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Annual Operating Plan for EGB & NWS

Introduction

This document serves as the Interagency Annual Operating Plan (AOP) for Fire Weather and Predictive Services for the Eastern Great Basin Geographic Area (EGB). The general relationship between the National Weather Service (NWS) and the interagency fire management community is set forth in the National Interagency Agreement for Meteorological Services. This AOP provides specific procedural and policy information regarding the delivery of meteorological services to the fire management community within the EGB as allowed under the umbrella of the National Agreement.

References include:

I. SIGNIFICANT CHANGES FOR 2013

  • A few Fire Weather Zones have been changed or added in the Boise and Pocatello Forecast Areas. See the individual WFO sections in Appendix A for more information and maps.
  • Boise WFO will drop the 'widely scattered' terminology from their fire weather forecasts. The thunderstorm coverage options will now be: 'Isolated, Scattered or Widespread'. See Appendix A for more details.

II. ORGANIZATIONAL DIRECTORY

Cooperating federal and state land management agencies in the Eastern Great Basin include:

Bureau of Land Management USDA Forest Service US Fish and Wildlife Service
Bureau of Indian Affairs National Park Service
Utah Forestry, Fire and State Lands Idaho Department of Lands

Fire weather products and services are provided by Eastern Great Basin Predictive Services and the following NWS offices within the NWS Central and Western Regions:

Boise, ID Flagstaff, AZ Grand Junction, CO Las Vegas, NV
Pocatello, ID Riverton, WY Salt Lake City, UT

Service area information Predictive Services and each NWS office is available in Appendix A. A condensed contact information list can be found in Appendix B. NOTE: All phone numbers are unlisted and should not be given to the general public.

National Weather Service - Services And Responsibilities

I. Basic Services - A. Required Core Grids

I. BASIC SERVICES

Basic services constitute the collective suite of operational fire weather forecast products and professional services provided by the NWS. Any changes to these forecast services or implementation of new operational forecast products and/or services will be coordinated with the EGB Predictive Services Unit (PSU) (Reference NWSI 10-403) and with local land management officials within the County Warning Forecast Area (CWFA) of the NWS office that is proposing the changes. Any non- operational forecast products will be clearly labeled as “Experimental”.

A. Required Core Grids and Web-based Fire Weather Decision Support

National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) grids are used to produce a wide variety of products and services for fire weather support Operational status of NWS grid elements is available at the following website: http://www.weather.gov/ndfd/resources/NDFD_element_status.pdf.

All NWS offices produce a digital forecast database that provides a variety of web accessible planning tools for fire weather partners.  These tools can be of assistance to help determine the timing for a spot forecast request and include:

- Point Forecast Matrix (PFM)
- Digital Point Forecast
- FARSITE
- Weather Activity Planner
- Hourly weather graphs
- 48 Hr Element Meteorogram

These tools are all available at any time via links on top of NWS office fire weather web pages.  NWS offices may also produce other tools for their area of responsibility.  If you have questions, ideas or need more information on digital planning tools, please contact your nearest NWS office listed in this AOP.

I. Basic Services - B. Red Flag Warnings

B. Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches

The Red Flag Warning and Fire Weather Watch program is designed to provide land management officials with advanced notice of weather conditions that, when coupled with critical fuel conditions, can lead to extreme fire behavior or heightened potential for large fire starts. It is implicit that firefighter and public safety are of the utmost importance. Identification of Red Flag events is a shared, collaborative responsibility between land management officials and NWS fire weather forecasters. Weather forecasters must identify weather conditions that will contribute to extreme fire behavior or heightened large fire potential and land managers must provide information on the critical nature of fuels.

A Red Flag Warning shall be issued when Red Flag weather criteria (defined below) are forecast to occur within the next 24 - 48 hours or are already occurring, and are coupled with critical fuel conditions.

A Fire Weather Watch shall be issued when there is a high potential for Red Flag weather criteria to be met in the 18 - 96 hour time frame. The watch may be issued for all or selected portions within a fire weather zone or region.

1. Criteria

Standardized criteria for issuance of Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches in the EGB are a combination of weather and critical fuel conditions. These warnings can be issued for either dry and windy conditions, or when an elevated threat of fire causing lighting is expected given that the fuels are critical. These criteria can also be combined.

The criteria for wind and relative humidity vary across EGB:

Red Flag for Wind

The criteria for lighting based warnings vary across EGB:

Red Flag for Lightning

These criteria assume the following:

  1. Fuels must be critical. Two sources of information exist for NWS weather forecasters to acquire the status of fuels: the 7-Day Dryness Levels produced at EGBCC and the Critical Fuel Status webpage that is updated by local fuel specialists. Each WFO can choose which method or combination of methods will be used to determine the fuel status.
    • 7-Day Fire Potential Dryness Levels: If the Dryness Level is either Dry (yellow) or Very Dry (brown) for the PSA in which the FWZ lies the fuels can be considered critical for Red Flag Warning purposes.

    http://psgeodata.fs.fed.us/7day/action/forecast/2

    • Critical Fuel Status: The fuel condition for each FWZ within EGB will either be set as critical or non-critical during fire season. If using this method for determining the status of the fuels.

    http://199.141.1.20/fuels/egb/public/

  2. Wind gust speed must be from NWCG compliant RAWS stations (20-foot) or a NWS/FAA ASOS station (10 meter). Wind gust speed measurements from other observation platforms will be used upon agreement between NWS and land management agencies.

2. Product Format and Content

A Red Flag Warning/Fire Weather Watch statement (RFW) will be used for issuing, updating, and canceling all Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches. This message will include:

  1. Headline that includes a description of the watch or warning, a description of the area (i.e., fire weather zones, counties, agency administrative unit, etc.), and the time period for which the watch or warning is valid in bulleted format.
  2. Please provide feedback about this format along with any questions to your local WFO throughout the fire season.

3. Procedures and Access

When Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches are issued, they will be headlined in both the fire weather planning forecast and any subsequent spot forecasts. In the planning forecast, the headline shall appear at the beginning, before the discussion section, and at the beginning of each zone or zone grouping affected by the warning or watch. The headline will be in the same descriptive format as on the RFW product itself. If issuance of a Red Flag Warning or Fire Weather Watch requires an update of the planning forecast, the NWS office will notify the affected dispatch centers and the EGB PSU as soon as possible during business hours.

Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches will remain in effect through the expiration time noted in the planning forecast, or until canceled or updated.

Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches can be accessed through the various NWS offices that serve the EGB, the EGB PSU web site, and WIMS. Links can be found in Appendix A.

I. Basic Services - C. Spot Forecasts

C. Spot Forecasts

Spot forecasts are site-specific forecast products issued for wildfires, prescribed burns, aerial spraying, HAZMAT incidents, search and rescue, and other land management activities. Spot forecasts are available by request, 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. They are available to any federal, state, county or municipal agency as described in NWSI 10-401.

The priority for spot forecast issuances and updates is described in NWS Western Region Supplement 14-2003, Prioritizing Products and Workload Activities for Western Region Forecast Offices.

Site-specific forecasts are considered one-time requests. Updates will be issued when:

  1. The forecaster determines that the current spot forecast does not adequately represent current or expected weather conditions, or;
  2. Land management personnel communicate to the forecaster that the current forecast is unrepresentative of conditions at the site, or;
  3. A typographical or formatting error is detected and could confuse the intended meaning.

Updates will be disseminated to users in the same manner as the original spot forecast. If the update is initiated by the NWS, a follow-up phone call will be made to inform the user (i.e., the original requestor) that an update has been issued. If the update is requested by the user, a contact point number will be provided.

1. Content and Format

Spot forecasts may contain the following elements as requested by the user.

