2 The Steamboat Springs Smoke-Out: The Evolution of Impact-Based Decision Support

Monday, 18 August 2014
Aviary Ballroom (Catamaran Resort Hotel)
Jeffery D. Colton, NOAA/NWS, Grand Junction, CO; and M. T. Booth and M. P. Meyers

A controlled burn on 15 April 2010 resulted in a firestorm of controversy when a plume of smoke descended on the town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, lowering air quality and visibility for several hours. Surprised residents were demanding answers, the local media questioned all layers of government, and the agencies involved in the decision making process were looking for answers to prevent this type of incident from occurring again.

This study will look into the decisions made by forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Grand Junction, Colorado. What tools were used to deliver the weather message? Was there a breakdown in communication? Were the critical impacts relayed between the requesting agencies and the NWS? What mechanisms could have improved communication and would social media platforms have changed the outcome? Lessons learned yesterday will play a role in the ever changing world of impact based decision support services provided by NWS forecasters.

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