Environment & Science

Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index arrives on Twitter

Larry & Teddy Page/Flickr via Creative Commons

A web-based tool that predicts the fire threat potential of Santa Ana winds now has a Twitter account.

The Santa Ana Wildfire Threat Index, developed by the U.S. Forest Service with help from UCLA and San Diego Gas & Electric, officially launched September last year. It came about partly because of the wildfires that devastated Southern California in 2007. 

"We're basically forecasting fire potential for all of Southern and Central California," Tom Rolinski, senior meteorologist with the U.S. Forest Service told KPCC. "Then our fire managers here have an idea of what to do with the resources that they have at hand."

The tool doesn't just help the Forest Service; several other state and local emergency services also benefit from the index, Rolinski said. The beta test mode of the index was only available to a small group and was made available to the public last September, but the Forest Service wants to make it even more accessible to the public during the Fall season when the Santa Ana winds return.

“The index did very well in my opinion despite the fact that we didn't have strong events,” said Rolinski. “It worked out very well in handling those weak events…. As we get into the fall months, when we start to see Santa Ana winds returning to the area, we wanted to have a way for people to be notified that there would be an elevated threat level.”

Followers of the index on Twitter get notified via tweets anytime the index goes above a no rating for any zone.

"So then people dont have to look at the product everyday when there's nothing going on," Rolinski said. "So we really want people to utilize that Twitter feed because that's going to be really really instrumental in notifying people of an impending event." 

The Twitter account was created last week and is still in the early stages of tweeting. You can follow it through @sawti_forecast.