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Extreme Weather and Wildfire

This page describes the data, code, and products that were either used in or generated by the Extreme Weather and Wildfire Team in its historical analysis. This work has two components: identifying regional archetype weather patterns associated with the rapid growth of large fires, and conducting microscale  (<1 km) coupled weather-wildland fire simulations for select fire events. Results of these analyses further improve the ability of fire practitioners to forecast potential extreme wildfire events.  

The team performed a regional-scale analysis of weather patterns associated with large daily fire growth in the past. The goal was to identify regional archetype weather patterns that can support rapid fire growth.

Data used for input in this analysis can be found in publicly accessible archives:

Input data on daily fire growth and burn severity can be found at the following locations: 

The Python source code for the statistical analysis and visualization of data in this document can be accessed through GitHub

The team also conducted microscale coupled weather-wildland fire simulations for select fire events. The Coupled Atmosphere-Wildland Fire Environment Model (CAWFE) simulates the growth of a wildfire in response to weather, fuel conditions, and terrain.

The CAWFE source code is written in Fortran and employs the use of C shell scripts and NCAR Graphics. It is distributed by request; please contact Dr. Janice Coen,

CAWFE consists of the Clark-Hall numerical weather prediction model and a wildland fire behavior module. These are documented in the following articles:

  • Coen, J. L., 2013: Modeling Wildland Fires: A Description of the Coupled Atmosphere-Wildland Fire Environment Model (CAWFE). NCAR Technical Note NCAR/TN-500+ STR. 
  • Clark, T.L., W.D. Hall, and J.L. Coen, 1996: Source Code Documentation for the Clark-Hall Cloud-scale Model Code Version G3CH01. NCAR Technical Note NCAR/TN- 426+STR.  

The data used to initialize the convective-scale CAWFE simulations include (but are not limited to) the following: 

Fire ignition, active fire, or perimeter data from various public sources, including

InciWeb, NASA Active Fire Data, and the National Interagency Fire Center

Animations of fires contributing to the analysis are hosted at the Pyregence Atmospheric Coupled Wildfire Simulations page.

This is a living archive. As further publications and results are released, they will be added to this webpage. 

Historical Analysis

We analyzed the types of extreme weather associated with major fires in eight distinct regions across California.

We can now provide a way to make critical comparisons, with the ability to quantify the similarity of any given day’s weather to problematic historical conditions.