Tuesday, 18 October 2011: 11:30 AM
Grand Zoso Ballroom Center (Hotel Zoso)
The use of meteorological analogs, a predictive and analysis technique based on the quasi-repeatability of atmospheric fields and their resultant sensible weather, is a proven method in the identification of significant weather events. This study documents the use of analog guidance produced at Saint Louis University's Cooperative Institute for Precipitation Systems (CIPS) in the prediction of episodic wildfire outbreaks during the devastating 2011 Texas fire season. The CIPS analog guidance, which correlates gridded numerical model forecasts to past weather as represented by the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR), quantitatively identified the dates of historic Southern Plains wildfire outbreaks in advance of similarly destructive wildfire episodes on 27 February, 22 March and 2-3 April. Prior to each of these extreme fire events, the CIPS analog guidance determined statistically significant correlations between forecast computer model output and NARR for one or more dates of 10 previously documented Southern Plains wildfire outbreaks that occurred between 2005 and 2009. Analog dates corresponding to past wildfire outbreaks ranked in the top 15 matches when compared to a database of approximately 21,600 potential analogs consisting of NARR data analyzed over a 30-year period. The analog guidance led to increased confidence for National Weather Service fire meteorologists in their successful predictions and warnings prior to these rare and extremely dangerous wildfire episodes.
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