P1.12 A journey down under: Operational fire weather forecasting exchange for the 2006-2007 fire season

Tuesday, 23 October 2007
Wingwood (Atlantic Oakes Resort)
Heath Hockenberry, NOAA Fire and Public Weather Services Branch, Boise, ID; and R. Hicks and R. Ochoa

During the 2006-2007 Southern Hemisphere summer across southern Australia, very dry conditions occurred making an already established drought even worse. In fact, many have termed this dry spell the worst drought in Australia's recorded history. Forest fuels were very dry, along with critically large fuel amounts. In addition, an El Nino episode was forming and the seasonal forecast predicted below average rainfall and above average temperatures. Consequently, the conditions were aligning to create very serious fire season.

The Australia Bureau of Meteorology assessed the situation and decided to offer an unprecedented invitation to NOAA NWS fire weather forecasters. The invitation was to travel to Australia and provide assistance with fire weather forecasting duties, supplementing a staff that was becoming over-extended via very abnormal fire forecasting requirements. The concept was to use a small number of experienced NWS Fire Weather Forecasters and BLM Predictive Services Meteorologists to bolster the staff resources in the Bureau of Meteorology's forecasting offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Hobart.

This poster will focus on how the groundwork was laid to make this forecasting assistance possible, the duties of the visiting forecasters and the lessons learned from this unprecedented forecasting assistance.

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