Fire Weather Communications

About this simulation

COMET simulations allow learners to make mistakes and learn from them in a safe environment. The branching simulation below is a great way for learners to see how and why they may need to modify their communication with partners during wildfires. After three tries, it offers specific feedback about things that learners need to improve. This simulation is part of the MetEd lesson Fire Weather Communications: Clear Communication, which introduces forecasters to the communication strategies used for decision support services during wildland fire incidents.

Communications Simulation

This simulation will give you a chance to apply what you already know about communicating fire weather information to National Weather Service (NWS) partners. You will take the role of a NWS meteorologist communicating fire weather information to a Fire Operations Chief via a teleconference. Your partner’s reaction and decisions will change based on your selections.

There are three questions in this simulation. To complete the simulation successfully, you will need to select the correct answer for all three questions. Feedback is available only after you complete the simulation. You will have three attempts to complete the simulation successfully. Launch the simulation when you are ready.

Scenario: In July, drought and lightning strikes have led to a number of large fires across northwest California and southwest Oregon. Thousands of firefighters and multiple Incident Management Teams are deployed across the region, and resources are stretched thin. It is August, and for a second time this month, thunderstorms are forecast to roll through the region as a small cut-off low lingers off the California coast.

You are a forecaster in the Medford, Oregon Weather Forecast Office (WFO) and you are working with 5 Incident Meterologists (IMETs) on various fires, and a couple of Type II teams that do not have IMETs assigned to them yet. One of those Type II fires without an IMET is the Little Deer fire in Siskiyou County, California.

An earlier call with the IMETs revealed that they are frustrated by the inability to use the models to develop a sense of timing or intensity for the thunderstorms. The firefighters are very worried about control issues due to erratic winds. The HRRR model guidance indicates thunderstorms developing between 16:00 and 18:00 PDT. The Storm Prediction Center has a general risk of convection for the day. One limiting factor is that recent thunderstorms have tempered fuels with the humidity not much below 30%, so you do not expect many new fire starts. The weather could be a problem for existing fires, but the risk for starting new fires is low.

Firefighters in an open National Guard vehicle.

You receive a call from an Operations Section Chief at the Little Deer fire. The Operations Chief explains that they have National Guard troops in the field fighting the fire. Their main operational constraint is that their vehicles are not enclosed in the back, just tarped. If a thunderstorm develops, their only option is to disengage 90 minutes ahead of any storms to drive back to Yreka. This will limit the risk that the troops will be struck by lightning, either on the line or in the back of the trucks. This also limits how far they are going to let the troops hike off the roads without adding too much time to their 90 minute window.

Launch Simulation