2002 Annual

Wednesday, 16 January 2002: 2:00 PM
Fire Danger Assessment in Florida
Arlene G. Laing, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL; and C. H. Paxton
In response to the unprecedented Florida wildfire outbreaks of 1998 and the prolonged activity of the last two years, new emphasis has been placed on fire weather forecasting. This study examines the role of lightning, sea-breeze convergence, precipitation, fuel-type, and large-scale circulations on fire initiation and daily fire spread. Further to advancing our theoretical understanding of wildfire environments, new visualization tools will be used to assess the singular or combined impact of these factors in order to create better fire weather forecasts.

The National Weather Service Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE) will be used in forecast offices to produce graphical fire weather forecasts in addition to text forecasts. Graphical forecasts will reveal more detailed weather trends over an area. For example, fire interests will better view humidity trends and timing of wind shifts and precipitation. The software's scripting and grid manipulation capability extends farther though, and provides methods to derive new fire weather forecast parameters. For example, results from a wind regime based lightning climatology are imported as grids and merged with precipitation forecasts, new grid based dispersion and fire behavior indices are calculated based on model sounding data, and smoke plume forecasts are overlaid on surface land use maps.

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