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Sunday, December 9 , 2018, 2:09 pm | Fair 67º


Montecito Fire District, La Casa de Maria Mark 3 Years Since Installation of Remote Weather Station

In 2011, the Montecito Fire Protection District and La Casa de Maria Retreat & Conference Center entered into a cooperative agreement for the installation of a second Remote Automated Weather Station (RAWS).

For the past three years, the RAWS has assisted the Montecito Fire Protection District, the National Weather Service and Santa Barbara fire service agencies in monitoring up-to-the-minute weather observations to better provide for fire severity predictions and weather-related emergencies.

“The benefits of this installation are outstanding, and we are grateful to La Casa de Maria for welcoming this installation on their private property for the benefit of our entire community,” said Al Gregson, fire marshal at Montecito Fire Protection District. “As our region sits between mountains and canyons, we have microclimates that can differ greatly from one another. Weather stations located at both this ‘ground-level’ and the 1600 ft. elevations are imperative to predicting real-time data.”

Because the RAWS has been in place on the La Casa de Maria property for three years, meteorologists are able to identify patterns that they are now able to track, which has become a beneficial tool for weather prediction services. With two RAWS stations now in place, Montecito Fire is able to prepare real-time data at both the 1,600-foot elevation and 375-foot levels. Relying solely on the former RAWS presented a huge difference in weather predictions. Access to the RAWS data greatly affects how agencies are able to view daily fire danger ratings and gauge a potential fire threat.

“As the severe drought drives fire season into a year-round event, access to real-time weather data is one of the few things that allow citizens on the ground to prepare for disaster,” said Geri Ventura, public information officer for the Montecito Fire Protection District.

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

“We are thrilled to house the RAWS at La Casa de Maria,” said Stephanie Glatt, co-director of La Casa de Maria. “We delight in the fact that we are assisting in protecting local homes and the safety of our entire community.”

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

— Flannery Hill is a publicist representing La Casa de Maria Retreat & Conference Center.


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