the Fire Weather Main Page on the National Weather Service Columbia
(NWS CAE) web site, click on Internet Request Spot Form.
The Columbia, South Carolina SPOT FORECASTS page will appear. This page
auto-updates every minute, so as new spot forecasts are requested or
their status changes, you immediately see the changes on the page! We
call this the monitoring page.
Some of the
features on this page include...
A) The current
date with arrow keys allowing you to step back or forward to a particular
date. A calendar is also available, which will allow you to see how many
spot forecasts were issued on a certain date. You can also move ahead
or back on the calendar as well as clicking on a particular date to view
spot information from that day.
B) A map
of the NWS CAE fire weather area of responsibility. A small box will appear
indicating the location of the spot request. It is colored coded to indicate
if the spot forecast is pending (green), which means you have submitted a spot
request and the NWS is working on the forecast. A purple box indicates
the NWS has sent you a question with respect to the spot forecast.
(You will need to either click on the purple box or click
on QUESTION in the Status Box below the map, then on the bottom
of the next page, yo can click on Change Request to make the
necessary changes and answer the question from the NWS. When you submit the spot again,
the monitor page will show the word ANSWERED in the Status Box and the purple square
on the map will go back to green. A red box on the map means the spot forecast is complete
and you can either click on the red box or in the Name/Ignition Time/Status Box to see the
C) A link
at the top of the page exists to take you back to the Columbia Fire
Weather Internet Page.
D) A user will
click on SUBMIT A NEW SPOT REQUEST to prepare their information
for the online spot forecast request.
Once SUBMIT A NEW SPOT REQUEST has been selected, note that some of the spot elements are in red, indicating these fields are required.
Detailed information on this page includes...
1 - Project
Name: typically fires in the Western US have names with respect to
the river drainage basin they are in. If your fire has a name, go ahead
and put it in. Otherwise, lets say the fire is 2 miles west of Aiken,
South Carolina, go ahead and enter in 2W of Aiken, SC. Or if the fire is on a
mountain, you could put in the name of the mountain. Essentially put in
something that you will be able to reference on the Spot Request Page
because this is a required field.
the type of project (Wildfire, WFU (wildland fire uncontrolled), HAZMAT,
Prescribed Fire, or SAR (search and rescue)). If it is a prescribed burn,
please enter in the Ignition Time (using the 24 hour clock) and Date.
The form defaults to an ignition time about ½ hour into the future.
If it is a wildfire or other selection besides Prescribed Fire, you do
not have to worry about the default ignition time.
2 - Requesting
Agency: The Requesting Agency, Requesting Official, and phone number
are required. Fax number and contact person are optional, but we consider
those very important if we have any questions or if there is a breakdown
in dissemination capabilities. You will only need to enter the information
in this section the first time you request a spot forecast. After that,
it will be filled in with the same information as your last request. Please
note that no other people other than the user and the NWS will see this
3 - Reason
For Spot Request Form: You must choose between wildfire and non-wildfire
in this section. If selecting non-wildfire, select one of the three reasons
to justify the need for a spot. For more details on the NWS Spot Forecast
Policy, you can use the link provided to access the appropriate information
from the NWS Fire Weather Directive.
4 - Location:
You have a couple of options on this one, but they are important with
respect to having the location appear on the map. Proper location data
will give us detailed map information for the fire and the terrain in
* Enter the
Latitude and Longitude of the fire (you can either specify degrees like
45.1486 or degrees/minutes/seconds like 45 13 34). For supplemental information
you can reference the 7.5' USGS Quadmap, but you still need to provide
5 - Elevation:
The top and bottom elevations of the fire are required. You can just enter
the numbers and do not need to mention the word feet. If the burn or fire
is on flat ground, you would need to enter a value in only one of the
is optional and once again references the river drainage basin the fire
is in. If you know it, you can enter it. Note that you will
be flagged when submitting the request that if possible, we would like
the drainage information. If you do not know it, go ahead and just submit
the request anyway.
6 - Aspect:
This field is required and important to know which side of a mountain
the fire may be on. Use direction references such as N, NE, E, SE, S,
SW, W, NW. If the fire or burn is in flat terrain, you can type in the
7 - Size:
Enter the acreage if known, but it is an optional field.
