During the fire

Fire cycle

NOAA’s real-time fire and smoke detection tools take advantage of the latest imaging technologies aboard geostationary and polar orbiting satellites to provide valuable information to wildfire incident commanders and other public officials. 

NOAA’s newest GOES satellites track lightning strikes which are responsible for many backcountry fires. Satellites can also identify and monitor heat signatures from new and existing fires offsite link, and track wildfire smoke offsite link to inform air quality assessments.  

The factors that determine wildfire behavior are complex, always evolving, and influenced by a number of variables, including fuel type, quantity, structure, and moisture content. NOAA’s national weather observing system offsite link captures many of the most important and most variable drivers, such as temperature, relative humidity, wind speed, and precipitation, each of which can rapidly alter fire behavior. 

After a fire starts, National Weather Service meteorologists share real-time, localized observations and forecasts on weather conditions that determine fire behavior. They also generate short-term forecasts needed by incident commanders responsible for deploying firefighting crews in harm's way. For larger fires, specially trained Incident Meteorologists will be deployed to an incident command center to provide immediate updates. 

Over the life cycle of a fire, combinations of flaming and smoldering combustion and pyrolysis lead to different emissions at different times and at different locations within a fire. NOAA’s smoke and air quality models deliver accurate forecasts of wildfire smoke movements and air quality impacts

«  Before the fire    |    After the fire »

Fire cycle