Table 1. Spot Forecast Elements
Forecast Element Requirement Remark
Headline National Required if watch or warning is in effect when spot is issued.
Discussion National
Sky/Weather National
Temperature National
Relative Humidity National
Wind - 20ft, 10-min ave. National
Transport wind, mixing height, LAL, Haines, Chance of wetting rain, etc. By request Request made via NWS Spot web interface or Spot Forecast Request Form D-1
HYSPLIT Trajectories By request Request made via NWS Spot web interface. See #3 below for more detailed instructions.

The valid time will be determined at the time of the request. Most spots contain three periods, usually “TODAY”, “TONIGHT”, and “TOMORROW” but users will indicate the period(s) for which a forecast is needed in their request.

2. Procedures for Requesting Spot Forecasts

Internet-based NWS Spot is the standard for requesting and retrieving spot forecasts and should be used when available. It is accessible via web sites of the NWS offices that serve the EGB and on the EGB Predictive Services web site, found in Appendix B.

When Internet access is not available, spot forecasts may be requested and disseminated via fax - using spot forecast request form D-1 (NWSI-401). Spot forecasts should be available within 60 minutes of the time the NWS office receives the request. If a spot forecast is not returned within 60 minutes, the requestor should contact the NWS office immediately. Spot forecasts should be requested no more than 24 hours in advance. Beyond this time, planning information should be used, including the fire weather planning forecast, weather activity planner and fire weather point forecast matrix. For large burn plans, please coordinate multiple spot forecast requests with your local NWS office. It is strongly recommended that the requestor indicate the time he or she needs the forecast returned. If not specified in a spot forecast request, the NWS assumes the forecast is needed immediately.

The requestor must provide information about the location (latitude/longitude), slope aspect, drainage name, fuel type(s), top and bottom elevations of fire or project (if appropriate), size of fire or project, ignition time (if appropriate), and a contact name(s) and telephone number(s) of the responsible land management personnel. It is critically important that each spot forecast request also include quality, representative observations at, or near, the site or from a nearby representative RAWS station. A detailed description of the observation location relative to the project (if not at the site) should be provided. The description should include, at a minimum, distance and direction from the project or fire site, station elevation and aspect.

3. HYSPLIT Trajectories Request

HYSPLIT Trajectories is a model which determines trajectories for parcels at  a given height above ground level. An easy method has been developed to take advantage of the base information that is already input into the spot request form to generate automated HYSPLIT Trajectory forecasts.  The HYSPLIT trajectories can be used for many purposes (i.e. HAZMAT, smoke, etc.).

The HYSPLIT output represents computer model forecasts without any human interaction. They do not take into account information on burn size or fuels, thus generate trajectory forecasts for 500, 1500, and 3000 meters AGL without regarding whether fire plume height will reach that altitude.

To utilize this feature, simply add the word Hysplit and your email address into the remarks section of a spot request:

example Hysplit first.last@noaa.gov  

You will receive an email that consists of a table of values, a GIF Hysplit trajectory map, and a KMZ trajectory map for loading into Google Earth.

It is recommended that you try this procedure and get a feel for its content before using it for actual guidance on a burn or fire.  

For more information, please visit  http://www.arl.noaa.gov/HYSPLIT_info.php.  If you have any questions, please contact your local fire weather program leader.  

4. Spot Forecast Feedback Requirement

Good communication between fire managers and the NWS is critical for quality spot forecast services. Land management personnel should provide feedback to the NWS forecasters about the quality and accuracy of the spot forecast. Feedback should also be relayed to GACC meteorologists. Responsibility for providing fire line observations for the verification of forecast accuracy rests with the land management agencies, and is to be provided via the online spot request form.

 

I. Basic Services - D. National Fire Danger Ratings System

D. National Fire Danger Ratings System (NFDRS) Forecasts

The National Weather Service will provide National Fire Danger Ratings System (NFDRS) forecasts valid at 1300 LST (1400 LDT) the next day after issuance. These forecasts are used to prepare the NFDRS fire danger indices for the next day.

1. Criteria for Issuane

NWS will issue NFDRS forecasts daily when NFDRS-compliant observations are received.  Edited NFDRS observations must be complete and available in WIMS by 1350 LST (1450 LDT) to be received by NWS in time to produce a forecast.

  • If the unofficial or ‘R’ type 1400 LDT observation is available in WIMS or ROMAN an NFDRS forecast can be created and sent back to WIMS. Forecasts must not be sent to WIMS before the unofficial 1400 observation is received in WIMS/ROMAN because NFDRS forecasts will use yesterday’s observation to calculate the NFDRS indices, which is incorrect. 

2. Content and Format

The content and format shall comply with NWSI 10-4. Each NFDRS forecast shall also include the 24 min and max temperature and relative humidity forecast and shall not include the 10 hr fuel moisture forecast. A wet flag of ‘yes’ should only be forecast if the forecaster is certain that precipitation will be of sufficient duration and amount to keep fuels wet or when expectation is that fuels will be snow covered. The actual NWS NFDRS forecast product is used only by WIMS and is not viewable directly by fire management personnel.

3. Procedures

Each WFO shall produce individual NFDRS station (point) forecasts. Valid observations must appear on the 1400 LST (1500 LDT) observation collective or forecasts will not be generated. A second collective is generated around 1530 LDT to catch any missed (late) observations.

I. Basic Services - E. Planning Forecasts

E. Planning Forecasts (FWF)

Planning forecasts (or preparedness forecasts) are issued by all NWS WFOs offices serving the EGB. These forecasts provide general, zone-based information used in daily planning and preparedness.

1. Issuance Times During Fire Season

Two forecasts will be issued daily – a morning forecast issued no later than 0730 local time and an afternoon forecast issued by 1530 local time – 7 days a week during the fire season. Twice per day fire weather forecast requirements will normally run from the first Monday in May to the last Friday in October, with sub-regional variations dependent on weather, elevation and latitude. Local start and stop dates shall be coordinated between the NWS offices and fire weather customers, including the geographic area Predictive Services Units. Modifications to these start and stop dates are enumerated in Appendix B, National Weather Service Offices.

2. Issuance Outside Fire Season

Some NWS offices issue fire weather planning forecasts year-round. However, all NWS offices will issue spot forecasts upon request at any time of year.

3. Forecast Updates

Forecasts will be updated for the first 48 hour time period when: 1) A Fire Weather Watch or a Red Flag Warning is issued, cancelled, or updated; 2) when any of the amendment criteria in Table 1 are met over a meteorologically significant area; or 3) typographic or formatting errors that confuse the intended meaning are detected.

Table 2. Fire Weather Forecast and Associated Digital Data Amendment Criteria
Forecast AMEND when...
No thunderstorms forecast. Thunderstorms occurring or are imminent prior to the next routine planning forecast issuance.
Wind speed of 15 mph or greater. Speed exceeds forecast by 10 mph or more.
Average minimum RH is 16% to 40%. Differs by 10% or more.
Average minimum RH is 15% or less. Differs by 5% or more.

The NWS forecaster should notify all impacted Dispatch and Communications Centers when the forecast has been updated. The forecaster should also notify the Meteorologist or the Coordinator on Duty (COD) at the GACC. When notifying the GACC, do not use voicemail during normal business hours (published in Appendix B). During non-business hours (i.e., overnight), no special notification is necessary.

4. Access

Forecasts are transmitted automatically to the Internet. Forecasts can be accessed through the various NWS offices that serve the Eastern Great Basin, the EGB PSU web site, and WIMS. Links can be found in Appendix B.

5. Content and Format

Forecasts will conform to the national standard narrative format, per NWSI 10-401. Morning forecasts will focus on the following 36 hours (3 operational periods). Afternoon forecasts will focus on the following 48 hours (4 operational periods). General extended outlooks will cover, at a minimum, the next 5 calendar days.

