40 Turbulence Forecasting for Firefighting Aviation Resources

Tuesday, 28 June 2016
Green Mountain Ballroom (Hilton Burlington )
Brian J. Billings, Millersville Univ., Millersville, PA; and J. B. Wachter

Firefighting operations in the western United States make heavy use of aviation resources. Large fires are first examined by air attack planes followed by aircraft transporting smokejumpers and/or the sequence of a leadplane and airtanker. If any one of these is grounded due to excessive turbulence, aerieal support of firefighting efforts will be lost. This presentation outlines a methodology for improving forecasts of turbulence specifically for these aircraft.

The NWS Albuquerque WFO runs a real-time WRF simulation at high resolution during the wildfire season. Due to the fires' location at the surface and the complex terrain of the western US, the initial output variables of interest are related to low-level (both mechanical and thermal) and mountain wave turbulence. To evaluate these simulations and identify areas for improvement requires flight-level turbulence data from the aircraft identified above. This data can be compared to the model data using analysis techniques from previous mountain weather field campaigns. Examples of processing the WRF output and the status of instrumenting firefighting aircraft are presented.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner