Weather, and in particular fire weather, is incredibly important to us. Not because it starts fires...people do that 99% of the time...but because it makes the fire go to where it will eventually be extinguished.
Favourable fire weather - low temps, high humidity, light winds and the fire will be a pleasure to extinguish. High temps, low humidity and high variable winds is not good for the fire fighters because the fire behaviour becomes extreme and unpredictable very quickly, after ignition.
We collect a lot of statistics to try improve awareness and be as prepared as possible for fires. You will see that Zululand Coastal has 2 distinct fire seasons. The first between February and May, our 'Honey Hunter' season, and the second between July and October, our 'Winter Season'.
The 'Honey Hunter' season falls during the time of year when the Eucalyptus trees, of which we have a whole bunch, are flowering. Numerous swarms of bees move into the area and set up hives, with a potential of 100 hives per hectare. The bees aren't the problem and are essential for pollination. The problem is that the bees find our conservation areas and compartments with old hollow stumps very good places to set up camp. People then come into these areas and make fires to smoke the bees out before they rob the hives. The problem is exacerbated if we are going through a dry and hot cycle during this time period, as the bees become more active and the fire fuels burn readily. Hives are robbed during the early morning and late afternoons. Our all time record was set in 2003 at 17 fires detected in 30 minutes, all honey hunter related. One good thing is the average fire size for these fires was 0.1 hectares. Initial attack works!
Great strides have been made in this department to train the Honey Hunters and to equip them with smokers, sponsored through SAFIRE, as well as give the hunters T-Shirts for their efforts. The number of fires has been greatly reduced because of this programme.
The 'Winter Season' is in our winter when rains are scarce and the fuels are tinder dry. Predominant fire cause is negligence.
- Saws Home Page - South African Weather Services - Register at SAWS for all short, medium and long term forecasts
- National Forecasts - iAfrica
- Detailed weather forecast - PMB
- Detailed weather forecast - Mthatha
- Detailed weather forecast - Elliot
- Detailed weather forecast - Richards Bay
- Detailed weather forecast - Ulundi
- Weather forecast for Howick in KwaZulu-Natal on YR.NO
- WIND GURU (Please contact Firestop on 033 330 8421 for access details)
- Kobus Botha's weather website - many thanks Kobus for an excellent weather site
- Current Fires - fire detection via satellite - courtesy of Eskom
- BBC weather forecasts
- Weather Underground
- Vital Fire Weather
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- Synoptic Chart Weather SA (Press F5 to refresh your browser)
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- 10-Day Precipitation Outlook for Africa Ten day Precipitation Outlook for Africa
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- Tropical Storm Risk