by Tyler O'Neal, 2 years ago
Collaborator: Wilfrid Schroeder (Univ. of Maryland) On June 30, 2013, 19 firefighters were killed during the Yarnell Hill fire, when a gust front coming from the northeast blew across the fire, changing its direction, and making it spread rapidly across where they were sheltered. The animation depicts a CAWFE coupled weather-wildland fire model simulation of the Yarnell Hill Fire. The horizontal resolution was 370 m, a vector is shown each 4 model grid points. It begins at 2 am on 6/30/13. The fire is initialized in the model using the ~3 am VIIRS active fire detection map. Each frame is 1 minute apart, the sequence extends until 8:15 pm on 6/30. The fatality occurred around 4:45 PM. The color bar on the right indicates the heat flux (watts per square meter) from the fire, with more intensely burning areas in bright yellow and white, and less intensely burning areas in darker reds. In the simulation, solar heating stirs up the boundary layer circulations throughout the day. Convection occurs in outer domains (not shown) to the northeast (upper right), creating high-based convective clouds as upper level air flows southeast over the Mogollon Rim. Rain falls into a very dry boundary layer, creating a broad gust front that reaches the south edge of the fire at frame 936. Comparison with the fatality report suggest the simulated timing for the gust front reaching the northeast edge of the fire and the fatality site are within 15 minutes of occurrence.

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