92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Tuesday, 24 January 2012: 4:00 PM
New Advances for the Incident Meteorologist Program in 2011
La Nouvelle C (New Orleans Convention Center )
Robyn Heffernan, NOAA/NWS, Boise, ID

Wildfire is a growing threat each year for communities across the United States and the demand for fire weather decision support services is increasing as well. Fire weather decision support is core to the service the National Weather Service provides. Annually on average there are 76,470 wildfires that burn 6.53 million acres. The need for fire weather information to prepare for and support these incidents is huge, and growing. The NWS fire weather program is planning for the future and implementing new initiatives in an effort to meet the growing need.

The need for Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) is growing, and the type of incident that IMETs are requested to respond to is becoming more diverse. Therefore, the IMET program is being re-designed to meet this need. IMETs will be organized according to the type of incident and special qualifications required for the incident. In 2011, IMETs were requested for a variety of services including flooding support, tornado recovery, and fire support that lasted over 5 months in some locations.

New technologies are being employed to assist IMETs in going beyond the service of the past and actively catering service to assist in making the decision of the moment. In 2011, new technologies employed include new compact upper-air systems for use on incidents, a new radar analysis and display system, and a new experimental fire weather suite of products from the National Center for Environmental Prediction. In addition, some new technologies are being tested in the fall of 2011 such as the Bureau of Land Management portable compact weather station network to compliment incident RAWS, and HYSPLIT trajectory runs accessible through the NWS spot webpages.

The NOAA National Weather Service works directly with its land management and community partners to deliver a fire weather decision support service that remains relevant and valuable through the changing environment of wildland fire management.

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