Natural Resource Agency Responsibilities

Operational Support and Predictive Services

Program Management

The natural resource agencies will oversee the fire weather observation program, including the siting and maintenance of the observing equipment, fire weather training of their personnel, and the proficiency of their personnel in the use of the NWS Spot software.

Monitoring, Feedback and Improvement

Natural resource agencies will monitor the quality and timeliness of NWS fire weather products, and provide feedback to the NWS in order to improve services to the agencies.

Technology Transfer

The natural resource agencies may, from time to time, advise the NWS of new technologies being implemented to monitor meteorological or fuel parameters, or to improve communication, coordination, training or reference. Natural resource agency personnel may, with prior arrangement, visit an NWS office to acquire a knowledge of NWS technologies used in the monitoring of weather, or the preparation of products.

Agency Computer Resources

Internet will be the primary method of obtaining the Fire Weather Forecast, Red Flag Warning, Fire Weather Watch, and for both requesting and receiving a Spot Forecast. As a backup method, a request can be made to the NWS for a product to be faxed to the customer agency. NFDRS observations will be entered into WIMS, and forecasts and calculations based on these observations will be received by WIMS, or by internet via a WIMS website.

Fire Weather Observations

Fire weather observation stations provide the specialized weather observations for fire weather forecasts, wildfire control and suppression, and various other land management operations. These stations were selected very carefully in each state and federal district. Sites were chosen to represent homogeneous weather conditions across a district. Stations may either be manned sites operated by land management agencies, or unmanned, Remote Automatic Weather Stations (RAWS) maintained by any of the federal or state land management agencies in the area.

All observation stations are assigned a 6-digit identification/location number. The first two digits indicate the state, the second two digits indicated the county, and the last two digits indicated the consecutively-assigned station number for that county. Land managers who wish to have a number assigned to a station should contact the GACC meteorologist at SACC in Atlanta.

RAWS stations are also assigned an 8 character alphanumeric identifier based on satellite transmission time. The NESDIS ID, transmit channel and time are assigned by the US Forest Service National RAWS program.

Observations from a satellite telemetered RAWS will automatically flow into WIMS via the NESDIS ID. If a station is not satellite telemetered, the data must be manually entered into WIMS. It is important the 1300 hour observation is quality controlled, as this observation will be used by the NFDRS. The RAWS owner must enter WIMS and manually change a recorded observation (an R ob) to an observed observation (an O ob), manually enter the State of the Weather (SOW), and save the observation to WIMS. This action is generally applied only to the daily 1300 hour observation. Non-NFDRS stations are naturally exempt from these procedures.

Even with automated observations, the responsibility still rests with the RAWS owner to ensure that observations are being transmitted, recorded, and archived properly in WIMS. Automation greatly simplify the daily process, however there will still be the need for observations to be checked for integrity and consistency. Managing the NFDRS model parameters will still be a manual process in WIMS. Automation will help streamline the WIMS collective that is distributed to the NWS via AWIPS. NFDRS forecasts are based on RAWS observations that appear on the daily collective and it is important these observations are accurate.

Sensor failure will often result in erroneous or (at best) suspicious values. If the NWS becomes aware of such a situation, it is prudent to contact the station owner. Similarly, if a station owner becomes aware of a sensor failure, he should relay that information to the appropriate NWS office. It is that station owner's responsibility to make sure that their station is and remains in good working order and repairs are made in a timely manner. Owners of NFDRS stations can still (and should) correct any errors in their respective observations.

It is important to note, observations are the most important single effort the control agencies put into the Fire Weather Program. Potential fire danger is derived from these observations. The Fire Danger Rating System is the guidance tool that, together with the weather forecast, is used to make a variety of management decisions. It is important that observers be well trained and informed of the necessity for accurate, timely, and representative observations.

On - Site Support

The user agencies are also responsible for maintaining observation site equipment. NWS personnel may accompany the user on maintenance trips or for annual inspection visits, which could also serve as liaison with the users.

Training

The responsibility of training natural resource agency employees will be that of the agencies themselves. However, the NWS will be available to assist when requested to do so. Any expenses incurred by the NWS will normally be charged to the user agency, unless other arrangements have been made.

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