Services Provided by the National
Fire Weather Planning Forecast (FWF)
The Fire Weather Planning Forecast (FWF) is a zone-type product used
by natural resource management personnel primarily for input in decision-making
related to pre-suppression and other planning or resource management
activities, as well as for determining general weather trends that
might impact burning condition and thereby fire behavior of wildfires
and prescribed fires. The decisions impact firefighter safety, protection
of the public, property, and the natural resource, and resource allocation.
Product Overview and Issuance Criteria
The FWF provides a detailed prediction of elements for three specific
12-hour periods (four 12-hour periods with the afternoon forecast),
a general 3 to 7 day forecast, and an 8 to 14 day extended outlook.
The FWF is issued twice daily, once during the morning (between
3:00 and 6:30 AM), and the other during the afternoon (between 2:00
and 4:00 PM). The morning forecast, to be disseminated no later
than 8:30 AM, consists of three periods: "Today" (valid from issuance
through 6 PM local time), "Tonight" (6 PM to 6 AM), and "Tomorrow"
(6 AM to 6 PM). The afternoon version , to be disseminated no later
than 4:00 PM, consists of four periods: "Tonight" (6 PM to 6 AM),
"Tomorrow" 6 AM to 6 PM), "Tomorrow Night" (6 PM to 6 AM), and the
"Following Day" (6 AM to 6 PM).
Format/Content of the FWF
- The format of the Fire Weather Forecast is specified in National
Weather Service Directive 10-401.
- A headline is required when Red Flag Warnings and/or
Fire Weather Watches are in effect. The headline will include the
warning type, location, reason for issuance (e.g., high winds and
low humidity), and effective time period(s). The headline is also
included in the body of the FWF, in each appropriate zone grouping.
Other headlines are requested since the natural resource agencies
are also considered "all risk agencies". When significant
weather trends of locally-defined critical weather elements are forecast
or observed during non-watch/warning periods, they will be identified
in the headline.
- The discussion should be a brief, clear, non-technical description
of the weather patterns that influence the weather in the forecast
Cloud Cover ("CLOUD COVER")
- This is and indication of the expected sky condition. "Clear"
or "Sunny" descriptors are designated when the forecast cloud cover
is < 10%; "Mostly Clear" or "Mostly Sunny" are used when cloud cover
is forecast to be >= 10% and < 30%; "Partly Cloudy" or "Partly Sunny"
are used when cloud cover is forecast to be >= 30% and < 60%; "Mostly
Cloudy" is used when cloud cover is >= 60% and < 80%; "Cloudy" is
used when cloud cover is forecast to be >= 80%.
Precipitation Type ("PRECIP TYPE")
- This refers to the predominant precipitation type during the forecast
period, with an exception. When both "showers" and "thunderstorms"
are included in the public forecast, "thunderstorms" will be designated
as the precipitation type in the FWF.
Chance of Precipitation ("CHANCE PRECIP")
- Refers to the probability of measurable precipitation (0.01
inches or more) during the forecast period. This will be rounded to
the nearest 10%. Note: Drizzle and snow flurries are not considered
measurable precipitation and thus will not be given a probability.
- Refers to the forecasted maximum and minimum temperature for
the zone, in degrees F, as measured at a standard 4.5 ft above the
ground level. Also included is a 24 hour trend value, noting the difference
from the previous day's maximum/minimum temperature.
Relative Humidity ("MAX/MIN RH")
- Forecasted minimum relative humidity is provided during the
daytime periods, while maximum RH is included at night. Also, as with
temperature, a 24-hour trend is provided, except at WFO RNK.
Note: The lowest average humidity typically occurs during the warmest
part of the day. However, if it is expected to occur at a different
time of the day, this will be noted in the "Remarks" portion of
Surface Winds ("WND20FT2MIN/EARLY and WND20FT2MIN/LATE")
- Surface wind speed and direction represent a two-minute average
at 20 feet above the ground or 20 ft above the vegetative cover. Wind
direction is the direction the wind blows from, to eight points of
the compass. The "EARLY" designation refers to morning hours (before
noon) during daytime periods, and also the evening hours (before midnight)
during nighttime periods. "LATE" refers to the afternoon hours during
the daytime periods, and also the pre-dawn hours (after midnight)
during the nighttime periods. Wind gusts, which are rapid fluctuations
in wind speed of usually less than 30 seconds in duration, are indicated
in the forecast if gustiness is expected. Forecasts for highest probable
gust will be preceded by "G".