Each forecast will begin with pertinent headlines and a brief, non-technical weather discussion highlighting significant weather events or critical fire weather patterns. Headlines are required for Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches and are encouraged for other significant fire weather elements that do not meet Red Flag criteria. Affected zone segments of the planning forecast must also include the appropriate headline.

Forecasts for the first 36 or 48 hours will contain the elements shown in Tables 2 and 3 below for each zone or zone grouping, listed in the order they will appear. Format examples and descriptions of forecast elements can be found in the appendices.

Table 3. Planning Forecast (FWF) Elements
Forecast Elements and Order Requirement Remarks
Headline(s) National As appropriate
Sky/Weather National
Temperature and optional 24-hour trend National In complex terrain, temperature and RH should be forecast at discrete elevations (e.g., 3000-ft, 5000-ft, 8000-ft, etc.) or at generally accepted locations (i.e., valley bottom, mid-slope, etc.). These should be coordinated with the local land management agencies and Predictive Services.
Wind - 20-ft RAWS standard (slope/valley) National Wind speed must conform to the NWCG standard of 20-ft, 10 min. average wind.
Wind - Ridgetop (as appropriate) National
Chance of Wetting Rain (0.10 inch) Eastern Great Basin
Lightning Activity Level (LAL) Eastern Great Basin As defined in Table 4.
Haines Index Eastern Great Basin
Mean Mixing Height Optional
Meant Transport Wind Optional
Ventilation Index (kt-ft) Optional
Extended forecast to day 7 National One extended forecast at end of planning forecast or each zone, per local agreement.

Table 4. Lightning Activity Level Definitions
LAL Description Areal Coverage
1 No lightning.
2 Isolated wet or dry thunderstorms. Less than 15% coverage.
3 Widely scattered wet thunderstorms. 15% to 24% coverage.
4 Scattered wet thunderstorms. 25% to 54% coverage.
5 Numerous wet thunderstorms. 55% to 100% coverage.
6 Widely scattered or greater dry thunderstorms. 15% or greater coverage.

I. Basic Services - F. Scheduled WFO Backup/Extended Radar Outage

F. Scheduled WFO Backup/Extended Radar Outage

A. Backup Notification

Dispatch Centers will be notified of any scheduled backups by another WFO.  The earlier the notification, the more beneficial this will be for the project manager’s decisions in planning for prescribed burns, as well as for coordination during wildfires.  Daily reminders are recommended.  If project managers/burn bosses still want to proceed with prescribed burns, planned for the day of backup, they should submit spot forecast requests before 0700 MDT, if they want their forecasts generated by the local WFO.  Otherwise, forecasters from a different WFO (who have less expertise in the CWA) will produce the spot forecasts. The office performing the backup duties will be listed at the top of the forecast products.

B. Extended Radar Outage

Dispatch Centers, including EGBCC, will be notified of extended radar outages via a message in the NWS Chat room for fire weather, egbfirechat.  

An example of a message regarding the Cedar City (Brian Head) radar:

FTMICX

 Message Date:  Mar 05 2012 17:36:27
 KICX WILL BE DOWN PERIODICALLY THROUGHOUT THE DAY TODAY MARCH 5 2012 FOR MAINTENANCE.

Similar message will be available for all radar sites in the EGB area.  For more information on the radars and NWS Chat, please consult your nearest NWS office.

II. Participating in Interagency Groups

II. Participation in Interagency Groups

A. Local Outreach Meetings

NWS offices should participate in at least one outreach meeting per year, usually prior to the start of the next fire season with local fire management units. These meetings can be used to strengthen the customer relationship, present new or changes to services and address local concerns. GACC meteorologists should be notified of these meetings and strongly encouraged to participate. Similarly, fire agencies should advise the GACC of fire weather meetings they are planning.

B. GACC Meetings

NWS WFOs and local Interagency Dispatch Centers within the EGB should send a representative to the annual AOP meeting (if scheduled). Proxy representation is acceptable. A GACC-wide fall review meeting can be used to review the previous season, discuss what worked and what did not and identify issues to be addressed for the next Annual Operating Plan.

III. Special Services

III. Special Services

NWS will provide and maintain a cadre of trained Incident Meteorologists (IMETs). A sufficient number of IMETs should be available to support multiple incidents from May through September. Information regarding the dispatch of IMETs, both within and outside the EGB, can be found in the Great Basin Mobilization Guide.

IV. Forecaster Training

IV. Forecaster Training

The NWS recognizes the need for specialized training in fire weather meteorology for forecasters. Any NWS meteorologist producing fire weather products shall have met the requirements set forth in NWSI 10-405.

Eastern Great Basin - Services And Responsibilities

A. Operational Support and Predictive Services

The EGB Predictive Services Unit resides at the Eastern Great Basin Coordination Center. The interagency coordination centers’ primary mission is to provide resource support for the functional areas of overhead, crews, aircraft, supplies and equipment to the field for wildland fire and other emergency operations.

The PSU will provide daily, medium-range, and long-range fire weather, fire danger, and resource outlooks for use in tactical and strategic planning. These outlooks will complement short-term forecast products provided by the NWS.

A. Operational Products and Decision-Support Services

Predictive Services will produce a suite of products tailored to the tactical and strategic mission of the land management agencies within the EGB. While the main area of responsibility is at the geographic area level, Predictive Services will provide services to sub-units of the geographic area, such as dispatch centers and local administrative units. Contributions will also be made to the national level Predictive Services program. All products will be available on the EGB PSU web page.

1. 7-Day Significant Fire Potential Outlook

The 7-Day Significant Fire Potential Outlook addresses the probability of new large fires for each Predictive Services Area (PSA) across the EGB for each of the next 7 days. The outlook will identify significant fire potential in a 3-category scale based on ERCs and 100-hour fuel moisture forecasts. Fire triggers (i.e., lightning, wind, etc.) will be incorporated to refine the potential on individual days. A map of PSAs within EGB is included in Appendix B.

The outlook will be issued every morning – Monday through Friday and on weekends during critical fire periods - by 0930 MST/MDT, beginning mid May and continuing through October 31. Seasonal start and stop dates may vary based on fire business needs and large fire potential. Updates will be made when it appears that observed or expected conditions are significantly different than those contained in the product.

2. Fire Potential Web Briefing

EGB PSU will be producing a daily Fire Potential Web Briefing Monday through Friday beginning June 4th. The web briefing should be available on the EGB website by 1000 MST/MDT. This breifing will focus on regional Fire Potential trends for the next 7-10 days.

3. Daily Fire Weather Map

The Daily Fire Weather Map is a text-and-graphics product which summarizes expected fire weather conditions for the next 24 and 48 Hours. Fire behavior forecasts will be included when a Fire Behavior Analyst is assigned to Predictive Services at either or both of the coordination centers. This typically occurs when the Great Basin MAC is convened.

The Daily Fire Weather Map will be issued every day – Monday through Friday and on weekends during critical fire periods beginning early June and continuing through mid October. Seasonal start and stop dates may vary based on fire business needs and large fire potential. Updates will be made when it appears that observed or expected conditions are significantly different than those contained in the product.

4. Monthly Fire Potential Outlook

The Monthly Fire Potential Outlook is a broader, more general assessment of weather, climate, and fuels conditions across the area. It incorporates climate trends, potential weather, and fuels condition and trends to make long-term predictions of impacts on fire business. Outlooks will focus on potential for large fire activity and time frames that will impact resource availability and mobilization relative to normal fire business for the time of year.

The Monthly outlook will be issued no later than 2 business days prior to the start of the month for which it is valid. Monthly outlooks will be produced by both the Predictive Services National Office and the EGB PSU, following the same general format.

