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U of U professor predicts fire and smoke behavior as Western states face increasing threat

Posted at 6:07 PM, Aug 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-21 20:59:40-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Derek Mallia, a research assistant professor of atmospheric science at the University of Utah, wants to help fire crews predict the behavior of the wildfires so prevalent in the American West.

Mallia has created a computer model he says is almost ready to deploy on the ground.

"It's a model that can forecast fire growth, and it can also forecast smoke and where that smoke is going to go," said Mallia.

That second aspect of the model, predicting smoke, would be helpful to residents who live hundreds of miles from major fires, like Utahns who woke up to extra smoky skies on Friday.

In the above video, you'll see Mallia demonstrate what his model shows.