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Individual Highlight

FireBusting Weather Forecasts

Photo of A screen shot of FireBuster 1-km run results showing surface wind speed (in color) and wind vector forecast for the area around Berardo Fire on Aug. 13, 2014 (lower-left of the map), about 5 miles south of Escondido, CA. The map shows 38th hour forecasted weather validated at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, August 14, 2014. Signature Santa Ana wind was from the east and modified by the terrain. The forecasted weather and wind were validated well against those corresponding Remote Automatic Weather Stations of San Pasqual (near center of the map) and Goose Valley (right), respectively, at this particular hour, as well as during the entire 72-hour forecast. John Benoit, USDA Forest ServiceA screen shot of FireBuster 1-km run results showing surface wind speed (in color) and wind vector forecast for the area around Berardo Fire on Aug. 13, 2014 (lower-left of the map), about 5 miles south of Escondido, CA. The map shows 38th hour forecasted weather validated at 7 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, August 14, 2014. Signature Santa Ana wind was from the east and modified by the terrain. The forecasted weather and wind were validated well against those corresponding Remote Automatic Weather Stations of San Pasqual (near center of the map) and Goose Valley (right), respectively, at this particular hour, as well as during the entire 72-hour forecast. John Benoit, USDA Forest ServiceSnapshot : FireBuster is a new web tool to produce timely, detailed 72-hour high-resolution forecasts of fire weather in mountainous areas over Southern California.

Principal Investigators(s) :
Chen, Shyh-Chin 
Research Location : Riverside, California
Research Station : Pacific Southwest Research Station (PSW)
Year : 2014
Highlight ID : 681

Summary

The complex terrain in mountainous areas has complex impacts on wind and weather. As the Weather Service does not provide forecasts that capture these details, regional computer models can enhance the official forecasts. But this high-resolution weather information is usually not available until after a severe fire event is over; thus, the benefits of high-resolution weather models for fire management have been limited. To address this limitation, Forest Service scientists developed an experimental system called FireBuster. FireBuster is designed to produce forecasts at 5 km (about 3 mile) resolution over Southern California. A field forecaster can request a special 1 km (about 0.6 mile) resolution 72-hour forecast with only a few clicks on a Google map. The results can be retrieved through a web interface (computed in 6-hour increments). FireBuster provides firefighters with location-specific, detailed weather forecasts, including winds, and could help save lives and protect communities.

Forest Service Partners

External Partners

  • R5 Fire and Aviation Management - Southern California Geographic Area Coordination Center
  • Henry H.M. Juang, National Weather Service/National Center for Environmental Prediction
  • Jack Ritchie, Scripps Institute of Oceanography/UC-San Diego

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