AbstractSpot weather forecasts (SWFs) are issued by Weather Service offices throughout the United States and are primarily for use by wildfire and prescribed fire practitioners for monitoring local-scale weather conditions. This paper focuses on use of SWFs by prescribed fire practitioners. Based on qualitative, in-depth interviews with fire practitioners and National Weather Service forecasters, this paper examines factors that influence perceptions of accuracy and utilization of SWFs. Results indicate that, while several well-understood climatological, topographical, and data-driven factors influence forecast accuracy, social factors likely have the greater impact on perceptions of accuracy, quantitative accuracy, and utilization. These include challenges with building and maintaining relationships between forecasters and fire managers, communication issues around updating SWFs, and communicating forecast confidence and uncertainty. Operationally, improved quantitative skill in a forecast is always desirable, but key opportunities for improving accuracy and utilization of these forecasts lie in 1) enhancing the processes and mechanisms for communication between a Weather Forecast Office and fire practitioners—before, during, and after an SWFs is issued—and 2) working with the wildland fire community to experiment with forecast uncertainty and confidence information in SWFs and evaluate impacts of these approaches.
Weather, Climate, and Society – American Meteorological Society
Published: Apr 24, 2017
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