Fourth Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology

Tuesday, 13 November 2001
The 2000 Bitterroot Wildfire: Observations and Preliminary Modeling Results
Kenneth Westrick, 3TIER Environmental Forecast Group, Inc, Seattle, WA; and S. A. Ferguson
The 2000 fire season was particularly devastating in the Bitterroot region of western Montana and eastern Idaho where by the end of September over 330,000 acres had burned (BF2000). At its peak in mid and late August nearly 3,000 personnel were involved with battling this fire. While the size of this wildfire is less than the 800,000 acres that burned during the 1988 Yellowstone National Park fire, the sheer number of separate fires as well as their proximity to populated regions complicated firefighting strategies thus placing a significant precedence on controlling the blazes.

An effort to ascertain the predictability of the relevant meteorologic fields during this wildfire is being undertaken by the U.S. Forest Service Forest Sciences Laboratory. The Penn State-NCAR mesoscale atmospheric model MM5 will be used to predict the synoptic- and meso-scale evolution, while the CalMet model will be used to resolve the finer scale atmospheric motions as well as the smoke dispersion. This poster will describe conditions leading up to and during this wildfire, including observations of lightning activity in the region. Preliminary results from the MM5 simulations for the seven week wildfire period will also be presented.

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