What is Firebuster?
Firebuster is a web tool to produce timely, detailed 72-hour high-resolution forecasts of fire weather in mountainous areas over southern California.

Why are we doing this?
Wind and weather in mountainous areas are complex because of the underlaid complex terrain. Since Weather Service does not provide such detailed forecasts, regional computer models have to be used to enhance the official coarse resolution forecasts. However this high-resolution weather information usually can be available only when a severe fire event was long over. Thus the advantage of using high-resolution weather model for fire management was limited. We have developed this experimental system called FireBuster designed to streamline and automate many intermediate processes.

How do we do it?
We are routinely producing downscaled forecasts at 5 km (~3 mile) resolution oversouthern California using NCEP's nonhydrostatic Mesoscale Spectral Model (MSM) driven by NCEP global AVN forecasts (from NOMADS server). An authenticated field forecaster can then select any part in the 5-km resolution domain to request a special 1 km (~0.6 mile) resolution 72-hour forecast with only a few clicks on a google-map. All computations are done on high performance computers at PSW Riverside. The resulting fire weather variables can be retrieved in a reasonable time through a web interface as each 6-hour increment is done. Near surface weather from the Meso-West observational network are also available for display, as soon as they become available, for future validation. In addition, 72-hour weather forecast time series anywhere in the domain can be retrieved simply by a click on the map. This feature provides fire meteorologist or firefighters with detailed weather forecasts, including winds, at their location and could potentially be of life or property saving value in the event of wildfires.

Any future implementation?
Future enhancements will include actual fire perimeters and economic data layer so that FireBuster can truly be part of an integrated fire management tool.


FireBusterSim is just like FireBuster, except for downscaled simulations rather than forecasts. It is done by forcing MSM with NCEP global AVN analysis.


The development of FireBuster and FireBusterSim were supported by USFS research, as well as awards from the USFS Western Wildlands Environmental Threat Assessment Center (WWETAC) and the Joint Fire Science Program. Regional forecasts and simulations from these tools are experimental, and hence no endorsement by the USDA is implied.