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Development of a Decision Matrix for National Weather Service Red Flag Warnings
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This thesis consists of a paper addressing operational fire weather through the examination of incidents of extreme wildfire behavior. Work performed during the period of study included analyzing documented occurrences of extreme fire behavior, examining meteorological phenomena associated with such, as well as identifying forecasting techniques currently being used and operational practices of land managers surrounding these forecasts. The result was a body of work prepared for submission to a peer reviewed journal which recommended a scientific methodology for issuing Red Flag Warnings utilizing a decision matrix derived from meteorological conditions associated with extreme rates of wildfire spread. Percentiles of Energy Release Component (a NFDRS index of fuel dryness), relative humidity, and windspeed were utilized as meteorological parameters. By assigning a severity-based numerical score to each parameter, the resulting total score for each incident can be tabulated in matrix form. Current forecast criteria, as well as previously issued warnings are also scored and compared.