5. Seasonal Fire Potential Outlook

The EGB Seasonal Outlook is similar to the Monthly, except for a longer time period. This outlook attempts to predict the overall character of the upcoming fire season relative to a normal season (based on 5 to 10 year historical averages). The Seasonal is issued in the late winter or early spring prior to the onset of the fire season, and is updated at irregular intervals as needed, with a first update issued around mid-May. These times are not fixed, depending heavily on such factors as winter snowpack, onset and progress of snow melt, weather trends, fuels condition and trends, etc.

The Predictive Services National Office also issues a running 3 month outlook, with input from EGB PSU, which is a fire potential trend forecast.

6. Fuel Status Tables and Map

The Fuels Status table and map is produced primarily to provide NWS forecasters with a snapshot of fuels conditions that would require a red flag warning or fire weather watch if weather conditions that would meet the red flag criteria (NWS Roles - Section B) are expected or are imminent. These do not replace the NFDRS observed and forecast indices for fire danger. Instead, the fuels status table and map highlight areas where fuel conditions would support large fire growth or extreme fire behavior as determined by fuels and fire specialists on the ground. The tabular and graphical information also do not preclude coordination between the NWS forecasters and the local land management agencies they serve.

The table will be updated regularly (preferably every 7-10 days) or immediately if fuels become critical by land management fuels specialists (or other designee). The map will automatically update to reflect what is displayed by the tabular data and will indicate when it was last updated.

7. Experimental Combined Lightning Potential/Fuel Dryness Graphic

The Combined Lightning Potential/Fuel Dryness Graphic continues to be an experimental product. It is generated by combining the Dryness Level information produced by the GACC with the Lightning Potential forecast produced by the NWS.

Product is hosted by the Storm Prediction Center. http://w1.spc.woc.noaa.gov/exper/ltgfuel/
SLC WFO will continue to issue the “Fuel Dryness and Lightning Probability Information” http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/slc/fire/Dryness/Dryness.php

 

B. Land Management Liaison

B. Land Management Liaison

Predictive Services meteorologists will act as a liaison on issues regarding weather, climate, and fuels between the land management agency partners in the EGB and service providers in these areas, including the NWS, private sector providers, and the research community.

C. Monitoring, Feedback and Improvement of Fire Weather Information

C. Monitoring, Feedback and Improvement of Fire Weather Information

Land management agencies will monitor all sources of fire weather information to ensure quality, consistency, and applicability. When significant issues arise, Predictive Services will address the issue with the service provider to enhance awareness and to work toward an appropriate solution. Items of significance include, but are not limited to:

  1. General forecast consistency between County Warning and Forecast Areas (CWFAs), dispatch zones, and land management administrative units.
  2. Red Flag Warning and Fire Weather Watch consistency with established criteria, timeliness of issuance, coordination and applicability.
  3. NFDRS forecast consistency with station climate histories.
  4. Quality of fireline observations and spot forecast feedback from the field.
  5. Overall adherence to policy and procedure, especially as set forth in the AOP.
  6. Feedback from the field on the quality of all forecast products, especially Red Flag Warnings and Watches and Spot forecasts.

It is imperative that field personnel provide timely feedback to the NWS about products and services. This information will be used to gauge the quality and validity of products and services, make improvements and to resolve any conflicts or discrepancies between products issued. Feedback should be provided as soon as possible so that action can be taken immediately. Feedback may be positive or negative but it should always be constructive and intended to provide information that will help improve products and services. Comments can be submitted through Predictive Services or directly to the NWS (with a copy to Predictive Services).

D. Technology and Data Transfer

D. Technology and Data Transfer

Predictive Services will work to integrate advanced technology into analytical and prediction systems for use in fire management planning and operations. This will include regional numerical modeling, weather and fuels data assimilation and dissemination, and continued research and development in fire meteorology.

Where fire management computer systems, such as WIMS, are available, access will be granted to NWS for the purpose of obtaining and providing mission critical information, such as weather observations and forecasts.

E. Fire Weather Observations

E. Fire Weather Observations

Weather observations will be provided by the land agencies to the NWS to ensure sufficient information is available to produce quality forecast products. RAWS observations will comply with NWCG standards for quality and timeliness. RAWS will be sited and maintained in accordance with the NWCG PMS 426-3, “National Fire Danger Rating System Weather Station Standards.”

Weather observations at or near the fire or project site are highly recommended when requesting a spot forecast. If this is not possible, observations from a nearby, representative RAWS site may be substituted. Fireline observations are strongly preferred. Agency personnel should provide observations containing, at a minimum: temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and weather and sky condition that complies with guidance provided in NFES 2140, “Weather Station Handbook – an Interagency Guide for Wildland Managers.” Keep in mind that the quality of the observation, or how representative it is of conditions at the fire or project site, will affect the precision a forecaster can provide in a spot weather forecast.

For large or complex planned projects requiring spot forecasts, such as prescribed burns, aerial spraying, rehabilitation, etc., it is strongly recommended that observations be taken for a minimum of seven (7) days, 24 hours a day, prior to commencement of the project. This will provide forecasters with a history of diurnal variations of weather, temperature, humidity, and wind at or near the project site. For smaller, less complex projects, such as pile burns, observations should be collected for a minimum of two (2) days.

F. Incident Response

F. Incident Response

The NWS is the provider of Incident Meteorologists (IMETs). Predictive Services meteorologists can respond to incidents when the NWS cannot provide a certified IMET within 24-hours of request receipt by the National Fire Weather Operations Coordinator (NFWOC). In these instances, and when requested by incident command staff, Predictive Services meteorologists will provide forecast support as a Technical Specialist until the arrival of a certified NWS IMET. Technical Specialists will not be used as a substitute for NWS IMETs. Forecast support will revert to the NWS IMET after a reasonable transition period.

Joint Responsibilities

A. Briefings

A. Briefings

Predictive Services or NWS meteorologists may be asked to provide briefings to agency decision- makers. These briefings generally occur during peak periods of the fire season or when a Multi- Agency Coordination (MAC) Group has been convened. The briefings usually include a short-term weather discussion of critical weather patterns and a longer-term discussion of trends during the next several days. The briefings provide tactical (operational) and strategic (planning) information for land managers.

Briefing schedules vary with planning and staffing levels, fire activity, and management priorities. Predictive Services will provide briefing schedules and conference bridge phone numbers, as needed.

B. Coordination Calls

B. Coordination

Coordination Calls

GACC-wide weather and fuels coordination calls shall be held during the 2012 fire season. Attendees shall include EGB Predictive Services, a representative from each NWS office and dispatched IMETS when available. Coordination calls will begin on a weekly basis on 6 June and continue each Wednesday. Calls will be held daily during periods of critical fire activity. Calls will take place at 1130 a.m. MDT on the EGB conference call bridge (which will be sent via e-mail).

NWSChat

NWSChat is an online chat tool available to help NWS Meteorologists and Fire Managers better communicate, especially during periods of active fire weather. Fire Managers must register online to be given a username and password. Each NWS office hosts a chatroom. There is also an 'EGBC Fire Chat' Chatroom where all NWS offices within EGB can post and fire managers througout the GACC can see updates. For more info on NWSChat Live and to request a username and login please see the website:

https://nwschat.weather.gov/live/

C. Training

C. Training

Training for weather sections of S-190, S-290, S-390 and other fire weather courses can be provided at customer request. Requests can be made at any time of year to any of the NWS offices in the Great Basin. Requests will generally be met unless there are scheduling or staffing conflicts at the NWS office. In these cases, the requesting person or agency should provide alternate dates. If this is not possible, the NWS will assist in locating another trainer from another NWS office, or as necessity dictates, from the GACC. Reimbursement for NWS instructor travel costs is required for all training requests.

