SBBG Onsite Weather Station and Live Fuel Moisture Sampling

Onsite Weather Station (RAWS):

image of SBBG RAWS (onsite weather station) Remote Automatic Weather Stations (RAWS) are used throughout the country to monitor weather in remote locations for both fire protection and weather forecasting. The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden maintains a RAWS site on its grounds (visible from the Porter Trail).

Weather data is transmitted hourly to the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho and are used by our local National Weather Service in Oxnard to make accurate weather forecasts.

View the most recent data from the Garden's weather station

Live Fuel Moisture Sampling:

Live Fuel Moisture (LFM) is one measure of fire risk that agencies use in planning how to allocate their resources. LFM is simply the amount of moisture contained in fine fuels (living foliage and twigs less than 1/8 inch diameter) expressed as a percent of the dry weight of that fuel.

Fire agencies typically consider 60% to be a critical moisture level where fires can become catastrophic. Plants have high LFM in the winter and early spring, when rainfall is plentiful and the weather is cooler. In summer and fall, LFM drops as plants transpire water and soils dry out. The cycle repeats itself annually, with plants again increasing in LFM (and decreasing in flammability) following the first fall rains.

The Santa Barbara Botanic Garden has collaborated with the University of California Cooperative Extension since 2013 to measure LFM in vegetation at several sites near the Garden, including along Painted Cave Road, at the top of Tunnel Road, and at St. Mary's Seminary on Las Canoas Road. We collect from two species: chamise (Adenostoma fasiculatum) and bigpod ceanothus (Ceanothus megacarpus).

Historical LFM Trends

This chart below shows the average LFM trend at two sites and for two species from 2013-2020. Click the chart to see a larger version. graphic depicting Live Fuel Moisture SBBG/UCCE: 2013-2020

2020 LFM Trends

This chart shows the LFM trends for 2020 along Painted Cave Road, and will be updated regularly as weather conditions allow data collection. Click the chart to see a larger version. As of August 24, 2020, some shrubs along Painted Cave Road have reached or dropped below the critical 60% threshold. graphic depicting Live Fuel Moisture SBBG/UCCE: June 2020 - August 2020

Get Involved

If you are interested in volunteering with the LFM project, please email the Garden's Manager of Volunteer Programs, Kathy Castaneda. Volunteers help 3-5 hours of sample collection and sample weighing every other week.