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Adding to Fire Fighter Safety by Including Real-Time Radar Data in Short-Range Forecasts of Thunderstorm-Induced Wind Shifts

Author(s): Gary Achtemeier, Scott L. Goodrick
Year Published: 2021
Description:

Abrupt changes in wind direction and speed caused by thunderstorm-generated gust fronts can, within a few seconds, transform slow-spreading low-intensity flanking fires into high-intensity head fires. Flame heights and spread rates can more than double. Fire mitigation strategies are challenged and the safety of fire crews is put at risk. We propose a class of numerical weather prediction models that incorporate real-time radar data and which can provide fire response units with images of accurate very short-range forecasts of gust front locations and intensities. Real-time weather radar data are coupled with a wind model that simulates density currents over complex terrain. Then two convective systems from formation and merger to gust front arrival at the location of a wildfire at Yarnell, Arizona, in 2013 are simulated. We present images of maps showing the progress of the gust fronts toward the fire. Such images can be transmitted to fire crews to assist decision-making. We conclude, therefore, that very short-range gust front prediction models that incorporate real-time radar data show promise as a means of predicting the critical weather information on gust front propagation for fire operations, and that such tools warrant further study.

Citation: Achtemeier GL and Goodrick SL. 2021. Adding to Fire Fighter Safety by Including Real-Time Radar Data in Short-Range Forecasts of Thunderstorm-Induced Wind Shifts. Fire 4(3):55. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire4030055
Topic(s): Fire Behavior, Weather, Human Dimensions of Fire Management, Human Factors of Firefighter Safety
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Book or Chapter or Journal Article
NRFSN number: 23511
Record updated: Sep 2, 2021