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Tucson National Weather Service meteorologists help in fight against wildfires

Tucson National Weather Service
Posted at 6:45 AM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 09:45:35-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — During the hot and dry days of Summer in Arizona, a fire can spark in a matter of seconds.

"I could get a phone call right now saying that I'm needed on a fire somewhere in the country," said Tucson National Weather Service Senior Meteorologist, Carl Cerniglia.

Cerniglia has to be ready to go at all times. He works as an incident meteorologist with Tucson's branch of the National Weather Service. When a fire sparks, it's his job to keep an eye on the forecast.

"It's the most impactful thing on the fire. Humidity level and wind are the main driving factors of where fire will go, how fast it will burn and the character of the fire," said Cerniglia.

The National Weather Service's incident meteorologists, or "IMETs" watch the weather from the front lines. The team from Tucson delivered forecasts to first responders on the Mescal and Pinnacle fires this year and the Bighorn fire last year. While IMETs are typically sent to fires around Arizona, they can also respond to incidents all across the country.

"This time of year, when we're transitioning from fire season to monsoon season in the Southwest, is the most dangerous time. We've had many fatality fires related to that," said Cerniglia.

IMETs will stay on the site of the wildfire for up to two weeks, work 16 days and, ultimately, help save lives.

"It's a really good learning experience. It's one where you feel really fulfilled with the information and expertise, you're able to give," said Cerniglia.