At a recent hearing of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, the Oklahoma State Forester Mark Goeller testified on the state’s improved wildfire warnings system. The work is a collaboration between Oklahoma Forestry Services, the National Weather Service, and state emergency management utilizing Technosylva solutions for wildfire spread modeling and risk forecasting.
He shared their achievements in vastly improving warning alert times that notify the public about wildfire ignition spread.
Another innovation employed in Oklahoma is to issue fire warnings utilizing an integrated warning team approach. This warning system involves the local National Weather Service forecast office detecting and communicating to partners the location of a potentially dangerous wildfire. Oklahoma Forestry Services utilizes Wildfire Analyst, a commercially available modeling software, to predict the potential spread from the wildfire’s ignition point. We contact the incident commander and local emergency managers to confirm the warning need and also to provide the relevant evacuation information. Finally, state Emergency Management broadcast the fire warnings through the Emergency alert system to a targeted area, jointly identified by the National Weather Service and Oklahoma Forestry Services.”
“While this may seem pretty cumbersome, the fire warning was issued in just six minutes on a recent wildfire occurring in a heavily populated while in urban interface area in the Oklahoma City metro. Oklahoma is the first state in the nation to utilize this system. Using our legacy process, it often required approximately 90 minutes to issue the fire warning.”