The danger of runaway fires in South Africa and the complexities around forecasting the conditions which favour their development
Presentation 11 in the Environment Event Week 2016
Length: 30 min
Author: Lee-Ann Simpson (SAWS)
South Africa is by nature a dry country, which has very short wet periods, mainly confined to the coastal areas and eastern half of the country. During the dry season, the hot, windy conditions result in a favourable environment for fires to spread uncontrollably and cause large scale damage to the local vegetation and to infrastructure. To be able to anticipate and forecast the risk of runaway fires in South Africa, a forecaster needs to have many sources of information, ranging from precipitation amounts to an understanding of the local vegetation. The inclusion of satellite imagery interpretation is an invaluable part of the forecasting process and the monitoring of fires can be done accurately and on a 24hour basis. This presentation will outline the risk the fires pose within South Africa and our forecasting processes dealing with this environmental hazard.