Fire Weather Index application in north-western Italy
Piedmont region is located in North-Western Italy and is surrounded by the alpine chain and by the Appennines. The region is covered by a wide extension of forests, mainly in its mountain areas (the forests cover 36% of the regional territory). Forested areas are interested by wildfire events. In the period 1997–2005 Piedmont was interested by an average 387 forest fires per year, covering an average 1926 ha of forest per year. Meteorological conditions like long periods without precipitation contribute to create favourable conditions to forest fire development, while the fire propagation is made easier by the foehn winds, frequently interesting the region in winter and spring particularly. The meteorological danger index FWI (Fire Weather Index) was developed by Van Wagner (1987) for the Canadian Forestry Service, providing a complete description of the behaviour of the different forest components in response to the changing weather conditions. We applied the FWI to the Piedmont region on warning areas previously defined for fire management purposes. The meteorological data-set is based on the data of the very-dense non-GTS network of weather stations managed by Arpa Piemonte. The thresholds for the definition of a danger scenarios system were defined comparing historical FWI data with fires occurred on a 5 years period. The implementation of a prognostic FWI prediction system is planned for the early 2008, involving the use of good forecasts of weather parameters at the station locations obtained by the Multimodel SuperEnsemble post-processing technique.