New smoke forecast for still active Nelson forest fire

8 February 2019

The Pigeon Valley fire near Wakefield remains active, so a further smoke forecasts are being produced by Scion’s Rural Fire Research Team.

The latest forecast indicates smoke dispersion for Friday 8 February, and the influence of changing wind direction.

If the fire activity continues, smoke hazard remains high.

Of high importance, this smoke impact could be noticeable-to-heavy in the following areas: Upper Moutere, Redwood Valley, Mapua, Tasman, Motueka, Wakefield, Brightwater and Richmond on Friday morning, and potentially over large areas of Tasman, Nelson and Motueka from 11am Friday onwards.

Smoke forecast thumbnail 

There is potential for smoke to impact highways, particularly in the early morning in the Tasman-Mapua areas. Narrow valleys are especially vulnerable to smoke impacts on visibility (on roads) and health, particularly Friday morning.  

Tourist areas along Abel Tasman and Golden Bay are predicted to get some smoke, from very light to moderate concentrations, with possible light impacts stretching as far as Marlborough from 11 am Friday onwards with the forecast wind change from the northwest.

Hourly averages of fine particulate matter concentrations (PM2.5) and smoke impacts are shown. Green indicates very light smoke impact, yellow indicates a light impact. Concentrations in orange and purple indicate potential for unhealthy levels of smoke. People with asthma or other breathing conditions may be most severely affected, and should avoid exposure where possible by staying indoors with windows and doors closed.
The forecast was produced using a real-time smoke and fire spread prediction tool being developed by Scion’s Rural Fire Research team as part of its MBIE-funded ‘Preparing NZ for Extreme Fire’ research programme. 

The model is for active fire burning in heavy pine forest fuels, so provides worst case probability of smoke concentrations, and therefore these should be used as indicatory only.

Check the Rural Fire Research team’s blog for updates

Contact tara.strand@scionresearch.com for more information.