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TitleSynthesis of Knowledge of Extreme Fire Behavior
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Table of Contents
                            Synthesis of Knowledge of Extreme Fire Behavior: Volume I for Fire Managers
	Authors
	Abstract
	Preface
	Summary
	Contents
	Chapter 1: Introduction
		Definition
		Methods
		Literature Cited
	Chapter 2: Effects of Complex Terrain on Extreme Fire Behavior
		Introduction
		Wind Systems in Mountainous Terrain
			Dynamically Driven Winds
				Foehn Winds—
				Santa Ana winds—
				Sundowner winds—
				Washoe zephyr—
				Terrain channeling effects—
				Pressure-driven channeling—
			Thermally Driven Winds
				Slope winds—
				Upslope winds—
				Fire behavior on sloped terrain—
				Chimney effects—
				Explosive fire behavior—
				Modeling of fire behavior on slopes—
				Downslope winds—
				Valley winds—
				Inversion destruction in valleys—
				Cross-valley winds—
				Turbulence in mountainous regions—
		Wind Modeling Tools: WindNinja
		Summary
		Future Needs
		Literature Cited
	Chapter 3: Critical Fire Weather Patterns
		Introduction
		Weather Elements That Promote Extreme Fire Behavior
		Critical Fire Weather Patterns
		Regional Critical Fire Weather Patterns
			Northern Plains, Great Lakes, and the Northeastern United States
				Pacific High—
				Northwest Canadian High—
				Hudson Bay High—
			Southeastern United States
				Strong westerly flow–
				Northwesterly flow—
				Blocking ridge aloft—
			Southwestern United States
				Breakdown of Upper Ridge—
				Early Stage Monsoon—
				Lee surface trough/dryline—
			Rocky Mountain and Intermountain Regions
				Upper ridge-Surface thermal trough—
				Early stage monsoon—
				Foehn wind/Chinook wind—
			Pacific Northwest Region
				Foehn wind/east wind—
			California Region
				Foehn winds/north and mono winds—
				Foehn winds/Santa Ana and sundowner winds—
				Subtropical high aloft—
			Alaska
				Breakdown of the upper ridge with southwest flow—
		Models and Predictive Tools
			The National Wildland Significant Fire Potential Outlook
			GACC 7-Day Significant Fire Potential
			Fuel and Fire Behavior Advisories
			Other GACC Products and Services
			Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings
			Spot Weather Forecasts/Digital Web Services
		Summary/Knowledge Gaps
		References
	Chapter 4: Fire Interactions and Mass Fires
		Introduction
		Background: Time-Dependent Fire Behaviors
			Fire Acceleration
			Length of Fire Front
			Flame Tilt
			Spread Thresholds
		Conditions Where Fire Interactions Occur
		Specific Effects of Fire Interaction
			Burning Rate
			Flame Dimensions
			Flame Temperatures and Pollutants
			Indraft Velocity
			Pulsation
			Convection Column
			Summary of Interaction Effects
		Needs for Further Research and Application
		Literature Cited
	Chapter 5: Column/Plume Dynamics
		Introduction
		Plume-Dominated and Wind-Driven Fires
		Adverse Wind Profiles and Low-Level Jets
		Stability and Instability
		Downbursts and Plume Collapse
		Summary
		Literature Cited
	Chapter 6: Spot Fires
		Introduction
		The Spotting Process
		Management Tools
		Knowledge Gaps
		Literature Cited
	Chapter 7: Vortices and Wildland Fire
		Introduction
			Vorticity Basics
		Fire Whirls
			Fire Whirl Physics
			Vorticity Sources
			Vortex Stretching
			Increased Combustion Rates
			Scaling Fire Whirls
		Fire Whirls in the Real World: Common Features
			Whirl Shedding on the Lee Side of a Plume
			L-Shaped Heat Source in Crossflow
			Vorticity Associated With Cold Fronts
			Multiple Interacting Plumes
			Lee Side of a Hill/Mountain
		Horizontal Vortices
			Transverse Vortices
			Longitudinal Vortices
				Single longitudinal vortex—
				Counter-rotating, longitudinal vortex pair—
			Tree Crown Streets
		Summary
		Knowledge Gaps
		Literature Cited
	Chapter 8: Crown Fire Dynamics in Conifer Forests
		Introduction
		Types of Crown Fires
		Box 1: Crown Fire Classification
			Passive Crown Fire
			Active Crown Fire
			Independent Crown Fire
		Crown Fire Initiation
		Box 2: Canopy Fuel Characteristics in Van Wagner's (1977a) Crown Fire Invitation and Propagation Models
			Canopy Base Height
			Canopy Bulk Density
			Foliar Moisture Content
		Crown Fire Propagation
		Crown Fire Rate of Spread
		Crown Fire Intensity and Flame Zone Characteristics
		Crown Fire Area and Perimeter Growth
		Crown Fire Spotting Activity
		Models, Systems, and Other Decision Aids for Predicting Crown Fire Behavior
			Rothermel Guide to Predicting Size and Behavior of Crown Fires
			U.S. Fire Modeling Systems
			Canadian Forest Fire Behavior Prediction System
			Other Empirically Based Approaches
			Physically Based Models
			Example of a Practical Application of LinkingEmpirical and Physically Based Models
		Implications for Fire and Fuel Management
		Box 3:Useful Links to FurtherInformation
		Box 4:Crown Fire Dynamics in Conifer Forests—A Summary of the Salient Points
			Crown Fire Initiation
			Crown Fire Propagation
			Crown Fire Rate of Spread
			Crown Fire Intensity and Flame Zone Characteristics
			Crown Fire Area and Perimeter Growth
			Crown Fire Spotting Activity
			Models, Systems, and Other Decision Aids for Predicting Crown Fire Behavior
			Implications for Fire and Fuel Management
		Future Outlook
		Literature Cited
	Acknowledgments
	Unit Conversion Factors
	Common and Scientific Names
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

A SUMMARY OF
KNOWLEDGE FROM THE

United States
Department of
Agriculture

Forest Service

Pacific Northwest
Research Station

General Technical
Report
PNW-GTR-854

November 2011

Synthesis of Knowledge of
Extreme Fire Behavior:
Volume I for Fire Managers
Paul A. Werth, Brian E. Potter, Craig B. Clements, Mark A. Finney,
Scott L. Goodrick, Martin E. Alexander, Miguel G. Cruz, Jason A.
Forthofer, and Sara S. McAllister

Page 2

The Forest Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is dedicated to the principle of
multiple use management of the Nation’s forest resources for sustained yields of wood,
water, forage, wildlife, and recreation. Through forestry research, cooperation with the
States and private forest owners, and management of the national forests and national
grasslands, it strives—as directed by Congress—to provide increasingly greater service
to a growing Nation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and
activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, and where applicable, sex,
marital status, familial status, parental status, religion, sexual orientation, genetic information,
political beliefs, reprisal, or because all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any
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disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information (Braille,
large print, audiotape, etc.) should contact USDA’s TARGET Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice
and TDD). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights,
Room 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272
(voice) or (202) 720-6382 (TDD). USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Authors
Paul A. Werth

Brian E.
Potter

Craig
B. Clements

Mark A. Finney Jason A. Forthofer
Sara S. McAllister

Scott L. Goodrick

Martin E. Alexander

Miguel
G. Cruz

Cover Photos

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Synthesis of Knowledge of Extreme Fire Behavior: Volume I for Fire Managers

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