Local meteorologist headed to Australia for wildfire support

Local meteorologist headed to Australia for wildfire support
Fires lit to to help control a larger fire burn near Burrill Lake, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020. Milder temperatures Sunday brought hope of a respite from wildfires that have ravaged three Australian states, destroying almost 2,000 homes. (Rick Rycroft/AP)

WILMINGTON — A meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wilmington will be heading to Australia next month for at least six-weeks for wildfire support.

John Franks, an incident meteorologist, will go to Australia to assist in weather forecasting to help firefighters battle the wildfires.

>> Australia turns from defense to offense in wildfire battle

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Franks is scheduled to deploy the week of February 9, and is scheduled to return late March.

Franks regularly deploys to assist with wildfires and has been to California and Idaho, said NWS meteorologist Kristen Cassidy.

A meteorologist becomes an incident meteorologist through earning a certification, Cassidy said.

They are stationed with a command team near the fires and interpret the weather to help predict the fire’s behavior, according to the NWS. This information is then used in how fighting the fire is approached.

“Wildfires are very dependent, in terms of their behavior, on weather conditions ... wind speed, wind direction,” Cassidy said.