Colorado to beta test new fire behavior prediction system

From KUNC:


“…The state of Colorado has agreed to beta test a new system pioneered by the Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research starting late in the 2016 fire season.


Right now, as William Mahoney, [Deputy director of the research applications lab] at NCAR explained, there are weather models, and there are fire models, but the two don’t mix. Since the modern, super-wildfires of today are creating their own weather, neither model works all that well alone.

Yet even though NCAR developed this model in their laboratory and let the federal government and states know about it, they have not had the chance to test it in real time. Until now.

In the 2015 legislative session, Colorado lawmakers, frustrated by what they viewed as slow federal responses to devastating wildfires in 2012 and 2013, voted to fund the NCAR model for a real-world trial over the next five years. State legislators also approved new aerial firefighting capabilities in 2013 as part of this effort.

Mahoney said one challenge is taking the model from the lab bench to the local emergency manager. Ideally, when lightning strikes a tree and a small fire starts, people in the state’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control can go to a computer, click on a map where the fire is, and that will launch the NCAR model.

That model will generate an 18-hour prediction of where the fire is going and how it is likely to behave…”

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.