U.S. Joint Fire Science Program


Date of this Version


Document Type



Fire Science Brief, Issue 101, April 2010


US government work.


Fire behavior model accuracy has suffered from a lack of specific information about how winds shift in direction and speed in mountainous terrain at fine scales. Before this project, fire managers lacked a tool that could provide realtime status of changing wind conditions at the scale of a specific ridge or drainage. This project resulted in two wind simulation tools that focus on this critical need: WindWizard and WindNinja. WindWizard, based on commercial computational fluid dynamics software, comes with a price tag and is computationally slower due to the complexity of the calculations it performs. WindNinja was developed as WindWizard’s lighter, faster, free, and more field-friendly cousin. Fire managers have found that these tools provide the reliable, timely, detailed information needed for informed fire management decisions, as well as valuable information about conditions leading to firefighter entrapments.