Cross-training between NWS and GACC meteorologists is encouraged. NWS forecasters can detail at the GACC to gain an understanding of the decision support role Predictive Services fills in fire operations. GACC meteorologists can shadow NWS forecasters to view the forecast preparation process utilizing technologies available at NWS offices. Scheduling of cross-training visits should be arranged as far in advance as possible to reduce impacts on operations. However, because of the rapidly-changing nature of fire operations, the best opportunity may come with short notice. Flexibility is necessary.

D. Verification

D. Verification

Predictive Services and NWS meteorologists will cooperatively develop, perform, and report verification results of prepared fire weather products. These will include, but are not limited to: Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches; NFDRS point forecasts; 7 Day fire weather/fire potential outlooks. Data sources used in verification must be well-sited, representative of conditions being verified, and reliable. Data sources not listed explicitly in the AOP will be determined on a case by case basis by both NWS and Predictive Services meteorologists. Verification of Fire Weather Watches/Red Flag Warnings should generally occur within a few days of an event or a period of events. NWS and Predictive Services should discuss verification results at least annually at the end of the season to ensure consistent verification methods are used and to share lessons learned from each event.

E. Establishing or Modifying Forecast Zone Boundaries

E. Establishing or Modifying Forecast Zone Boundaries

Forecast zone boundaries shall be established and/or modified jointly by the NWS and the land management agencies with administrative responsibility for the affected lands. Predictive Services meteorologists should be included in negotiations. Existing zone boundaries may be modified to avoid splitting land management administrative boundaries between multiple NWS forecast areas. Changes must be agreed upon at least 120 days prior to implementation.

F. Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) Monitoring

F. Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) Monitoring

All Meteorologists should monitor the RAWS network for suspect or erroneous data, using sound meteorological judgment to determine if data is not representative of conditions. When an observation is identified as unrepresentative, forecasters should notify the EGB Predictive Services meteorologist to initiate maintenance or repair of the station in question. Predictive Services will relay information regarding the network to, address issues and concerns with, and offer recommendations for improvements to the network to the USDA Forest Service Regional RAWS coordinator and to the BLM-NIFC RAWS Program manager, as appropriate. Predictive Services will attempt to notify appropriate NWS offices of outages and restoration of services in a timely fashion, as time and human resources allow.

Effective Dates for the Annual Operating Plan

The effective period for this Annual Operating Plan shall be from 1 May 2010 to 30 April 2011. The AOP shall be deemed official when all signatories have accepted and signed the document. Updates or amendments may be added upon agreement of all signatories.

Signatures

Signature on file

________________________________

Sue Stewart

Chair, Great Basin Coordinating Group

USDA Forest Service

Director, Fire and Avaition Management, Region 4


Date:___________________________

Signature on file

________________________________

John Jannuzzi

Meteorologist-in-Charge, Boise

Idaho State Liaison

National Weather Service


Date:___________________________

Signature on file

________________________________

Larry Dunn

Meteorologist-in-Charge, Salt Lake City

Utah State Liaison

National Weather Service


Date:___________________________

Signature on file

________________________________

Steven Apfel

Meteorologist-in-Charge,

Wyoming State Liaison

National Weather Service


Date:___________________________

Signature on file

________________________________

Gary Woodall

Meteorologist-in-Charge,

Arizona State Liaison

National Weather Service


Date:___________________________


Eastern Great Basin

EASTERN GREAT BASIN

1. Changes for 2013 Season

See Main section of AOP for overall program changes.

2. Hours of Operation

Monday through Friday: 0730 to 1600.

Saturday and Sunday: As needed, 1 June through 30 September

Center open 1 May through 30 September 0700 to 1800 MDT. If need arises, request Coordinator-on-Duty (COD) to contact meteorologist if not on-duty.

3. Staff and Contact Information

See Appendix B.

Eastern Great Basin Fire Weather Zones

EGB Fire Weather Zones map

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Eastern Great Basin Predictive Services Areas (PSAs)

EGB Predictive Services Areas map

Boise

NWS BOISE WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE

1. Changes for 2013 Season

  • Zones across southwest and south central Idaho have been reconfigured both in the BLM and Forest service areas.  Fire Weather Zone 420 has been created which includes areas outside of the Treasure/Magic Valley southward to the Idaho/Nevada border. It will be named “Southern Highlands”.  Please see the attached map for information.

    For less confusion, NWS Boise will no longer use the phrase “widely scattered” (15-25% coverage) when discussing thunderstorm coverage. It will be replaced with “Isolated” (<25% coverage).

2. Hours of Operation

Once a day pre-fire season product issuance will begin Monday, April 16th, but is dependent on weather and fuel conditions. These forecasts will be issued Monday through Friday by 1530 MDT.

Starting dates for the full complement of fire weather products (including NFDRS forecasts and twice-daily zone forecasts) will depend on variables such as fuel dryness and customer needs. Typically, this occurs by mid to late May.

Staff meteorologists are available any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The fire weather desk is staffed from 730 am to 330 pm.

3. Staff and Contact Information

See Appendix B.

4. Fire Weather Services

A. Description of Boise Fire Weather District within Eastern Great Basin:

  • West Central Idaho Mountains
    • Zone 400: Northern Boise BLM
    • Zone 401: Western Payette NF and SITPA
    • Zone 402: Eastern Payette NF
    • Zone 403: Northern Boise NF
    • Zone 404: Southern Boise NF/W. Sawtooth NF, including the Camas Prairie
  • Southwest Idaho
    • Zone 408: Treasure Valley
    • Zone 418: Shoshone BLM
    • Zone 419: Owyhee Mountains
    • Zone 420: Southern Highlands

B. Basic Meteorological Services

Weather Briefing:  During the fire season, a daily briefing will be offered each day at 0930 MDT for all agencies via a GoTo Meeting. During pre-fire season and low fire activity periods it will be held on Mondays and Thursdays at 0930 MDT. This briefing will include a general discussion of weather conditions and forecasts for the current day, as well a brief discussion of the extended period. Model data, satellite loops, and other items of interest will be addressed for the forecast period. The briefing will usually be about 10 minutes but may be longer during active fire periods.  

Spot Forecasts: Requests for spot forecasts will be received via the Boise Fire Weather homepage found at:  

http://spot.nws.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/spot/spotmon?site=boi

Alternatively requests can be faxed to:   (208) 334-1662         

C. Product Schedule

Morning Fire weather forecast By 0830 MDT
Weather Briefing At 0930 MDT
Afternoon fire weather forecast By 1530 MDT
NFDRS point forecasts for Mountain time zone stations By 1530 MDT
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning Event-driven
Spot Forecasts On request

D. Red Flag Events

Interagency Coordination: Before the issuance of a Red Flag Warning, there will be coordination with the affected agencies and neighboring NWS fire weather offices in order to assess fuel conditions and general fire danger. This coordination will conducted either during the internet briefing and/or a separate phone call.

Dissemination of Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings: Each issuance, update or cancellation of a Fire Weather Watch or Red Flag Warning will be relayed by telephone to the dispatch offices and GACCs affected by the watch or warning.

Criteria for Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches:

High to extreme fire danger in conjunction with dry fuels (dryness level yellow or brown as defined by the Eastern Great Basin Geographic Coordination Center 7 day Fire Potential Outlook and/or agency input)

http://gacc.nifc.gov/egbc/outlooks.php and/or http://199.141.1.20/fuels/egb/public/

in combination with the following weather conditions:

  • Abundant lightning: Aerial coverage must be at least scattered (>25%) in nature.
  • Wind gusts > 30 mph for 3 hours or more; and relative humidity  <15%...EXCEPT > 25 mph and RH < 15% in the Boise and Payette NFs.
  • Haines Index of 6 for fire weather zones 400, 401, 402, 403, and 404 (Forest Service Zones).

