18th Conference on Weather and Forecasting, 14th Conference on Numerical Weather Prediction, and Ninth Conference on Mesoscale Processes

Tuesday, 31 July 2001
Operational fire weather support through the use of a mesoscale forecast model
Michael P. Meyers, NOAA/NWSFO, Grand Junction, CO; and E. M. Page, R. L. McAnelly, and W. R. Cotton
An important forecasting responsibility for the Grand Junction weather forecast office (WFO) deals with fire weather forecast operations. The needs of the fire weather community are very dependent on the mesoscale interactions, which, in some ways are beyond the quantitative scope of more traditional NCEP models. A joint research effort between the NWS and Colorado State University (CSU) through the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) attempts to add value to this forecasting problem through the use of a "local mesoscale model". For the past year, numerical output from the Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) run at CSU has been available to several forecast offices across the Intermountain West and the High Plains region through the project. The objective of this research is to evaluate the feasibility and impact of a local-scale model on fire weather and smoke management forecasting.

Fine scale detail for fire weather forecasts is critical, and this need is exasperated in complex topography where slope-valley interactions have a profound influence on the kinematic structure and the precipitation evolution in this environment. Forecast products which we will evaluate specifically are the fire weather zone forecasts, the trend forecasts, and the spot forecasts (prescribed or wildfire burns). Parameters which are required for these forecasts such as: wind speed, temperature, humidity, mixing height, transport winds, etc., will be available through our model output from CSU. Both quantitative and qualitative assessment will be addressed, including comparisons to operational NCEP models and verification with observations. On a case by case basis more detailed comparisons will be performed.

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