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Explorations: Fire Weather

The profile of Coleen Decker, who is a National Weather Service incident meteorologist, and the descriptions of fire weather on pages 207 through 211 of The AMS Weather Book are based on the author watching and talking with Decker one afternoon and the next morning, as she worked in the Payette National Forest office, in McCall, Idaho, forecasting for fire firefighters working in the national forest. This was followed by telephone conversations and e-mail exchanges. The sources listed below were also helpful.

  • John N. MacLean, Fire on the Mountain: The True Story of the South Canyon Fire (New York: Morrow, 1999) tells the story of the fire on Storm King Mountain in Colorado, including the role of Christopher Cuoco, who helped train Decker as a meteorologist. This book is a good introduction to the dangers of wild fire fighting, the culture of firefighters, and the work of fire meteorologists.
  • The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research’s Wildfires, Weather, & Climate Web site is a good introduction to wild fires and wild fire weather.
  • The Wildland Fire Web site is a good source of news and other information about wild fires and the men and women who fight them.

The fire described in the first paragraph of the Decker profile was the Cascade Complex fire, and the Incident Command Post where Decker was working was at Knox Ranch. The event described in the profile was known as the Knox Ranch Burn Around or Burn Over.

A downloadable PDF file from does a good job of telling the story in words and photos, and a YouTube video shows approximately seven minutes of the action. These files are on a page devoted to the incident, which has a text description and comments and two longer, downloadable videos at the bottom of the page.

book jacket
The AMS Weather Book:The Ultimate Guide to America’s Weather
Jack Williams
With Forewords by Rick Anthes and Stephanie Abrams
©2009, 368 pages, 140 color plates, 70 halftones 8-1/2 x 10-7/8
Cloth $35.00 ISBN: 9780226898988

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