Verification of Red Flag Warnings: NWS Boise will locally archive all Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings automatically. Statistically derived values of Probability of Detection (POD), False Alarm Rate (FAR), and Critical Success Index (CSI) will be calculated. These scores will be available to the Boise MIC, NWS Western Region Headquarters, and local customers including the EGBCC meteorologists during post-season meetings from November through January.

WFO Boise Fire Weather Zones

Boise Weather fire zones

Flagstaff

NWS FLAGSTAFF WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE

1. Changes for 2012 Season

See Main section of AOP for overall program changes.

2. Hours of Operation

Staff meteorologists will be on duty and available at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Forecast issued twice a day NLT 0730 and 1530 MST. (during the fire season)

Forecast issued once a day NLT 0730 MST. (outside of the fire season)

3. Staff and Contact Information

See Appendix B.

4. Fire Weather Services

A. Description of Flagstaff Fire Weather District within Eastern Great Basin:

  • Arizona Fire Weather Zones
    • Zone 104 – Kaibab Plateau, excluding the Kaibab NF
    • Zone 105 – Marble and Glenn Canyons north of Colorado River

B. Basic Meteorological Services

Spot Forecasts: Requests for spot forecasts will be received via the Flagstaff Fire Weather homepage found at: http://spot.nws.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/spot/spotmon?site=fgz

C. Product Schedule

Morning Fire weather forecast By 0730 MST
Afternoon fire weather forecast By 1530 MST
NFDRS point forecasts By 1500 MST
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning Event-driven
Spot Forecasts On request

D. Red Flag Events

Red Flag Criteria: All three of the following criteria must occur simultaneously for 3 hours.

A. Sustained 20-ft winds of 20 mph or greater and/or gusts of 35 mph or greater.

B. Relative humidity of 15 percent or lower.

C. A fire danger rating of high, very high or extreme.

Interagency Coordination: Before the issuance of a Red Flag Warning, there will be coordination with the affected agencies and neighboring NWS fire weather offices in order to assess fuel conditions and general fire danger.

Dissemination of Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings: Each issuance, update or cancellation of a Fire Weather Watch or Red Flag Warning will be relayed by telephone or fax to the dispatch office(s) and GACCs affected by the watch or warning.

Criteria for Red Flag Events: Standard criteria have been developed for the Great Basin and can be found starting on page 8. However, local criteria specific to an area may be used in addition to the standard criteria.

WFO Flagstaff Fire Weather Zones

Flagstaff Weather fire zones

Grand Junction

NWS GRAND JUNCTION WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE

1. Changes for 2013 Season

In 2012 a fire weather briefing page was added to the WFO Grand Junction web page to provide another source of information to customers and IMETs working in Grand Junction’s area.  A significant update to the briefing page is planned for 2013. 

2. Hours of Operation

Depending on variables such as fuel parameters and customer need, a dedicated fire weather forecast shift will be manned:

4/2 through 4/30:           0700-1600 MDT,
Forecast issued once a day NLT 1530 MDT for Colorado area.

5/1 through 10/27:         0700-1600 MDT.
Forecasts issued twice a day, NLT 0800 and 1530 MDT, for Utah and Colorado areas.

Staff fire weather meteorologists will be on duty and available at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 day a year.

3. Staff and Contact Information

See Appendix B.

4. Fire Weather Services

A. Description of Grand Junction Fire Weather District within Eastern Great Basin:

The Grand Junction NWS Office County Warning Area (CWA) includes the following eastern Utah Fire Zones: 485, 486, 487, 490 and 491. Through an agreement with the land management agencies and Salt Lake City, WFO Grand Junction also issues the Fire Weather Planning Forecast, Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches for fire zones 481, 482, 483, and 484.  Through the same agreement, the Fire Weather Planning Forecasts, Red Flag Warning and Fire Weather Watches for southeast Utah, zones 490 and 491, with be issued by WFO Salt Lake City.

Thus, WFO Grand Junction will issue the Fire Weather Planning Forecast (FWF) for the following zone group:

  • Northeast Utah (Uinta IFC)
    • Zone 481 – Western Ashley National Forest
    • Zone 482 – Western Uintah Basin
    • Zone 483 – Southern Ashley National Forest
    • Zone 484 – Tavaputs Plateau
    • Zone 485 – Eastern Ashley National Forest
    • Zone 486 – Eastern Uintah Basin
    • Zone 487 – Book Cliffs

Please see the map at the end of this section.

B. Spot Forecasts

The Grand Junction office prepares spot weather forecasts for prescribed burns and wildfires as requested for locations within the office’s County Warning Area.  Even though FWF, warning, and watch responsibilities for eastern Utah are split between the Salt Lake City and Grand Junction offices, WFO Grand Junction retains the responsibility to issue spot forecasts for all of its eastern Utah CWA area, including all spots requested within zones: 485, 486, 487, 490 and 491.  WFO Salt Lake City will issue spot forecasts for fire zones 481, 482, 483 and 484.
              
The primary means of requesting and disseminating spot forecasts is the NWS Spot Internet-based spot request and reply program, found at:

http://spot.nws.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/spot/spotmon?site=gjt

To ensure receipt by the fire weather forecaster, the requester should call the NWS after submitting each spot request.  This call will serve two purposes: to confirm receipt of the request and provide an opportunity for the requester or the fire weather forecaster to ask questions.  The forecaster will also be able to advise the requester of a possible delay in completing the forecast due to multiple spot requests.  The fire weather forecaster will provide the same courtesy by calling the requesting agency after completing each spot forecast.

It is strongly recommended spot forecasts for prescribed burns NOT be requested between 1100 and 1500.  This is a key fire weather and public forecast preparation period.  Completion of spot forecasts for non-wildfires that are requested during this period will be delayed until after these key public and fire weather forecasts are completed.

At the beginning of a project, observations from a nearby RAWS site may be used for the INITIAL spot request.  Unless the RAWS site is physically located on the burn project, all further spot requests must include weather observations taken by on-site personnel or other on-site instrumentation.

C. Product Schedule

Morning Fire weather forecast NLT 0800 MDT
Afternoon fire weather forecast NLT 1530 MDT
NFDRS point forecasts NLT 1545 MDT
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning Event-driven
Spot Forecasts On request

D. Red Flag Events

Northeast Utah Zones:  WFO Grand Junction issues Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches for the following northeast Utah fire zones, including 3 zones within WFO Salt Lake City’s forecast area:

Zone 481 – Western Ashley National Forest
Zone 482 – Western Uintah Basin
Zone 483 – Southern Ashley National Forest
Zone 484 – Tavaputs Plateau
Zone 485 – Eastern Ashley National Forest
Zone 486 – Eastern Uintah Basin
Zone 487 – Book Cliffs

Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches for southeast Utah, Zones 490 and 491 are issued by NWS Salt Lake City.

Interagency Coordination: Before the issuance of a Red Flag Warning, there will be coordination with the affected agencies and neighboring NWS fire weather offices to assess fuel conditions and general fire danger.  Coordination of fuel conditions will be accomplished by accessing the GACC fuels page and from GACC/NWS conference calls.

E. Smoke Management Forecast

A Graphical Utah Clearing Index Forecast is available in the fire weather sections of the Grand Junction and Salt Lake City web pages.

F. Incident Meteorologists (IMET)

The Grand Junction office has one or two certified IMETs available for dispatch to major forest fires and incidents. Dispatch for significant prescribed burn projects will only be possible when coordination with the fire weather program leader and WFO Meteorologist-in-Charge (MIC) is accomplished well in advance (i.e., months in advance) of the project and only when NWS manpower and resources permit.

