Saturday, June 15, 2013

New Fire Monitoring Tool...

Completely by accident I just discovered a marvelous new tool for monitoring wildfires on the web.  It's the “WunderMap” from Wunderunderground, the weather information site I've preferred for years.  I've even been using this map for a year or so, without realizing that it had a fire information layer!  Here's a screenshot showing a current fire near Beaumont, California:

There's a lot of information on this map!  First, the orange blob is the latest officially reported fire perimeter.  This information is usually a day or two old, sometimes (especially on smaller fires) even more.  Then there's the triangle icon – click on that and you'll get basic information about the fire, and sometimes links to more information.  In the upper right you can see little fire symbols – these are “hits” from low-resolution fire-detecting satellites (using infrared scanners).  That information is generally only a few hours old at most.  This lets us infer that this fire is burning toward the northeast.  Finally, there's topographic information and roads – letting you see what sort of country is being burned through. 

All of this information was available previously, but not all in one place like this.  Wonderful job, WunderMap!

To see this fire information yourself, got to the link above and then click on the layer control.  Scroll down through the list of layers and you'll see the control for for fire information (off by default, which is why I never realized it was there!):

There's one more thing worth paying attention to – the little “settings” gear to the right of “Active Fires”:

Here you get to choose what information about active fires you want displayed.  Note the satellite choice: the North American Satellites choice gives you higher resolution and more frequent coverage, but North America only.  The MODIS choice gives you coverage of the entire globe, but with lower resolution and less frequent updates.

Awesome tool!

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