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    Author(s): Andrea Watts; Brian PotterJoseph Charney; Alan Srock
    Date: 2020
    Source: Science Findings 227. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.
    Publication Series: Science Findings
    Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
    PDF: Download Publication  (2.0 MB)


    Accurate predictions of how weather may affect a wildfire’s behavior are needed to protect crews on the line and efficiently allocate firefighting resources. Since 1988, fire meteorologists have used a tool called the Haines Index to predict days when the weather will exacerbate a wildfire. Although the Haines Index is widely believed to have value, it never received rigorous testing on the line. Even Don Haines, the U.S. Forest Service meteorologist who developed the index, has said the Haines Index needs further refinement.

    Recognizing that a new fire weather prediction tool was needed, a team composed of meteorologists with the U.S. Forest Service and St. Cloud State University developed the Hot-Dry-Windy Index. The index is based upon the three weather conditions—hot, dry, and windy—that significantly affect a wildfire’s behavior.

    When the Hot-Dry-Windy Index and the Haines Index were evaluated on four wildfires that burned in the United States between 2002 and 2011, the Hot-Dry-Windy Index proved better at identifying days when weather contributed to dangerous wildfire conditions. Because of the positive feedback received during subsequent field testing, the National Weather Service has recommended that fire meteorologists evaluate the Hot-Dry-Windy Index as a fire weather tool for use on wildfires.

    Publication Notes

    • Visit PNW's Publication Request Page to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Watts, Andrea; Potter, Brian; Charney, Joseph; Srock, Alan. 2020. The Hot-Dry-Windy Index: A new tool for forecasting fire weather. Science Findings 227. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 5 p.


    Fire weather, fire behavior, Haines Index, Hot-Dry-Windy Index.

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