WILDFIRE

Decades of data will help Rocky Mountain Power better predict wildfires

Jul 7, 2023, 7:59 AM | Updated: Oct 18, 2023, 2:46 pm

Power crews burying lines to prevent fire in Big Cottonwood Canyon. (KSL-TV)

(KSL-TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — A game changer for Rocky Mountain Power in the fight to stay in front of mother nature as some new software is allowing them to predict wildfire dangers like never before.

RMP meteorology manager Steven Vanderburgh said the new technology gives a 30-year hourly weather history and mixes that with today’s data to predict dangers, outages, and wildfires. He said it took 16 months of 24/7 number crunching by supercomputers to put it all together.

“It’s saying that even though yes, it’s warm and it’s dry. We’re really not in a situation where there’s a lot of wildfire risk, particularly as you get north of I-70,” Vanderburgh said while demonstrating how the software worked.

“It looks back at those 30 years and says, ‘Hey, this is the second strongest wind gusts that has ever been forecast for this location in the last 30 years. And this is what that means in terms of your potential for outages, this is what it means for your wildfire danger,’” he explained.

Vanderburgh said the program also helps them to predict where they can shut down sections of the power grid to prevent wildfires from happening from blown down power lines or flying sparks. He said it would allow them to stay in front of the danger rather than trying to play catch up.

“It’s about having all the players and all the pieces in the right place at the right time to be able to respond to any curveball Mother Nature throws our way, to mitigate that risk of having a spark and wildfire,” he said. “That allows us to strategically place all of our folks in the field, all of our folks here in our emergency operations center, in the right place at the right time ahead of time.

Related:

 

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Wildfire

The Tangent Peak fire is burning in Box Elder County, west of the northern tip of Great Salt Lake. ...

Simone Seikaly

Tangent Peak fire in Utah’s Box Elder County just 10% contained

The Tangent Peak fire in Box Elder County is consuming dry fuels in a location so remote that firefighters are being flown in with their gear.

15 hours ago

A smokejumper parachuting to help contain the Speirs wildfire, which started Saturday night....

Emma Keddington

Speirs wildfire burning near Flaming Gorge, caused by lightning

A lightning strike ignited the Speirs wildfire Saturday night. The fire is currently 0% contained, but hasn't caused evacuations.

3 days ago

An evacuation order is in place for Shurtz Canyon and upper basin above the Graff Point Fire....

Kennedy Camarena

Evacuation order in place for Shurtz Canyon and upper basin above Graff Point Fire

The Graff Point Fire in Iron County is growing and has caused an evacuation order to be put in place in the area.

4 days ago

A Type 1 helicopter arrived on scene of the Deer Springs fire in southern Utah....

Mark Jones, KSL TV

Crews fighting Deer Springs wildfire receive assistance of type 1 helicopter

Firefighters working to contain the Deer Springs wildfire got some welcome help Wednesday in the form of a specialized helicopter.

6 days ago

Smoke from the Deer Springs Fire near Bryce Canyon is pictured on Monday....

Carter Williams, KSL.com

Fire near Bryce Canyon quickly reaches 11,000 acres in size

A wildfire burning south of Bryce Canyon National Park has quickly blossomed to about 11,000 acres in size.

8 days ago

The Silver King fire is still 0% contained....

Eric Cabrera

Fires continue in Southern Utah, but smoke most likely won’t travel north

The Silver King and Deer Spring fires are still raging in Southern Utah, but smoke isn't believed to make it up north.

9 days ago

Sponsored Articles

A young woman smiles while reading the menu at a lakeside restaurant, enjoying the panoramic view o...

Bear Lake Convention & Visitors Bureau

The best restaurants to try in Bear Lake

Save this guide to the best restaurants in Bear Lake when you need to find a place to dine during your next visit.

Female leg stepping on weigh scales. Healthy lifestyle, food and sport concept....

Health Utah

Sustainable weight loss: the science-backed way to achieve it

Learn more about Debbie's weight loss journey with Health Utah, who have a unique weight loss philosophy for success.

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...

Comcast

Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

Decades of data will help Rocky Mountain Power better predict wildfires