New fire weather stations
By Derek Bedford
Pukaskwa revitalized its forest fire weather network with the acquisition and installation of three new weather stations. And 2012 was a good first year for use of the network, as the park had six wildfires and conducted three prescribed fires.
Now, there are three weather stations operating year-round in the park (two operated by Parks Canada and one from Environment Canada), as well as one portable station able to be deployed throughout the park. The new stations monitor and report weather observations to the park office each hour. Here fire danger is calculated and relayed to park staff and visitors. Having this information helps staff plan fire management responses, and even anticipate fire behaviour in the event of a forest fire in the park.
As the old weather stations began to age, maintenance costs increased and downtimes became longer. The new satellite-linked network replaced a 20 year-old system that used radio communications to transmit data from remote park weather stations back to the park administration office. Using radio transmissions meant the old stations had to be located on hill tops. Satellite technology allowed us to select the most advantageous locations, which are fully representative of park weather conditions and meet operational requirements. Environmental screenings were completed to ensure ecological integrity of the park was not being compromised by the construction or operation of the new stations.
The new network is designed to provide years of reliable, cost-effective weather observations to better manage wildfire in Pukaskwa National Park. If you want to know what the weather is like in Pukaskwa check out Environment Canada’s website. It’s updated hourly.