Fire Stories

Fire stories from the national parks highlight events, incidents, and the like, associated with fire and fuels management, as well as fire education, technology, partnerships, and more. Stories highlight work related to Department of the Interior initiatives as well as local and regional initiatives.

Big Cypress fire at night.

Screenshot of the first slide of the fire weather briefing podcast.

Daily Fire Weather Forecasts Go Digital

Alaska Region
Cohesive Strategy—Response to Wildland Fire*

Weather forecasters sometimes like to jokingly remind people that, "We're in sales, not production!" Truthfully, part of being a stellar fire weather forecaster does require selling your product. That means getting the forecast to fire personnel who need to know critical weather changes, in a timely, logical, concise, and complete format.

Beginning in the spring of 2011, National Park Service (NPS) forecasters at the Alaska Interagency Coordination Center began issuing a daily podcast; approximately a ten minute recorded audio and video program that provides fire weather information for all of Alaska.

The forecast focuses on the first three days, followed by a long range outlook. Temperature, relative humidity, winds, and lightning are the main focus, as well as movement of weather patterns affecting the state.

forest view

Image of the 500 mb short range forecast in the fire weather briefing podcast.

For many years a similar forecast had been delivered as a once daily in-person or dial-in briefing with online images available. However, fire personnel now stagger their workdays, causing many to miss the forecast discussion. NPS forecasters developed the podcast so that all interested parties can hear and see the most up-to-date weather information, on their own schedule.

Forecasters use video and voice recognition software to develop the ten minute podcast, complete with closed captioning. Although this adds to the daily weather workload, it is well worth the effort. Many fire management officials and front line firefighters reported using this tool to anticipate weather changes and its effects on fire behavior.
In the future, the programmers plan to install a web counter to determine how many hits the podcast gets on different days.

Podcasts are discontinued in the off-season, but follow this link next summer to check out the latest Alaska Fire Weather Podcast.

Contact: Heidi Strader and Sharon Alden, Fire Weather Program Managers

Email: heidi_strader@ak.blm.gov, sharon_alden@ak.blm.gov

Phone: (907) 356-5691

*This story supports the Department of the Interior initiatives.