Department of Land and Natural Resources

09/19/23-Using remote weather stations is useful when monitoring fire conditions

Posted on September 19, 2023 in Forests & Wildlife, Home, Media, Newsletters, Slider, Wildfire

Josh Green, MD
Governor Governor

Dawn Zhang

For immediate publication

September 19, 2023

Using remote weather stations is useful when monitoring fire conditions

(LAHAINA, MAUI) – Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) were recently installed in Lahaina in areas with invasive grasses that could be vulnerable to wildfires. This technology allows the Department of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) to collect data to predict fire behavior and monitor the fuels that start fires.

These stations collect data including rainfall, wind speed and direction, air temperature, relative humidity, fuel humidity and solar radiation for guards and firefighters.

There are two stations in Lahaina and one above Maale’a.

Hourly RAWS data is collected and sent to the satellite, which then sends it to a computer at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho.

The data is useful for wildland fire management and fire danger classification. There are approximately 2,800 RAWS units throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Guam and the US Virgin Islands. There are 22 stations in Hawaii operated by the Ministry of FAO.

RAWS units are solar powered and fully automated.

“There are currently three portable vehicles installed around Lahaina to get more accurate local weather. One is ours, and two were ordered from the RAWS depot at NIFC. Fire departments are not only looking at the data, but the Data by weather researchers for forecasting and modeling.

DOFAW staff regularly checks online information.

“We monitor temperature and humidity to determine fire risks in the area. There are stations elsewhere that have cameras that allow early detection of fires, and we hope to add some cameras to our stations soon,” Walker said.

While RAWS units may not be able to indicate if there is an active fire, the information and data the units collect is of great value in monitoring fire threats.

It is a great tool for identifying fire risks, and we have two mobile stations that can be deployed to monitor local fire conditions. One of the portable devices was deployed during the eruption of Leilani Volcano on the island of Hawaii to monitor the weather at a geothermal power plant. “The lava flow cut off our access and we couldn’t get back into it for about a year,” Walker said.

The cost of each RAWS unit is $25,000 to build and another $1,000 per year per station for maintenance, a deal that takes into account the importance of collecting this valuable data.

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(All photos/video courtesy of: DLNR)

Video –

Photos – Remote weather stations in Lahaina, September 11, 2023

Media Contact:

AG McWhorter
Communications specialist
Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources
(email protected)

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