8 - Fuel:
Please indicate the type of fuel, either using fuel model numbers, or
a description of the fuel such as grass, ponderosa pine, etc. Also, if
you can indicate the amount of fuel sheltering (Full, Partial, Unsheltered),
it helps us tremendously in providing accurate wind forecasts.
9 - Observations:
Although it is considered optional in the program, it is required to get
a spot forecast from the NWS. Please enter in the information with respect
to the observation. For each observation we need to know where it is in
relation to the burn, the elevation in feet, and the time (preferably
using a 24 hour clock). The wind (in mph) can be specified as N12 Gust
25 or something comparable. The temperature and wetbulb values (in degrees
F) should be entered and the RH (in percent) and Dewpoint (in degrees
F) can also be entered if known, otherwise they will automatically be
calculated for you. Finally, any remarks about clouds, weather, or other
imprtant information should be entered in the Sky/Weather box.
10 - Primary
Forecast Elements: Not all spot forecasts are created equal, so we
are asking you to tell us what are the forecast elements you need, or
are particularly important. There are six parameters listed for you. Select
which ones you want a forecast for, and for the time period(s) you would
like as well (available times are Today, Tonight, and Tomorrow).
11 - Remarks:
If a meteorological parameter is not listed and you would like to have
Haines Index for example, enter that information in the Remarks section.
You can also enter in information with respect to when you might want
the forecast or any other information/input you can give to us with respect
to the spot forecast request.
12 - Action:
You now have three options. You can Submit Request, Cancel Request,
or Clear Form. When you hit Submit Request, various checks
are performed on the data you have entered. Some problems make it impossible
for your request to be accepted such as not providing any of the required
elements listed in red, while others will produce warnings and messages
for your information. If an error is found, you will be taken to a page
that describes the errors or minor problems. You can click on Go Back
and Fix and have the opportunity to make the necessary changes. You
can click on Submit Request anyway, but more than likely we will
probably be sending back a question or calling. You do have one more option
and that is to Cancel Request.
* After you
have submitted a spot forecast request, an individualized spot forecast
web page becomes available for that burn. The page automatically updates
every minute so that as new information becomes available for the burn,
you see it immediately. Detailed maps of the area around the burn are
generated and displayed when they become available.
* Once the
forecast is COMPLETED and made available to you, the page will
not update anymore. Thus if we have to update the forecast, we would be
calling you to inform you of the upcoming change, since the page no longer
updates or has a way to inform you that a change has been sent. When you
go back into the forecast, the only way you might pick up on the changed
forecast is at the top of the page it shows the time that the spot was
requested and the time it was issued. The issue time will have changed. Keep in mind that "sensitive" information
like your name, phone number, and the exact location of the burn are NOT
visible to others - only to you and the NWS.
* If we have
questions about your request, we may send you back a question. If this
happens, the Status Box will show the word QUESTION and the box
on the map will turn purple. Click on this and you will see a big red
box in the forecast page with our question. Usually there is some problem
with the request that you can probably fix (use the CHANGE REQUEST link to do this, make your changes if necessary, then submit the request
once again. The purple box will return to green and the word QUESTION will change back to PENDING). Remember, you can always call us.
* When your
forecast is complete, it will show up in the spot forecast web page (clicking
on the red box in the map or COMPLETED in the Status Box can access
the spot). On the forecast page a Feedback box will appear where you can
provide us on information with respect to how the forecast worked out,
perhaps later in the day or several days down the road. This feedback
helps us to improve. Simply type in your feedback into the box and click
on Send Feedback.
* At the
bottom of the forecast page are links for actions that you can take. For
example, you can go "Back to Spot List" to return to
the monitor page. If you are on the same computer where you made the original
request, you can click on "Change Request" to change
the details of your request. This is what you would do if we send you
a question and you need to change some information. If you need to delete
a request, simply click on "Delete Request".
* You can
also click on "Copy Info to New Spot Request". This is
helpful for burns that last over several days. Rather than having to re-enter
the data in the form to get a new forecast, you can view the previous
spot request and then copy all the location parameters to a new request
using this link. This will save you some time when filling out the request
something will go wrong at some point, and you might not be able to request
or receive spot requests via the web page. In such cases, you can call
in or fax us the spot forecast.