Wildland fire potential outlooks for Portugal using meteorological indices of fire danger
Portugal is recurrently affected by large wildfire events that have serious impacts at the socio-economic and environmental levels and dramatic consequences associated with the loss of lives and the destruction of the landscape. Accordingly, seasonal forecasts are required to assist fire managers, thus contributing to alter the historically based purely reactive response. In this context, we present and discuss a statistical model to estimate the probability that the total burned area during summer will exceed a given threshold. The statistical model uses meteorological information that rates the accumulation of thermal and vegetation stress. Outlooks for the 39-year study period (1980–2018) show that, when the statistical model is applied from 26 May to 30 June, out of the six severe years, only one year is not anticipated as potentially severe and, out of the six weak years, only one is not anticipated as potentially weak. The availability of outlooks of wildfire potential with an anticipation of up to 1 month before the starting of the fire season, such as the one proposed here, may serve to provide clear directions for the fire community when planning prevention and combating fire events.