Precipitation Amount ("PRECIP AMOUNT")
- Refers to the forecasted precipitation amount (in hundredths
of an inch) whenever the chance of precipitation is 20% or greater.
Precipitation Duration ("PRECIP DURATION")
- Refers to the duration of the measurable precipitation (in
hours) when the probability of measurable precipitation is greater
than or equal to 20%. A precipitation duration forecast of "1" is
used for "1 hour or less" duration.
Precipitation Begin/End ("PRECIP BEGIN/END")
- Refers to the time measurable precipitation begins or ends.
Only used by WFO's GSP, MRX and RNK.
Mixing Height ("MIXING HGT")
- Mixing height is defined as the atmospheric limit above which
vigorous vertical mixing does not take place. Mixing height forecasts
are given in feet above the ground ("FT-AGL"), except at WFO MRX, where mixing heights are given in feet above mean sea level ("FT-MSL"), but will be given in AGL in a spot forecast upon customer
Transport Wind ("TRANSPORT WND")
- Defined as the average wind direction and speed from the surface
to the top of the mixed layer. Direction of the transport wind (where
the wind is blowing from) and speed will be given. The speed will
be in MPH.
Ventilation Rate ("VENT RATE")
- Refers to a multiplication of the mixing height and transport
wind., With units in ft MPH. Ventilation rates, forecasted during
the daytime, are used to calculate the Burn Category for each day.
The ventilation rate gives the potential for the atmosphere to to
disperse smoke. Refer to Appendix 1 for further details regarding
the correlation of the Ventilation Rate and Burn Category.
Note: Not included by WFO MRX.
Dispersion ("DISPERSION" or "ADI" )
- Refers to the forecasted smoke dispersion category at night,
based on the surface wind speed. The dispersion category gives a
general indication of the state of the atmosphere with respect to
its ability to disperse smoke. The dispersion forecast (nighttime)
is analogous to the daytime Ventilation Rate, though only a forecast
during the evening hours is provided as a large majority of controlled/prescribed
fire operations are completed before midnight. A spot forecast is
recommended for critical operations that might involve smoke drift
towards a populated area. Refer to Appendix 2 for further details
on Dispersion categories.
Note: WFO's GSP and ILM do not produce surface wind based dispersion forecasts due
to differences in categories between NC and SC.
WFO's AKQ, GSP, ILM, MHX, and MRX produce a Lavdas atmospheric dispersion index (ADI) forecast computed from the 20-foot wind speed, mixing height, transport wind, and cloud cover. The value reported is the average maximum value for the zone grouping, which filters out extremes. Refer to the Appendix for further details of the GSP and MRX Lavdas dispersion index (ADI). All WFO's except produce early and late period values of ADI both night and day, while WFO MRX produces one ADI value during the day.
Low Visibility Occurrence Risk Index ("LVORI")
- An index derived from the Lavdas ADI and the relative humidity,
that gages the probability of visibility restrictions in fog or smoke.
The index is based on a study of traffic accidents in Florida. The value reported is the maximumm value for the zone grouping, in order to capture the highest values.
Refer to Appendix 2 for further details on LVORI categories.
Note: Included at WFO's AKQ, GSP, ILM, and MHX, early and late in each period, both night and day.
Minimum Surface Visibility and Obstruction ("MIN VSBY")
- The minimum surface visibility, and if restricted below 7 miles, the obstruciton causing the restriction. The value reported is the minimum value for the zone grouping, in order to capture the lowest values. Visibility values of 7 to 10 miles are considered unrestricted.
Note: Included at WFO GSP, early and late in the first two periods, both night and day.
Lightning Activity Level ("LAL")
- A numerical value, which is used to describe the expected lightning
activity for that day. Refer to Appendix 3 for further details on
Haines Index ("HAINES INDEX")
- The index infers the stability of the atmosphere. In the North
Carolina Coastal Plain and Piedmont, "low elevation" is assumed
for the calculation of the Haines Index. It utilizes the atmospheric
temperature at 950 mb and 850 Mb as well as taking into account
the the moisture levels (dew point depression) at 850 Mb. In the
North Carolina mountains, the "mid level" Haines Index is calculated
using the temperatures at 850 Mb and 700 Mb, and the dew point depression
at 850 Mb.