WFO Grand Junction Fire Weather Zones

Grand Junction Weather fire zones

Las Vegas

NWS LAS VEGAS WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE

1. Changes for 2012 Season

None

2. Hours of Operation

Staff meteorologists are on duty at WFO Las Vegas 24 hours a day throughout the year. 
Scheduled dates and times for the Fire Weather Planning Forecast and NFDRS forecasts are:

5/1 through 10/31:         Planning Forecast issued twice daily at 0700 and 1500 PDT. 
NFDRS forecast issued by 1530 PDT.
Off season:                  Planning Forecast issued once daily at 0700 local time. 

Depending on variables such as fuel parameters and customer need, seasonal Fire Weather dates may begin earlier in the season or continued later in the season.

3. Staff and Contact Information

See Appendix B.

4. Fire Weather Services

A. Description of Las Vegas Fire Weather District within Eastern Great Basin:

  • Arizona Fire Weather Zones in Eastern Great Basin:
    • Northern Zone 101 – Lake Mead
    • Northern Zone 102 – Northwest Plateau (Arizona Strip) and Northwest Deserts

See map at end of this section.

B. Basic Meteorological Servcies

Spot Forecasts: Requests for spot forecasts will be received via the Las Vegas Fire Weather homepage found at: http://spot.nws.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/spot/spotmon?site=vef

C. Product Schedule

Morning Fire weather forecast NLT 0700 MST
Afternoon fire weather forecast NLT 1530 MST
NFDRS point forecasts NLT 1530 MST
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning Event-driven
Spot Forecasts On request

D. Red Flag Events

Interagency Coordination: Before the issuance of a Red Flag Warning, there will be coordination with the affected agencies and neighboring NWS fire weather offices to assess fuel conditions and fire danger.

Dissemination of Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings: Each issuance, update or cancellation of a Fire Weather Watch or Red Flag Warning falling between normal narrative forecast issuance times will be relayed by telephone to the dispatch office(s) and GACC affected by the watch/warning.

Criteria for Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches:

Fuels are critical and sustained winds greater than or equal to 20 mph or gusts greater than or equal to 35 mph for 3+ hours and relative humidity less than or equal to 15% OR Dry Thunderstorms with areal coverage of widely scattered or greater (>15%) in a fire weather zone.

E.    Smoke Management Forecast

Mixing Height, Transport Winds and Ventilation Category are provided for each zone in the fire weather planning forecast. That information is provided for a single point in each zone with that point noted at the end of the fire weather planning forecast. 

F.    Incident Meteorologists (IMETs)

The Las Vegas office has one certified IMET available for dispatch to major fires and incidents. Dispatch for significant prescribed burn projects will only be possible when coordination with the fire weather program leader and WFO Meteorologist-in-Charge (MIC) is well in advance (i.e., months in advance) of the project and only when NWS manpower and resources permit.

WFO Las Vegas Fire Weather Zones

Las Vegas Weather fire zones

Pocatello

NWS POCATELLO WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE

1. Changes for 2013 Season

Fire Weather Zone boundaries in South Central Idaho have been reconfigured. These will affect portions of the Twin Falls BLM District and the Sawtooth Forest including Fire Weather Zones 422(477), 425(409), and 427(412). The new zone boundaries can be seen in the map in paragraph 4 below.  See Main section of AOP for overall program changes.

2. Hours of Operation

Staff meteorologists are on duty at WFO Pocatello 24 hours a day throughout the year. Concerns about current or developing weather conditions may be discussed anytime. Scheduled dates for issuance of the Fire Weather Planning Forecast and NFDRS forecasts are:

Second Monday in May: Forecast issued once a day NLT 0700 MDT.

Second Monday in June through Last Friday in October: Forecast issued twice a day NLT 0700 and 1530 MDT.

Depending on variables such as fuel parameters and customer need, seasonal Fire Weather dates may begin earlier in the season or continue later in the season.

3. Staff and Contact Information

See Appendix B.

4. Fire Weather Services

A. Description of Pocatello Fire Weather District:

  • East Central Idaho Mountains
    • Zone 475: East Salmon River Mountains/Salmon N, includes western half of Salmon-Challis NF and portions of Idaho Falls BLM District.
    • Zone 476: Lemhi and Lost River Range/Challis NF, includes eastern half of Salmon-Challis NF and portions of the Idaho Falls BLM District.
    • Zone 422: Sawtooth Range/Northern Sawtooth NF: includes the Sawtooth NRA.
  • Upper Snake River Plain
    • Zone 425: Middle Snake River Valley/Twin Falls BLM: Includes Twin Falls BLM District north of the Snake River, Minidoka NWR, and Craters of The Moon NM.
    • Zone 410: Upper Snake River Valley/Idaho Falls BLM, includes Northeast portion of Idaho Falls BLM District, Camas NWR, Idaho State Land Department – Cotton Protective District, southeastern Birch Creek and Little Lost River Valleys.
  • Upper Snake Highlands
    • Zone 411: Centennial Mountains and Snake River Range/Targhee NF, Caribou-Targhee NF north of Palisades Reservoir excluding eastern slopes of Lemhi Mountain Range.
  • Southeast Idaho Highlands
    • Zone 427: Goose Creek and Raft River Valley/Southern Sawtooth NF: Includes the southern portion of the Sawtooth NF, and portions of the Twin Falls BLM District south of the Snake River.
    • Zone 413: Caribou Range/Caribou NF, Caribou-Targhee NF south of Palisades Reservoir, portions of Idaho Falls BLM District east of Snake River, Grays Lake NWR, and Bear Lake NWR.

B. Basic Meteorological Services

Spot Forecasts: Requests for spot forecasts will be received via the Boise Fire Weather homepage found at: http://spot.nws.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/spot/spotmon?site=pih

C. Product Schedule

Morning Fire weather forecast By 0700 MDT
Internet Briefing At 0900 MDT
  • Weekly in June (Monday)
  • Bi-weekly July (Monday, Thursday)
  • Daily in August, September
  • Bi-weekly in October (Monday, Thursday)
Afternoon fire weather forecast NLT 1530 MDT
NFDRS point forecasts NLT 1545 MDT
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning Event-driven
Spot Forecasts On request

 

D. Red Flag Events

Interagency Coordination: Before the issuance of a Red Flag Warning, there will be coordination with the affected agencies in order to assess fuel conditions and general fire danger. The Critical Fuels Status page maintained by Predictive Services serves as a primary source of fuels information. The 7-Day Fuel Dryness product issued by Predictive Services will be used in parallel with the Critical Fuels Status page this year for comparison.

Dissemination of Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings: Each issuance, update or early cancellation of a Fire Weather Watch or Red Flag Warning will be relayed by telephone to the dispatch office(s) and GACC affected by the watch/warning. For Red Flag Warnings that run their stated valid time and expire between 600 pm and 600 am local time, a single notification call will be made to Eastern Great Basin Coordination Center Predictive Services who in turn will notify the appropriate on-call number.

Criteria for Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches:

Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings are issued for conditions of very high or extreme fire danger (as determined by land management agencies) and dry fuels, in combination with one of the following:

  1. Widely scattered or greater (15% or greater aerial coverage) thunderstorm activity, even if precipitation is expected to exceed 0.10 inch of rain.
  2. Winds gusts for any three or more hours greater than 25 mph for Southeast Idaho Mountains, greater than 30 mph for the Snake River Plain and relative humidity is 15 percent or lower.
  3. In the judgment of the forecaster, weather conditions will create a critical fire control situation. These conditions may include strong microburst winds, passage of a cold front or a strong wind shift.

WFO Pocatello Fire Weather Zones

Pocatello Weather fire zones

Riverton

NWS RIVERTON WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE

1. Changes for 2013 Season

The Multimedia Fire Weather Briefings will be conducted on an event driven basis and will be announced by a heads-up email where the link will be provided.

