A newer generation of models that interactively couple the atmosphere with fire behavior have shown an increased potential to understand and predict complex, rapidly changing fire behavior. This is possible if they capture intricate, time-varying microscale airflows in mountainous terrain and fire-atmosphere feedbacks. However, this benefit is counterbalanced by additional limitations and requirements, many arising from the atmospheric model upon which they are built. The degree to which their potential is realized depends on how coupled models are built, configured, and applied. Because these are freely available to users with widely ranging backgrounds, I present some limitations and requirements that must be understood and addressed to achieve meaningful fire behavior simulation results. These include how numerical weather prediction models are formulated for specific scales, their solution methods and numerical approximations, optimal model configurations for common scenarios, and how these factors impact reproduction of fire events and phenomena. I discuss methods used to adjust inadequate outcomes and advise on critical interpretation of fire modeling results, such as where errors from model limitations may be misinterpreted as natural unpredictability. I discuss impacts on other weather model-based applications that affect understanding of fire behavior and effects.
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