Haines Index values range from 2 through 6.
On western fires Haines Index values of 5 or 6 serve as an alert
that fires or prescribed burns can experience control challenges.
Local regional studies in North Carolina have shown that a Haines
Index of 4 represents the initiating threshold whereby the atmosphere
can support large fire growth. In the absence of strong winds, fire
growth will be primarily "plume dominated", with crowning and spotting
on all sides. As wind speeds increase, coupled with a starting Haines
Index of 4 or greater, there is an increased threat for large wind-driven
3 through 7 Day Forecast
- The outlook period is an extended forecast for the zone, or
the entire forecast area, provided in narrative form (non-digital,
non-tabular), and appended either at the bottom of each zone grouping
(for just that zone), or at the end of all the zone groupings (for
the entire area).
- Refers to the time and/or temperature at which the morning inversion
will burnoff, or the time the inversion will setup in the evening.
If the inversion is not surface based (yet still at low levels,
e.g. below 1000 feet), meteorological factors other than nighttime
radiational cooling may be taking place and as such, inversion information
may not be given ("Inversion" remains in the forecast through the
day, which would be reflected by a low mixing height). Conversely,
there will be situations when a low level inversion does not develop
at night; during these situations when a "NO INV" or "NONE" will
be noted. Note: WFO's GSP and ILM will include burnoff time and
temperature in the morning, as well as setup time in the evening.
WFO MHX includes burnoff temperature only. Other inversion notation
includes CONT (for continued inversion), and MIXED/HHMM (when and
inversion mixes out at local time HH:MM.
Note: WFO's MRX and RNK do not produce an inversion forecast.
Wind Profile Analysis
- It is recognized that the profile of wind speed with altitude
on active fire days is an important factor in fire behavior. Certain
profiles of wind speed marked by decreasing speed above a maximum
or a jet within 1500 ft of the surface can cause fires to behave
erratically when combined with a rapid decrease in air temperature
with altitude on the order of 5.5 degrees F per 1000 ft. Appendix
4 describes these types of profiles (Adverse Wind Profiles) that
contribute toward adverse fire behavior.
The WPA is included in the remarks section of zone groupings that include
North Carolina non-mountain counties from March through May.
At the request of one or more partner agencies, the WPA can be included at other times of the year during periods of high fire danger.
Note: WFO's MRX and RNK do not produce a wind profile analysis.
Update Criteria for the Fire Weather Planning Forecast
The Fire Weather Forecaster will maintain a weather watch to ensure
that the forecast remains accurate. When unexpected changes occur
or are forecast to occur which significantly deviate form the previous
forecast, the forecast will be updated. The decision to update, to
an extent, is at forecaster discretion. The update criteria for various
elements are listed in the Appendix. It is a shared responsibility
for the WFO's and the natural resource agencies to monitor the need
to update a forecast. Respective agency personnel will also provide
feedback as to the updating of an FWF, NFDRS Point, or Spot Forecast.
Fire Weather Point Forecast Matrix (PFW)
The Fire Weather Point Forecast Matrix (PFW) is a tabular-type product used
by natural resource management personnel for decision support
related to pre-suppression and other planning or resource management
activities at or near a specific point.
These points are predetermined by the customers, and are semi-permanent in nature, meaning they can be changed from time to time, but not on a daily basis.
Product Overview and Issuance Criteria
The PWF provides a detailed prediction of elements for three days out at 3-hour intervals, including smoke management parameters through day 2, and
a more general 3 to 7 day forecast without smoke management parameters. The winds given in this forecast are not terrain corrected winds.
The PWF is issued twice daily, once during the morning (between
3:00 and 6:30 AM), and the other during the afternoon (between 2:00
and 4:00 PM). For an example and information on decoding the product click on PFW Guide.
Site Specific Wildland Fire Forecasts (Spot Forecasts)
Spot forecasts are special, non-routine forecasts prepared upon request
of any federal agency, or state agency when there is some aspect of
federal resources involved and/or interagency protection agreements
currently exist, that needs site specific weather forecasts for: 1)
controlling the spread of wildfire; 2) planning and managing prescribed
fires; or 3) other specialized forest management activities. In the
event of an emergency which threatens life and/or property, spot forecasts
can also be provided to any federal, state, or local agency.
