A Spokane meteorologist is on his way to help Australian firefighting efforts

Spokane meteorologist Todd Carter

SPOKANE, Wash. — A Spokane meteorologist is on his way to Australia to lend his expertise on the bush fires that have devastated 3,000 homes and killed more than 30 people.

Fire weather forecasting is nothing new to Todd Carter, who’s a meteorologist at the National Weather Service.

On Saturday, he’ll be trading snow for summer, using weather data to give firefighters the upper hand.

The fires have gotten so bad, the smoke is visible from space. So far, roughly 18 million acres have burned- an area so large, it could cover most of Eastern and Central Washington.

“One of the most extreme fire seasons in history,” said Carter. “During extreme fire seasons, one important component is knowing what the weather is going to do.”

Carter will join a team of meteorologists forecasting fire weather.

“They just recently had a low pressure system go through the region causing strong winds and fire spread,” said Carter.

It’s something he does every summer during the Inland Northwest’s fire season. Strong winds, high temperatures and low relative humidity can help fires spread fast and conditions are constantly changing.

Carter will board a plane Saturday and spend the next 40 days Down Under.

Nine other meteorologists from the US are being sent down as well. Right now, Australia is only halfway through its wildfire season.

It’s summer there now and temperatures usually peak between January and February.