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
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
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
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.