Spot forecasts are highly detailed forecasts for a specific location
within the forecast area. The format of the spot forecast is specified
in National Weather Service Directive 10-401. The forecasts will be
headlined for a Red Flag Warning or Fire Weather
Watch. The forecasts will begin with a discussion, and may contain
any or all of the following weather elements: sky conditions; maximum
and minimum temperatures, minimum and maximum relative humidity values,
wind speed and direction; probability of precipitation; precipitation
type, duration and amount; mixing heights; transport wind; inversion
height; inversion onset and burnoff times or temperatures; ventilation
and smoke management levels; wind profiles; stability indices (IE.,
Haines Index), and lightning activity levels (LAL). Since these are
site specific and can be initiated because of critical circumstances,
tailored products can be requested (e.g. temperature, relative humidity,
and wind speed forecasts on a two hour incremental time period).
Procedures for Requesting a Spot Forecast
Spot forecasts will be prepared when requested by a user agency.
Federal, state and local agencies may request spot forecasts in
support of wildfire suppression or other emergencies where lives
and/or property may be threatened. Due to the detailed and specific
nature of this forecast product, it is imperative that the user
provide the forecaster with necessary and sufficient information
so that a reliable forecast can be prepared.
Requests for spot forecasts should be made using the web based
spot forecast request form. This form, along with instructions on
how to use it, are available on the fire weather web pages of the
local NWS sites, which can be accessed at www.erh.noaa.gov.
The web based spot forecast request form should be filled out as
completely as possible by the user agency prior to submitting the
request. In times when internet access is hindered or not possible,
spot forecasts may be requested and disseminated via fax or phone.
If faxing a request, users should use the Fire Weather Special Forecast
Request Form, WS Form D-1. Section I of WS Form D-1
should be filled out as completely as possible by the user agency
prior to submitting the request by the fax to the forecast office.
If the request is made by phone, all information in Section I should
be provided to the forecast office.
While there is no dedicated fire weather forecaster, the forecast
office will give a high priority to spot forecasts in the absence
of weather phenomena in the CWFA that pose a threat to life and
property. To ensure that the request for a spot forecast is handled
properly and appropriately, users should adhere to the following
1) Allow adequate time for the forecaster to prepare the forecast.
This will normally be between 20 and 30 minutes. On particularly
busy fire weather days, spot forecasts will be handled on a first-come,
first-serve basis, with wildfires or other life threatening events
taking the highest priority.
2) Provide as much on-site or near-site weather information as
possible. At a minimum, the user must provide at least one observation
within an hour of the request. This observation must contain the
following: location of the observation; elevation at the observation
site; time of the observation; wind direction, speed, and level
(eye or 20 foot); dry and wet bulb temperatures (or dry bulb temperature and relative humidity); any remarks about
the state of the weather, particularly anything that may affect
fire behavior. If possible, include some observations from the previous
day that might give the forecaster an indication of daily trends.
3) As much as possible, specify the time period for which the forecast
4) As much as possible, specify the weather elements of most importance
for which a forecast is needed, and/or critical values of these
5) Provide a contact point name and phone number where the forecaster
can call back, if necessary. (Also include a fax number for returning
completed forecasts if the web based spot forecast form is not used).
6) In order to receive prompt attention for a fax request, please
phone the office to let the forecaster know the request is on the
7) Natural resource agency personnel should contact the appropriate
NWS forecast office for a spot update if the forecast conditions
appear unrepresentative of the actual weather conditions. Whenever
possible, users should provide feedback, positive or negative, to
the NWS forecast office concerning the performance of the spot forecast
during or shortly after an event. This will assist forecasters in
subsequent forecasts for the same or similar conditions.
Click for example of spot request form D1.
National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) Forecasts
NFDRS forecasts will be issued for any predetermined site from which
an NFDRS observation is received, provided the observation is received
on time, is complete, and is deemed accurate. The natural resource
agencies will determine which observation sites (normally RAWS sites)
will be NFDRS sites. Initiation of NFDRS forecasts for a new site
will be coordinated with the NWS, and the agency requesting new NFDRS
service will provide the NWS with information about the site location.
Forecasts will not be provided for sites with bad data. The NWS will
notify the owner agency when bad data is received from a RAWS station.
