HIGH-TECH METEOROLOGY HELPS NOAA FORECAST FIRE WEATHER
July 23, 2003 ó On-site weather support from NOAA National Weather Service personnel for hazardous situations, such as wildfires and chemical releases, is critical during such events. Incident Command System weather support, in the form of forecasts and observations, is accomplished by the use of portable special meteorological equipment. This equipment includes the All-hazards Meteorological Response System, the Atmospheric Theodolite Meteorological Unit, and Fire Remote Automated Weather Stations. (Click NOAA image for larger view of IMET Chuck Redman from the NOAA National Weather Service forecast office in Boise, Idaho, setting up the FireRAWS equipment near a wildfire. Click here for high resolution version, which is a large file. Please credit “NOAA.”)
The incident support group of the NOAA National Weather Service is primarily comprised of Incident Meteorologists, or IMETS, who are specially trained to install, operate and maintain the equipment while on-site at remote locations.
Meteorological Response Systems
NOAA IMETs have completed certified installer training, required by the Federal Communications Commission, for installation of the two-way satellite equipment.
The advanced computer software available with AMRS was developed through a collaborative effort between staff in the NOAA National Weather Service Western Region headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, and the NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratories in Boulder, Colo.
IMETs can now access mesoscale numerical models, NOAA satellite imagery, specific wind speed and direction at various heights from the nearby Doppler weather radars or remote sensors by using one software program. In the past, IMETs accessed numerous programs for each needed weather data set. The speed and capability of AMRS allow for better on-site meteorological support, and in the end, increased safety of the personnel handling the hazardous incident.
The AMRS system was first tested by forecasters during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, as well as by IMETs during the 2001 and 2002 wildfire seasons. During these prototype deployments, meteorologists were able to give the system rigorous field testing.
Theodolite Meteorological Unit
The ATMU is composed of a theodolite (an instrument that is used in surveying and is used to find vertical and horizontal angles), tripod, weather balloons and miscellaneous tools for observing wind speed and direction at various heights above the incident location.
Wind forecasts and observation continue to be a very important weather element for wildfire and hazardous materials support, and the ATMU allows the IMET the ability to observe wind aloft by tracking the flight of a weather balloon.
Remote Automated Weather Stations
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