Research Paper RMRS-RP-9
Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado
Appendix C: Mesoscale Meteorological Model
Because the wind was so critical to this event, it sparked the interest of mesoscale meteorology modelers. Could such a wind be modeled, or even forecast by a high resolution mesoscale model? One interested group was the Mesoscale Meteorology Section at Los Alamos National Laboratory (in association with Crisis Forecasting Research being conducted by the Advanced Computing Laboratory). Figure C-1 presents predicted wind vectors 33 feet above the ground in a surface following coordinate system at approximately 1600 hours on July 6, 1994 (Bossert and others 1998). These predictions were made using a four-level nested grid of the RAMS (Pielke and others 1992) mesoscale model at a final grid resolution of 33 feet using 100 foot elevation data. Model initialization was facilitated by a (MAPS) analysis provided by the Forecasting Systems Laboratory, Boulder, CO.
Figure C-1 -- Wind vectors from MAPS run. Heavy dashed line is approximate location of West Flank Fireline. X's are approximate locations of helispots.
While these results are preliminary and not feasible on a real-time basis, the high resolution simulation supports the 25 to 35 mile per hour winds blowing upcanyon in the West Drainage and the 45 to 50 mile per hour westerly winds blowing over H-1 and the Saddle. The predictions support the other evidence suggesting less wind in the area of the Double Draws and along the lower half of the West Flank Fireline. This is consistent with several witness statements (Scholz 1995; Hipke 1995). The streamlines shown in figure C-2 suggest that local areas of lower winds in the vicinity of the lower portion of the West Flank Fireline are possible and provide an excellent visualization of the channeling of air up the West Drainage (Bossert and others 1998).
The Los Alamos simulations support the mesoscale wind analysis by meteorologists on the Accident Investigation Team (USDA, USDI, and USDC 1994).
Figure C-2 -- Streamlines from MAPS run. Heavy dashed line is approximate location of West Flank Fireline. X's are approximate locations of helispots.
Title: Appendix C: Mesoscale Meteorological
Mode: RMRS-RP-9 - Fire Behavior Associated with the 1994 South
Canyon Fire on Storm King Mountain, Colorado
Publish Date: February 5, 1999
Last Update: December 22, 2005
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