The NFDRS forecast will be a forecast of the next day observation
at 1300 LT. The format of the NFDRS forecast is specified in National
Weather Service Directive 10-401. The forecast will include the
a. ZONE/FCTS: Shows whether this forecast is for an NFDRS zone
or individual station. Zone average trends are forecast when enough
observation are available for the zone area. Individual site forecasts
are done where only a few observation are available.
b. NO: NFDRS Zone Number (or individual NFDRS site number).
c. YYMMDD: Year, month and day of valid forecast time.
d. 13: Valid forecast time. Always 1300 LST.
e. WX: Weather valid at 1300 LST tomorrow. Valid entries are:
0 = clear
1 = scattered clouds (1/8 to 4/8)
2 = broken clouds (5/8 to 7/8)
3 = overcast clouds (more than 7/8)
4 = fog
5 = drizzle
6 = rain
7 = snow or sleet
8 = showers (in sight or at the station)
9 = thunderstorm
(Categories 5, 6 or 7 sets NFDRS index to 0)
f. TEMP: Temperature in degrees F valid at 1300 LST (or temperature
trend + or - degrees F).
g. RH: Relative Humidity in percent valid at 1300 LST (or RH trend
+ or - percent).
h. LAL1: Lightning Activity Level 1400 LST to 2300 LST.
i. LAL2: Lightning Activity Level 2300 LST to 2300 LST.
j. WDIR: Wind Direction. Used only for point forecast (FCST) version.
Enter direction using sixteen point compass (N, NNE, NE, ENE, etc.)
valid at 1300 LST (20 ft level, 10 minute average).
k. WSPD: Wind Speed. Enter wind speed in mph (or wind speed trend
+ or - mph) valid at 1300 LST (20 ft, 10 minute average).
l. 10HR: 10 hour timelag fuel moisture in percent valid at 1300
LST (or trend + or - percent).
m. Tx: Maximum temperature from 1300 LST to 1300 LST tomorrow.
n. Tn: Minimum temperature from 1300 LST to 1300 LST tomorrow.
o. RHx: Maximum relative humidity from 1300 LST to 1300 LST tomorrow.
p. RHn: Minimum relative humidity from 1300 LST to 1300 LST tomorrow.
q. PD1: Precipitation duration in hours 1300 LST to 0500 LST.
r. PD 2: Precipitation duration in hours 0500 LST to 1300 LST.
s. WETFLAG: Y or N. Indicates whether liquid water will be on the
fuels at 1300 LST tomorrow. (Use with caution. A "Y" will
set all the NFDRS indices to zero!).
Format. The NFDRS Forecast will follow the comma delimited format
The land management agencies are responsible for taking, quality
controlling, transmitting and archiving the NFDRS observations.
Observation must be received at the NWS in a timely manner. Forecasts
will only be prepared for predetermined sites, and only from those
sites for which an observation has been received. The NWS will prepare
and transmit the NFDRS forecasts no later than 4 PM. Although the
data cutoff time for ingest into the NFDRS software is 7 PM, preliminary
calculations based on the forecast are used by the land managers
to make staffing decisions at shift briefing time (4 PM).
Fire Weather Watch and Red Flag Programs
During periods in which critical fire weather conditions are expected
or imminent, the NWS will issue statements, watches and warnings
to describe the level of urgency to the appropriate user agencies.
These issuances will be coordinated with natural resource agencies.
Definition of a Red Flag Event
A Red Flag Event occurs when critical weather conditions develop which
could lead to extensive wildfire occurrence or to extreme fire behavior.
Red Flag Events represent a threat to life and property, and may adversely
impact fire fighting personnel and resources. Critical weather conditions
include combinations of the following: strong, gusty winds; very low
relative humidity; high to extreme fire danger; significant wind shifts;
and lightning. Specific criteria can be found in the Appendix.
Red Flag Warning
A Red Flag Warning will be issued, after coordination with the appropriate
natural resource agencies, when a Red Flag Event is occurring or is
imminent. The warning will be issued for all or a portion of the forecast
area. It will be issued immediately once the forecaster and the appropriate
natural resource agency have determined that a Red Flag Event is ongoing.
Otherwise, it shall be issued for impending Red Flag conditions when
there is a high degree of confidence that conditions will develop
within 24 hours. The warning will continue until the conditions cease
to exist or fail to develop as forecast. At such time, the warning
will be canceled. The format of the Red Flag Warning is specified
in National Weather Service Directive 10-401. A sample Red Flag
Warning and cancellation are in the Appendix.
