Forestry Friday … Weather Station

anemometer, wind speed, fire weather

The anemometer measures the wind speed and direction.

California is into the fourth year of drought. Wildfire is on our minds in the natural resources community. Hazardous fire conditions are just around the corner and we are already preparing. The state and federal agencies have a system for predicting high fire hazard conditions, and tracking weather and fuel moisture is at the core of it.

weather station, fire weather, forestry

A portable weather station.

We utilize local weather stations on our timber lands to get pin point fire weather conditions. Our research department installs them. Some of these stations are permanent and some are mobile. The mobile stations, like the one shown above, can be relocated as needed. We put these at active logging sites so we can measure accurate on site fire weather conditions.

fuel moisture stick, fuel moisture, wildfire, fire weather

The fuel moisture stick measures moisture content in forest fuels.

Years ago, we used mechanical anemometers to measure wind speed, and fuel moisture sticks weighed with a scale to measure fuel moisture. During the summer season, measurements were taken on the hour by someone on the logging crew. When conditions became severe enough, operations were shut down for the day.

With today’s technology, we have the ability to monitor conditions continuously and have the data transmitted to our office. Changes in fire conditions can be spotted in real-time and radioed to the logging crews. We can collect much more data with the new weather stations than ever before, and respond to changing condition accordingly.

The Ponderosa Fire is still going strong on Tuesday evening.

The Ponderosa Fire.

The weather stations won’t eliminate wildfire, but they do assist the logging crews in avoiding being the cause.

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