UA weather model a tool to protect firefighters - Tucson News Now

UA weather model a tool to protect firefighters

The model showed that the winds suddenly changed direction on June 30. The model showed that the winds suddenly changed direction on June 30.
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A sophisticated weather model, the only one of its kind in the southwest, is answering some questions on how the 19 firefighters were trapped in the Yarnell Hill Fire.

It's also another tool that can be used to keep firefighters out of danger.

The weather equipment on top of the Atmospheric Sciences building at the University of Arizona collects data that feeds into a one-of-a-kind weather model that gives a much clearer look at weather activity.

Meteorologist Mike Leuthold says this model predicted the deadly weather event that happened right before 19 Prescott firefighters lost their lives.

It did it hours faster than models typically used by the National Weather Service.

"Our model can see small scale features in the atmosphere and mountains," Leuthold said.  "We're like looking through binoculars."

The sooner you spot a storm, the sooner you know what it will do.

Leuthold backtracked the model to June 30, the day the firefighters were killed.

The model showed that the winds suddenly changed direction.

Leuthold said it's unclear if weather monitors working on the Yarnell Hill Fire used this data.

The weather model is available for anyone to use on the Atmospheric Sciences website: http://bit.ly/12pkIqO

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