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Toward a Better Understanding of Wildfire Behavior in the Wildland-Urban Interface: A Case Study of the 2021 Marshall Fire
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  • Timothy W Juliano,
  • Neil Lareau,
  • Maria Frediani,
  • Kasra Shamsaei,
  • Masih Eghdami,
  • Karen A Kosiba,
  • Joshua Wurman,
  • Amy DeCastro,
  • Branko Kosović,
  • Hamed Ebrahimian
Timothy W Juliano
National Center for Atmospheric Research

Corresponding Author:tjuliano@ucar.edu

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Neil Lareau
University of Nevada, Reno
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Maria Frediani
NCAR
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Kasra Shamsaei
University of Nevada, Reno
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Masih Eghdami
National Center for Atmospheric Research
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Karen A Kosiba
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Joshua Wurman
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
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Amy DeCastro
Unknown
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Branko Kosović
National Center for Atmospheric Research
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Hamed Ebrahimian
University of Nevada, Reno
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Abstract

On 30 December 2021, the Marshall Fire devastated the Boulder, Colorado region. The fire initiated in fine fuels in open space just southeast of Boulder and spread rapidly due to the strong, downslope winds that penetrated into the Boulder Foothills. Despite the increasing occurrence of wildland-urban interface (WUI) disasters, many questions remain about how fires progress through vegetation and the built environment. To help answer these questions for the Marshall Fire, we use a coupled fire-atmosphere model and Doppler on Wheels (DOW) observations to study the fire’s progression as well as examine the physical drivers of its spread. Evaluation of the model using the DOW suggests that the model is able to capture general characteristics of the flow field; however, it does not produce as robust of a hydraulic jump as the one observed. Our results highlight limitations of the model that should be addressed for successful WUI simulations.