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Unit 8: Keeping Current with The Weather

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Forecasting   ::   AFFIRMS   ::   Warnings   ::   Management   ::  Services  ::   Mobile Units   ::   Forecasts   ::   Monitoring   ::   Exercises

Special Forecasting Services

Spot Weather Forecast : A special forecast issued to fit the time, topography, and weather of a specific fire or other land management activity. These forecasts are issued upon request of the user agency, and are more detailed, timely, and specific than the zone forecasts.

Conditions on fires making it advisable to obtain a special spot weather forecast are:

  1. The general fire weather forecast does not seem to fit your situation.
  2. Indicators suggest possible blowup conditions.
  3. Control is not expected for considerable time.
  4. Red flag warnings are posted for the fire zone including the area.
  5. There is erratic fire behavior.
  6. The fire is in fast burning, moderate to heavy fuels.

The steps essential to getting good spot weather forecasts are:

  1. Take and record representative weather observations on the fire.
  2. Complete part I of the Weather Service request form.
  3. Transmit data from form to forecasting office.
  4. Provide forecaster feedback on accuracy of forecast.

The last step is not required by the forecaster, and it will not help the first forecast that you receive, but it certainly can help the forecaster improve on subsequent spot forecasts for the fire. As a result, we insist that step 4 is essential to getting the best forecast.

Example form
Example of fire weather special forecast request

The image above is of the Weather Service form that you should use. The request form has three parts. You will initially complete part I and transmit this data to the forecasting office. To help you become better acquainted with the information requested by the forecasting office, we would like you to complete part I of the form as we provide the information.

In block 1 at the top left, enter Summit Mountain Fire. Control agency is National Forestry Department. Request is made at 1310 hours on August 18. The location is: Section 12, Township 4 North, Range 6 West. The fire is in the Deep Creek drainage on a southeast exposure. The size of the fire is 85 acres. Elevation at the top is 3,800 feet; the bottom, 3,650 feet. The fire is in a pine thinning area with slash, and is not crowning.

Observations have been taken near the fire perimeter at 3,700 feet elevation. The observation time was 1245. Winds at eye level were southwest 6. Dry bulb was 86 degrees, wet bulb 62 degrees. The relative humidity and dew point could be determined in the field from psychrometric tables. However, it is not necessary that you provide them. The forecaster will do this. Under remarks, note stage 2 cumulus 15 miles to west. The forecast is to be sent to the fire camp, via radio, attention the Fire Boss.

When the forecast is received in fire camp by radio, it is recorded under part II, and part III is also completed. If the forecast should arrive in hard copy, it will be on the same form with parts I and II completed. These forecasts are usually provided within 30 to 40 minutes of the time the forecaster receives the request.

Why do you suppose fire weather forecasters request weather observations from the fire? Normally forecasts are made for large areas and are based on weather observation stations scattered throughout the United States and this part of the world. By giving the forecaster accurate data taken at the fire, he can better adapt the broader scale forecast to that specific area. The last portion of this unit is devoted to taking weather observations on fires.

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, November 10). Unit 8: Keeping Current with The Weather. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: http://ocw.usu.edu/Forest__Range__and_Wildlife_Sciences/Wildland_Fire_Management_and_Planning/Unit_8__Keeping_Current_with_The_Weather_4.html. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License