Fire Weather Watch
A Fire Weather Watch will be issued, after coordination with the appropriate
natural resource agencies, to advise of the possible development of
a Red Flag Event in the near future. It will be issued for all or
part of the forecast area. A Fire Weather Watch is issued when the
forecaster and appropriate natural resource agencies are reasonably
confident that a Red Flag Event will occur. A watch should be issued
12 to 48 hours in advance of, but not more 72 hours in advance of,
the expected onset of of the critical weather conditions. The watch
will remain in effect until either it is determined the Red Flag Event
will not develop, or that the watch should be upgraded to a warning.
If conditions are not expected to occur as forecast, the watch will
be canceled. The format of the Fire Weather Watch is specified in
National Weather Service Directive 10-401. A sample Fire Weather
Watch and cancellation are in the Appendix.
Fire Danger Statements and Blow-Up Alerts
When fire danger or fire occurrence is high and is coupled with critical
weather conditions, user agencies may request that the NWS issue a
Fire Danger Statement or Blowup Alert. These statements will be issued
in coordination with the requesting agency and will only be issued
with their approval. The NWS will use the Special Weather Statement
(SPS) for these issuances.
The primary means of communication used by the NWS is the Advanced
Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS). Products transmitted
by this means include pre-suppression forecasts, Fire Weather Watches,
Red Flag Warnings, and Fire Danger Statements. Spot Forecasts will
be disseminated only to the requesting agency by means of the Internet,
or as a backup, telefax (FAX). Therefore, anytime a request for
a spot forecast is made, the requesting agency must include a FAX
number. A voice number should also be included in case problems
are encountered with the fax transmission. Other means of communication
may be utilized upon mutual agreement with the user agencies.
Public products produced by the National Weather Service are available
over All Hazards NOAA Weather Radio (NWR). See the Appendix for a listing of
NWS transmitters serving North Carolina. (Map)
Participation in Interagency Groups
At a minimum, one NWS representative (usually the State Liaison
WFO Fire Weather Program Leader or MIC) will attend the State Interagency
meetings or working groups where fire weather or smoke management
policy is discussed as an integral part of the meeting. However,
it is strongly recommended that all NWS offices with fire weather
responsibility attend the meetings to ensure uniform representation.
Special fire weather services are those services that are uniquely
required by natural resource agencies and go beyond the normal forecast
operations of the NWS. Special services include Incident Meteorologist
(IMET) deployment, station visits, training, and other pertinent
meteorological services that are designated as non-routine.
Typically, special services require NWS personnel to be away from
the Forecast Office and, in some instances, be in overtime status.
User agencies are responsible for covering the cost of NWS overtime,
travel and per diem expenses. Reimbursement of costs for special
services will be as outlined in the Interagency
Agreement for Meteorological Services
On-site forecast service support is available for wildfires and
prescribed burns. This includes the deployment of an Incident Meteorologist
(IMET) and related service equipment such as the Advanced Technology
Meteorological Unit (ATMU), the All Hazards Meteorological Response
System (AMRS), and the Fire Remote Automated Weather Station (Fire
RAWS). The IMET, ATMU, AMRS, and the Fire RAWS are considered national
fire fighting resources, and can be requested through the North
Carolina Interagency Coordination Center.
The ATMU and AMRS are modularized and mobile systems of equipment
used by an Incident Meteorologist (IMET) for data collection and
forecast preparation. Only trained personnel will operate the ATMU
and AMRS, and this service equipment will only be dispatched to
an incident when a certified IMET is requested. The IMET is responsible
for ordering and arranging shipment for the ATMU and AMRS.
There are 25 ATMUs cached across the country, mostly in the western
states. The nearest ATMU cache to
the state of North Carolina is London, KY, where two are maintained.
AMRS workstations are also pre-positioned
across the country, most of which are collocated with existing Weather
Forecast Offices that contain certified IMETS. These AMRS workstations
are maintained by the IMETS and are typically shipped with the IMET
The ATMU is composed of one large shipping box consisting of a
theodolite with tripod, a belt weather kit, PIBAL weather balloons,
a nozzle and regulator for a helium tank, and office supplies and
miscellaneous expendables. Its volume is 13.8 cubic feet and it
weighs 122 pounds.
The AMRS is also composed of one large shipping box, and contains
a laptop computer, a satellite dish (BGAN) for obtaining weather data,
a printer and office supplies. The volume is 6.7 cubic feet,
and its weight is about 90.
