Fire season prep work – mapping the moisture in the ground

Last week, we talked about an early start to wildfire season and the fact that the majority of wildfires in Alberta happen much earlier in the year than people tend to expect.

But preparing for the fire season starts even earlier than March 1st – and there are a number of tools we use to get ready.

One tool is known as the drought code map. Each fall after the end of fire season, ESRD prepares a map that translates precipitation data into ratings of potential wildfire hazards.

The map is updated monthly and helps staff evaluate how fire danger changes over the winter. It’s based on moisture in the ground and is a window into what we might see in April.

You can check out this year’s drought code map. What it shows is normal to aboveDoughtMap normal moisture conditions across the province – with the exception of slightly higher hazards in the far northwest of Alberta and in an area south of Lac La Biche.

Although the map looks at only one of several factors that determine the severity of wildfires, it’s a useful tool for pre-season prep work. The local conditions that drive a given wildfire – temperature, humidity, winds and volume of fuel available – are vital pieces of information used in forecasting and mapping once wildfire season is underway.

With fire season upon, ESRD is already training fire fighters and putting airplanes and heavy equipment in place across the province. Keep checking back for more stories about the upcoming fire season – or check out Alberta’s wildfire pages for all kinds of great information about the work that goes into protecting Alberta’s forests and communities.

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