Fire Weather Stations

The Forestry Division operates a network of close to 200 fire weather stations to monitor fire hazard in Alberta’s forests.

A fire weather reading is taken at 13:00 MDT (local noon) to calculate fire hazard using the Canadian Fire Weather Index System.

The basic fire weather reading consists of:

  • precipitation
  • relative humidity
  • temperature
  • wind direction and speed

There are five primary types of weather stations that report the weather variables necessary to calculate the fire hazard:

  • Lookout Towers (LO)
    - report weather twice daily; currently about 125 in operation
  • Ranger Stations (RS)
    - report weather once a day; currently about 12 in operation
  • Contract Stations (RZ)
    - report weather once a day; currently about 3 in operation
  • Environment Canada METARS (MET)
    - report weather once a day; currently about 6 used
  • Remote Automatic Weather Stations (RAWS)
    - report weather hourly; currently 46 in operation

Supplementary data are gathered in addition to the basic fire weather readings taken at 1 PM:

  • the lookout towers and automatic stations report a morning observation at 07:30 (MDT) to indicate overnight precipitation and the potential fire danger later in the day
  • the automatic stations record hourly weather conditions and can be accessed at any time from headquarters
  • the manned weather stations report additional parameters such as visibility, current weather, cloud type, and maximum and minimum temperature.

All this additional information gives meteorologists and fire managers a better picture of the current weather situation.

In addition to the above station types, the weather section manages a network of 129 Sacramento Rain Gauge Stations.

These rain gauges measure over-winter precipitation, essential for determining the moisture content of the deep duff layers in the spring. Readings are taken on or near March 31 and October 31 each year.

For questions about the fire weather stations, contact the Weather Section at:

Updated: Apr 4, 2022