Total weight of the ATMU and AMRS is 212 lbs with a volume of 20.5
cubic feet. The cubic feet are necessary for shipment by air. The
same specification shown are listed in the user agencies' National
Requests for the ATMU, AMRS, and IMET should be made through the
North Carolina Interagency Coordination Center. Typically, the IMET
nearest the incident will be deployed. However, during times of
limited resources, IMETs from other areas of the country may be
called. The decision will be made by the Special Meteorologist to
NIFC (SMC) in conjunction with the MIC and IMET from the affected
offices. It is the responsibility of the IMET to arrange shipment
of the AMRS workstation.
The success of the operation depends in part on the user agency
providing shelter and logistical support. Prior to the use of this
equipment, the IMET is expected to have coordinated with the local
user agency to ensure proper field support. If an IMET determines
that an ATMU and/or Fire RAWS is desirable, it is the IMET's responsibility
to ensure the ATMU and Fire RAWS have also been ordered for the
The requesting agency is responsible for any storage of service
equipment while in transit, and shelter for the IMET and service
equipment at the site. A sheltered work area, of at least 50 square
feet with a table and chair, must be protected from excessive dust,
free of standing water or condensation, and must be heated and/or
cooled sufficiently to allow efficient operation of equipment. Power
(120V AC) must be provided for the AMRS's electrical equipment,
and priority telephone access during certain short periods each
day must be made available.
The procedure for requesting IMETs will follow the guidelines outlined
in the national MOA, the National Mobilization Guide, and the Southern
Area Interagency Mobilization Guide. The following information will
be provided to the requested IMET:
1. Name of fire.
2. Location of fire.
3. Directions to location where the IMET is to report and the location
4. Name of Incident Commander, Plans Chief, and FBAN, if available.
5. Request and Resource Order number for IMET.
Upon arrival at the incident and after going through the appropriate
check-in procedures, the IMET will:
- Brief the Fire Behavior Analyst (FBAN), Planning Section Chief
(PSC), and the Incident Commander (IC) on current and expected
weather as it affects the fire.
- Establish a schedule with the IC and the FBAN for written forecasts
and formal briefings.
- Request a briefing of the fire situation and potential behavior
problems from the FBAN. As time and resources permit, incident
management should arrange for an aerial inspection trip for the
meteorologist and should provide the forecaster with current fireline
maps. If possible, the IMET should be assigned a radio with the
- Arrange for a schedule of observations from key points around
the fire and from nearby lookouts and fire danger stations, in
cooperation with the FBAN and PSC. On large fires, some personnel
(at least two) should be permanently assigned to this duty. On
smaller fires, this information can be provided by Division Supervisors
equipped with belt weather kits.
IMET duties will vary with incident management team requirements,
but the IMET is expected to provide daily weather forecasts for
the incident, participate in shift briefings, planning and strategy
meeting, and coordinate daily with the local Weather Forecast Office
(WFO) and /or other IMETs at nearby incidents.
Demobilization is initiated at the incident, and will be coordinated
through the North Carolina Interagency Coordination Center. Upon
release, the user agency will transport the ATMU and Fire RAWS back
to its cache location or to the controlling fire weather office.
Travel arrangements will be made for the IMET back to his or her
home office. The IMET is responsible for transporting the AMRS workstation
back to the home office. If the AMRS unit resides at a different
location than the IMET, the IMET must make arrangements to ship
the equipment to the proper office, and charge any shipping cost
to the fire.
Other special services may include weather station visits by partner
agency personnel, RAWS site surveys and inspections, weather observer
training, and course development work or related program work. These
activities would typically be at the full expense of the requesting
agency unless other arrangements have been made.
NWS meteorologists may also be asked to assist in other non-routine
services (e.g. briefings or coordination calls) during periods of
high fire danger or fire occurrence. MICs and Fire Program Leaders
are to ensure the natural resource agency needs are met with little
expense to either agency.
NWS meteorologists will be available to assist in user-oriented
training. This includes fire behavior courses, such as S-190 and
S-290, where the meteorologist will serve as part of the cadre for
that course. Requests for training assistance should be made through
the NWS office's Fire Weather Program Leader or Meteorologist-in-Charge
(MIC). Sufficient advance notice should be given to allow for scheduling
and proper preparation. Costs incurred by the NWS in providing training
assistance will be borne by the requesting agency.