875 An Overview of the Unusual Severe Weather Events in a Near Record Fire Weather season in Alaska

Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Melissa Kreller, NOAA/NWSFO, Fairbanks, AK; and C. Cox, R. Metzger, and R. Thoman

When most people think of Three Body Scatter Spikes (TBSS), a feature seen within the Doppler radar reflectivity or a long track of right moving thunderstorms, the first thought is not Alaska. The National Weather Service (NWS) Fairbanks Weather Forecast Office (WFO) experienced an unusual high amount of severe weather in July and August 2015 coinciding with an abnormally active fire weather season. On August 2015, the amount of fire acres burned in Alaska reached 5.08 million acres, which ranked second in Alaska history. From the end of June through July 2015, the fire weather conditions and concerns increased dramatically for Alaska with several Incident Meteorologists (IMET's) dispatched to fire complexes and to the Fairbanks WFO to assist with an unprecedented volume of daily fire weather spot forecast requests. Critical decision support services were provided from the Fairbanks WFO to support the IMET and Incident Command Posts, particularly during the severe weather events.

A brief overview of the conditions leading to the near record fire acreage burned in Alaska will be discussed. The importance of the decision support services provided to the IMET's during critical weather events will be reviewed as well as improvements to communications. Three severe weather events will be examined using radar analysis and environmental conditions. Finally, a discussion of future work and needs in mesoscale analysis model support for fire and severe weather in Alaska will be provided.

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