Wildland Fire Notifications for Impact-based Decision Support Services in Oklahoma:  Prototype for a Future National Weather Service Red Flag Warning Paradigm
Todd Lindley, NOAA/NWS Norman, Oklahoma, Norman, OK
Aaron Anderson, NOAA/NWS Norman, Oklahoma
Thomas Curl, NOAA/NWS Norman, Oklahoma
Steven Piltz, NOAA/NWS Tulsa, Oklahoma
James Frederick, NOAA/NWS Tulsa, Oklahoma

An increasing demand for tactical wildland fire support is being placed on National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologists.  At the request of core partners such as Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), the NWS Weather Forecast Offices in Norman, Oklahoma, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, provided intelligence on locations of remotely sensed wildfires during a February 2016 fire outbreak.  Leveraging experimental Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-14 (GOES-14) Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSOR), a tool was developed that allowed forecasters to transmit geolocations of wildland fire hot spots and smoke plumes, as well as proximity weather information, to OFS and Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (ODEM) officials.  The program provided initial notification to first responders for 78% of detections and was credited with mitigating impacts from several wildfires, saving lives and property.  Subsequent development of the application, even with the use of legacy GOES scanning strategies, GOES Rapid Scan Operations, and Doppler radar, has resulted in notification of numerous wildland fires prior to local 911-emergency calls and is credited with preventing several large and potentially damaging wildfires.  As the NWS progresses into the GOES-16/S/T era, high-resolution remote sensing technology will become increasingly prevalent, and demand from wildland and fire management agencies for similar services will increase.    

Proposals to modernize the NWS’s Red Flag Warning program have included rendering headlines for dangerous wildland fire conditions on temporal and spatial scales consistent with outlook/watch/warning strategies for severe convection and other forms of hazardous weather.  In this proposed paradigm, Red Flag Warnings (or equivalent warning messages) would be issued upon detection of remotely sensed wildland fire when conditions are conducive for extreme fire behavior.  Preceding outlooks and watches would communicate the potential for adverse environmental fire conditions.   The wildland fire notifications utilized in Oklahoma provide a de facto prototype for this concept.  This presentation outlines an effective technological and operational framework for implementation of change in the Red Flag Warning paradigm as demonstrated on the southern Great Plains.