Wind is one of the most important environmental factors affecting wildland fire behavior. Complex terrain in fire-prone landscapes induces local changes in the near-surface wind that are not predicted well by either operational weather models or expert judgment. WindNinja was developed to help fire managers predict these winds.


WindNinja is a computer program that computes spatially-varying wind fields for wildland fire and other applications requiring high-resolution wind predictions in complex terrain. It was developed to be used by emergency responders within their typical operational constraints of fast simulation times (seconds), low CPU requirements (single processor laptops), and low technical expertise.

See Also: Who Uses WindNinja?

Running WindNinja

WindNinja can be initialized in three ways.

  1. User-specified average wind speed and direction. ("Domain Average Initialization")
  2. Data from one or more weather stations. ("Point Initialization")
  3. Coarse-scale weather models from NOAA. ("Weather Model Initialization")

WindNinja also requires elevation data (in the form of a digital elevation model) and specification of the dominant vegetation type. WindNinja can obtain this data from internet sources.

See Also: How Does WindNinja Work? and WindNinja Tutorials


WindNinja has several unique features.

  1. Diurnal slope flow parameterization
  2. Non-neutral atmospheric stability parameterization
  3. Ability to download digital elevation model data from US SRTM, world SRTM, and GMTED sources
  4. Ability to download Landscape files for gridded vegetation
  5. Ability to download operational weather model data from NOMADS and UCAR
  6. Ability to download weather station data from MesoWest/SynopticLabs


WindNinja can produce the following outputs:

  1. Google Earth (.kmz)
  2. ASCII grids of wind speed and direction for FARSITE and FlamMap
  3. GIS shapefile for displaying wind vectors in GIS programs
  4. GeoPDFs for viewing, for example, in Avenza PDF Maps
  5. VTK output, which is a standard 3-D format that can be viewed in programs such as ParaView and MeshLab


WindNinja runs on Linux and Windows (XP and higher).

Windows: Download the Windows installer here.

Linux: Get the instructions for building from source.

Hardware Requirements:

  • Minimum: 4 GB RAM, 2.0 GHz processing speed
  • Reccomended: 8 GB RAM, 2.4 GHz processing speed


WindNinja is also available as a mobile app. From the app, users can set up and run WindNinja simulations on a remote server and then download and view the results on a mobile device.

Incident Support

Need help on an incident? Let us know by sending an email to the WindNinja support team.