New research on fire weather may help prevent spread of California wildfires

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Groundbreaking research on fire weather was presented at San Jose State University on Friday. The university held the first ever Fire Weather Research Workshop, a day-long event looking at new modeling and forecasting tools that can benefit firefighters and may help stop the spread of wildfires.

"In the Bay Area, it's the hot, dry windy days that have led to the extreme fire behavior the region has experienced over the past few years," says Ryan Walburn, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"We know that from the North Bay Fires and the Camp Fire," says Walburn.

Walburn says better understanding wind patterns can have a huge impact, in terms of fighting fires and possibly preventing fires.

Breakthroughs in technology have also helped with new research.

"Using radar technology so we can detect fires, how they evolve over time, that's where the state of (fire) research is going," says Craig Clements, who heads the Fire Weather Research Laboratory at SJSU.

Clements says the huge advancements in technology give them new tools, but new research is proving just as important. Experts will be presenting the first-ever study in California of Diablo winds-- which create some of the most dangerous fire conditions, he says.

"New technologies have emerged that allow us to monitor and probe wildfires inside their plumes and around the fire front. Before, we couldn't actually understand or measure the winds around the fire," explains Clements.

Walburn says these new findings don't just help firefighters. They can be important in recovery efforts, as well.

"The preparedness of the basic community so that they are ready for these events, so that we are not surprised buy them anymore," says Walburn
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