• Jacob Bourne

StormGeo Launches Wildfire Risk Assessment to Enhance Weather Intelligence Services

More destructive and lengthening wildfire seasons in fire-prone areas across the globe are making it difficult to do business. Evacuations, poor air quality, and loss of life and property can lead to the interruption of operations, and temporary or permanent business closures. Norway-based StormGeo has developed its new Wildfire Risk Assessment to help businesses respond.



San Francisco post-Labor Day Northern California wildfires in 2020. Credit: Unsplash/Patrick Perkins

The growing weather intelligence sector is working toward meeting the increased need for business resiliency through products and services that forecast extreme weather conditions and analyze the potential impacts. StormGeo is one such weather intelligence company that focuses on wildfire risk, among other natural disaster events.

Its new product, the Wildfire Risk Assessment, offers reports on fire size, smoke, air quality and spread risk. The tool examines three main risk areas: current fires, smoke and air quality, and the forecast for dangerous situations, including electrical grid shutdowns. A risk potential is then calculated, which businesses can use to respond appropriately to the situation.

"As the effects of climate change have become more prevalent in weather patterns each year, the need for solutions like the Wildfire Risk Assessment is significant,” said Courtland Keith, Vice President of Cross Industry for StormGeo. “We understand the crucial nature of keeping communication lines open during disaster, so providing businesses with the tools they need to stay protected is of the utmost importance to us at StormGeo.”

Although weather newscasters and government agencies issue warnings during high fire risk conditions or in anticipation of storms, those notices generally cover large areas. StormGeo’s products can narrow down risk forecasts for individual businesses and properties.


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Wireless network operator T-Mobile uses StormGeo’s forecasts to determine when and where to place generators at high-risk cell sites in advance of active fire conditions, according to T-Mobile Market Manager of Development and Engineering Jay Blessing.

"As we receive alerts, crews are deployed to activate the generators as they are needed,” Blessing said. “This level of advance preparation is a big undertaking, but it is important that ensure we are bulletproof, seamless, and have very minimal outages in the event of a power shutdown or fire taking over the cell site."

StormGeo isn’t the only weather intelligence company with wildfire tools. Wildfire Analyst provides wildfire simulations and real-time analysis of fire behavior. Customers can get analytical outputs in the form of GIS maps, charts and reports to guide decision-making. Another company, RedZone, uses machine learning algorithms to deliver predictions on the impact a wildfire can have on a company’s assets.

This spring Sonoma County, California partnered with South Korean firm Alchera to equip fire-detecting cameras with software that can detect wildfires and alert authorities. Based on an algorithm, the technology is a work in progress that must “learn” to differentiate between smoke and fog, for example. Sonoma County has been the site of several extremely deadly wildfires in recent years.

According to NASA, climate change has led to warmer, dryer conditions in places like the U.S. West, where historically fire-prone areas have been experiencing larger wildfires that grow faster and are more destructive. Data from the Union of Concerned Scientists indicates that over the last six years, the U.S. has had on average about 100 more large wildfires in a given year than the prior year, with more intense fires and more total acres burned.


 

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