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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Hi-Rise - Hazardous Incident Rapid in-Flight Support Effort: Use of Asynoptic Upper-Air Data to Improve Weather Forecasts at Wildland Fires and Other Hazardous Incidents

Authors
item Witsaman, Paul - NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
item Zeitler, Jon - NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
item Oaks, Monte - NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
item Murdoch, Greg - NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
item Nagle, Seth - NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
item Hoffmann, Wesley
item Fritz, Bradley

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: August 15, 2005
Publication Date: October 25, 2005
Citation: Witsaman, P.G., Zeitler, J.W., Oaks, M.C., Murdoch, G.P., Nagle, S.R., Hoffmann, W.C., Fritz, B.K. 2005. HI-RISE - Hazardous incident rapid in-flight support effort: Use of asynoptic upper-air data to improve weather forecasts at wildland fires and other hazardous incidents. In: Proceedings of the Joint 6th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and 19th Interior West Fire Council Meeting, October 25-27, 2005, Canmore, Alberta, Canada. 2005 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Quality weather forecasts for wildland fires and hazardous material incidents depend on the surface and upper air observations made available to on-site meteorologists. Surface observations from Remote Automated Weather Station sites usually provide spatially and temporally sufficient data to monitor current weather, warn of impending hazards, and improve forecasts. The spatial and temporal resolution of upper air observation sites is much coarser, yet this data is still used to make on-site forecasts. The HI-RISE (Hazardous Incident - Rapid In-flight Support Effort) concept provided real-time local upper air observations at an incident site using an aircraft-mounted meteorological monitoring system in an effort to significantly improve on-site weather forecasts. Field tests of this concept demonstrated a method, using off the shelf technology, by which real-time upper-air data can be incorporated into an operational setting for more accurate on-site forecasts.

Technical Abstract: Quality weather forecasts for wildland fires and other hazardous material (HAZMAT) incidents depend on surface and upper air observations along with model data. Often, meteorologists are deployed on-site to the wildfire or incident and are referred to as Incident Meteorologists (IMETs). Routine and non-routine surface observations provide invaluable information to monitor current weather, warn others of impending hazards, and to improve incident forecasts. Surface observations from fixed Remote Automated Weather Station sites, portable RAWS or other nearby sensors usually provide adequate spatial and temporal resolution to understand surface weather conditions. However, the spatial and temporal resolution of upper air observations is much coarser. The average distance between rawinsonde stations in the Continental U.S. is 315 km. These upper air observations are taken two times per day around 0000 and 1200 UTC. There is a processing and transmission time-delay of one to three hours from the time of the upper air observation until data is available for use by the IMET. Despite the spatial and temporal limitations of the synoptic upper air observation network, IMETs use this data to make forecasts. The HI-RISE (Hazardous Incident - Rapid In-flight Support Effort) concept allowed routine access to real-time local upper air observations at an incident similar to surface observations; which significantly improved weather forecasts. During the HI-RISE tests, real-time on-site upper air observations provided useful weather information to IMETs and a Weather Forecast Office (WFO) meteorologist supporting the incident. HI-RISE demonstrated that real-time on-site upper air data can be used to modify and improve the forecast. This helped meet the Texas Forest Service's goal of a safe burn for ground and aviation crews. The tests also proved that asynoptic upper air data can be incorporated real-time into an operational setting using off the shelf technology. The IMETs on-site and the WFO meteorologist noted their confidence in the forecast increased by having the asynoptic upper air data in real-time.

Last Modified: 7/12/2014