The only fire-risk alert system actively in place in Hawaiʻi is the National Weather Service’s “Red Flag Warning System” – which is based on a single weather station on Oʻahu.
The danger, of course, is that warnings may not represent conditions across the state. Or, a warning may not be declared, despite high-risk conditions elsewhere. For example, no warnings were issued for Maui’s large fires in 2019, due to different rainfall patterns over Honolulu.
With an increase of 300% in annual area burned across all four counties of Hawaiʻi within the past several decades, a team of researchers from across the UH system has gathered to develop a high-resolution fire risk index for the entire state.
The team will use spatial data on historical fire occurrence, climate, vegetation and the built environment. The end-product will be a daily map of fire risk for the state, published online, that uses real-time climate products.
“The incredible diversity of climate types and vegetation in Hawaiʻi means the standard fire prediction tools used on the mainland simply don’t work for us,” says co-PI Clay Trauernicht of the Dept. of Natural Resources and Environmental Management. “This effort will use climate products developed for Hawaiʻi, and integrate local knowledge of forecasters and fire responders to validate and interpret the final product.”
Read the full UH News story.
*In related news, Clay will present “Building an Extension Program that Serves Ecosystem Conservation and Restoration Practitioners in Hawai‘i” on Wednesday, Sept. 30. Please Zoom in at 3:30 p.m.