecast “dry thunderstorm” moisture has always been very difficult. 


  Ignition triggers may include high recreational weekends & holidays and much lightning.  Only 5% of lightning strikes cause large fires.  About 54% of lightning strikes cause any fires. 


  An example of the test of the model was the Sulphur Creek Fire, south-central Oregon Coastal Range (W3 area) on June 27-28, 2003.  Basin was at ~1500 feet.  Model correctly predicted a deep trough rapidly being replaced by a sharpening ridge of high pressure.


Note-taker: Kyle Dittmer, Oregon-AMS 2005-2009 President (now Past President)