Forecasting Thunderstorm Outflow Boundaries: Impacts and Implications for Wildland Firefighting

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Monday, 3 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Darren Clabo, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Rapid City, SD; and O. H. Shieh

Handout (2.4 MB)

Thunderstorm outflow research has primarily focused on the role of boundary interactions in convective initiation and tornadogenesis. However, the wildland fire community has a unique demand for understanding outflow boundaries. Fire managers are aware that outflow winds can present challenges to fire suppression and safety in wildland fire operations. Subtle changes in wind speed and direction can have large and potentially devastating consequences to aerial and ground firefighting operations. This paper reviews empirical and theoretical studies on thunderstorm downdrafts and resultant outflow boundaries and places this knowledge within the context of wildland fire management. Case studies will be presented to illustrate the impacts of outflow boundaries, followed by a comparison of wildland fire operations. Subsequently, forecasting methodologies and best practices for fire weather meteorologists will be discussed. Finally, recommendations will be provided to improve communication between fire meteorologists and fire managers to address the challenges posed by imminent threats associated with outflow winds.