Meteorologist helps firefighters battle wildfire

The meteorologist provides real time weather forecasts for firefighters.

BOISE - When it comes to a fire camp the situation tent is the brains of the operation. Inside is the fire behavior analyst and the incident meteorologist, who provides real-time weather forecasts to those firefighters out in the field. 

"You can really see the firefighters perk up and listen when it comes to the weather portion of the briefing every morning," said Sandy Kollenberg with the Great Basin Incident Management Team 6.

The incident meteorologist will monitor the weather throughout the day and provide real-time weather forecasts for those firefighters out in the field. 

"How the terrain is going to affect the cold front. Will they see these winds in division Foxtrot or a different part of the fire?" said incident meteorologist Chuck Redman.

When it comes to fighting fires, weather is one of the main driving forces. 

"You've got weather, fuels, and topography and weather being the most dynamic," Kollenberg said.

There are just a little over 80 incident meteorologist throughout the country who get put on large fires, like the Pioneer Fire, every year.

"When they bring in a Type I team or a Type II team typically they ask for an incident meteorologist to come in, help them make weather decisions," Redman said.

Those forecasts help incident commanders determine where to put crews and how firefighters will attack the fire for that day. 

"Up at 5 a.m. preparing the forecast for them, doing 6 o'clock briefing for them and then basically doing a weather watch the entire day, just seeing what's going to happen," Redman said.

That's because unlike the terrain or fuel, weather can change at any given moment. 

"Firefighter and public safety that's what we're here about," Redman said.

Redman says that puts a little bit more pressure on him and other meteorologists. 

"We're still forecasting the weather, but you're looking at them face-to-face and they're going to let you know if you're wrong," Redman said.

Garden Valley did see some cooler temperatures on Tuesday, which you would think would help with the fire's growth. However, Redman says that's not the case because it's not so much the temperatures, but the humidity or moisture that's in the air. Redman says right now those are still relatively low.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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