Friday, May 25 , 2018, 11:17 am | Partly Cloudy 64º


Montecito Fire, La Casa de Maria Enter Agreement for Remote Weather Station

The station will provide up-to-the-minute weather observations to help assess fire danger

The Montecito Fire Protection District and La Casa de Maria Retreat Center entered into a cooperative agreement last month for the installation of a second Remote Automated Weather Station.

The National Weather Service and the U.S. Forest Service also contributed greatly in a collaborative effort with the district and La Casa de Maria in making this local RAWS installation possible in Montecito.

The RAWS will assist Montecito Fire Protection District, the National Weather Service and local Santa Barbara fire service agencies in monitoring up-to-the-minute weather observations to better provide for fire severity predictions and weather-related emergencies.

This weather station provides hourly weather observations that measure wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, relative humidity, fuel moisture, precipitation and solar radiation, and can be accessed by the public via the internet. Information can also be readily accessed by fire officials for current and real-time results via radio transmissions. Further, this RAWS is registered as part of the National Fire Danger Rating System. This system is utilized by fire management agencies to assess current fire danger predictions at local, regional and national levels.

This new unit is centrally located within Montecito on the La Casa de Maria Retreat Center property on El Bosque Road within the urban interface at 375-foot elevation.

“We at La Casa are very pleased that, with this weather station here on our grounds in Montecito, our homes will be much safer,” said Stephanie Glatt, director of La Casa de Maria.

The information received will be utilized and gauged against information obtained from the district’s first RAWS unit located at the 1,650-foot level near the Cold Springs trail.

“This new RAWS site in the frontcountry gives us added capacity and another critical tool for monitoring sundowners and other weather phenomena closer to Montecito,” Forest Service Battalion Chief Mark Courson said.

The La Casa de Maria Retreat Center in Montecito has long maintained an active partnership with the Montecito Fire Protection District with regard to public service contributions. As members of the Montecito Emergency Response and Recovery Action Group, La Casa has made a continued commitment to assist the MFPD and the community with support during emergencies. By partnering to allow the installation of this new RAWS on La Casa de Maria property, they continue to further that commitment to serve the Montecito and Santa Barbara communities.

“Unlike an earthquake that gives no warning, wildfires and storm-related emergencies often have weather indicators that can be used to predict and prepare for potential disaster,” said Fire Chief Kevin Wallace of Montecito Fire. “This new RAWS will allow us to have accurate and current conditions to better staff and prepare for these conditions.”

— Geri Ventura represents the Montecito Fire Protection District.


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