2. Hours of Operation

Depending on variables such as fuel parameters and customer need, seasonal Fire Weather Hours of Operation will be:

5/1 through 10/31: Forecast issued twice a day NLT 0700 and 1500 MDT.

Staff meteorologists will be on duty and available at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

3. Staff and Contact Information

See Appendix B.

4. Fire Weather Services

A. Description of Riverton Fire Weather District:

  • Great Basin Fire Weather zones
    • Zone 414: Bridger-Teton NF and surrounding mountains in Lincoln County and Sublette County west of Highway 189/191.
    • Zone 415: Bridger-Teton NF in extreme western Fremont County and southwest Park County, Teton County excluding the Targhee NF and extreme northwest Sublette County.
    • Zone 416: Bridger-Teton NF and surrounding mountains in Sublette County east of Highway 189/191 and a small portion of Fremont County west of South Pass.

See map at end of section.

B. Basic Meteorological Services

Spot Forecasts: Requests for spot forecasts will be received via the Boise Fire Weather homepage found at: http://spot.nws.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/spot/spotmon?site=riw

C. Product Schedule

Morning Fire weather forecast By 0700 MDT
Afternoon fire weather forecast NLT 1500 MDT
NFDRS point forecasts NLT 1545 MDT
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning Event-driven
Spot Forecasts On request

D. Red Flag Events

Interagency Coordination: Before the issuance of a Red Flag Warning, there will be coordination with the affected agencies and neighboring NWS fire weather offices in order to assess fuel conditions and general fire danger.

Dissemination of Fire Weather Watches and Red Flag Warnings: Each issuance, update or cancellation of a Fire Weather Watch or Red Flag Warning will be relayed by telephone to the dispatch office(s) and GACC affected by the watch/warning.

Criteria for Red Flag Warnings and Fire Weather Watches:

Standard criteria have been developed for the Great Basin and can be found starting on page 8. However, local criteria specific to an area may be used in addition to the standard criteria. For Riverton, Red Flag Criteria will be Wind Gusts ≥ 25 mph for any 3+ hours and Relative Humidity of ≤15%, or for Dry Thunderstorms with an areal coverage of widely scattered or great (≥15%) in a Fire Weather Zone or for widely scattered wet and dry thunderstorms (LAL of 3 or greater) over exceptionally dry fuels (as determined by our partners).

 

WFO Riverton Fire Weather Zones

Riverton Weather fire zones

Salt Lake City

NWS SALT LAKE CITY WEATHER FORECAST OFFICE

1. Changes for 2013 Season

    During the fire season, Mondays at 1100 MDT, and prior to significant fire weather events impacting the Utah region, a fire weather briefing will be recorded and posted on YouTube.

    Four Fire Weather Zones in Utah have been renamed according to the requests of land management authorities. Three of these zones are in the WFO SLC CWA and one is in the WFO GJT CWA.

    • WFO SLC FWA
        Zone 484 - Formerly “Western Book Cliffs” is now “Tavaputs Plateau”
        Zone 488 - Formerly “Manti-La Sal National Forest” is now “Manti National Forest”
        Zone 494 - Formerly “Canyonlands” is now “Henry Mountains
    • WFO GJT FWA
        Zone 487 - Formerly “Eastern Book Cliffs” is now “Book Cliffs”

    There will be no scheduled GoToMeeting briefings.   They will still be held on an event-driven basis.

    2. Hours of Operation

    Depending on variables such as fuel parameters and customer need, seasonal fire weather hours of operation will be:

          4/29 through 10/25:  0700-1600 MDT,
          Forecast issued twice daily, NLT 0700 and 1500 MDT.

    Staff meteorologists will be on duty and available at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

    3. Staff and Contact Information

    See Appendix B.

    4. Backup Operations

    On occasion, SLC may be unable to perform normal operations. In this event, WFO Grand Junction, CO (GJT) will serve as SLC’s primary backup and WFO Pocatello, ID (PIH) will serve as secondary backup.

    5. Fire Weather Services

    A. Description of Salt Lake City Fire Weather District:

    The WFO SLC will produce SPOT and NFDRS forecasts for their CWA which includes the following zones:

    Zone 478, “Salt Lake Desert”. This zone includes the Great Salt Lake Desert and the Wasatch Front from Nephi to the Idaho border. 
    Zone 479, “Wasatch Mountains”. This zone includes the Wasatch Mountains, Wasatch Mountain Valleys, the Cache Valley and the Bear River Valley along the Wyoming border.
    Zone 480, “Uinta Mountains”. This zone includes the north slopes of the Uinta Mountains in Summit County.
    Zone 481, “Western Ashley National Forest”. This zone includes the south slopes of the Uinta Mountains in Duchesne County.
    Zone 482, “Western Uintah Basin”.  This zone includes the western portion of the Uintah Basin in Duchesne County.
    Zone 483, “Southern Ashley National Forest”. This zone includes the Ashley National Forest in extreme eastern portion of Wasatch County and southwest Duchesne County.
    Zone 484, “Tavaputs Plateau”. This zone includes the Tavaputs Plateau and the western portion of the Book Cliffs.
    Zone 488, “Manti National Forest”. This zone includes the northern portion of the central mountains, otherwise known as the Wasatch Plateau. This area is mostly contained within Sanpete County.
    Zone 489, “San Rafael Swell”. This zone includes Castle Country and the San Rafael Swell.
    Zone 492, ”Central Utah West Desert”.  This zone includes the west desert of Juab and Millard Counties, as well as the northern half of the Sevier Valley.  
    Zone 493, “Central Utah Mountains”. This mountainous zone lies mainly within the counties of Sevier and Piute, as well as the western portion of Wayne County.
    Zone 494, “Henry Mountains”.  This zone includes the Henry Mountains, northwest portion of Canyonlands, and the eastern portion of Capitol Reef National Park.
    Zone 495, “Color Country West Desert”. This zone includes most of the lower elevations of Iron and Beaver Counties.
    Zone 496, “Color Country Mountains”. This zone includes the higher terrain of southwest Utah from the Pine Valley Mountains, eastward to Boulder Mountain, and the western portion of Capitol Reef National Park.
    Zone 497, “Mojave Desert”. This zone includes the northern portion of the Arizona Strip, within Washington County, Utah.
    Zone 498, “Grand Staircase”. This zone includes the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Kane and southern Garfield Counties, as well as the Lake Powell region.

    The WFO SLC will produce Red Flag Warning (RFW) and Fire Weather Planning Forecasts (FWF) for the following zones:

    Northern Utah (Northern Utah IFC)

    Zone 478 – Salt Lake Desert
    Zone 479 – Wasatch Mountains
    Zone 480 – Uinta Mountains

    East Central Utah (Moab IFC)

    Zone 488 – Manti National Forest
    Zone 489 – San Rafael Swell
    Zone 490 – Colorado River Basin - This zone contains the low elevations surrounding the Colorado River  between the Colorado-Utah border and Moab.
    Zone 491 – Southeast Utah - This zone includes all of southeast Utah from Lake Powell eastward to the Colorado border, and north to about the latitude of Moab.


    West Central Utah (Richfield IFC)

    Zone 492 – Central Utah West Desert
    Zone 493 – Central Utah Mountains
    Zone 494 – Henry Mountains

            
    Southwest Utah (Cedar City IFC)

    Zone 495 – Color Country West Desert
    Zone 496 – Color Country Mountains
    Zone 497 – Mojave Desert
    Zone 498 – Grand Staircase

    See map at the end of section.

    B. Basic Meteorological Services

    The following services are provided to Land Management Agencies in the state of Utah: 
               
    GoToMeeting: During fire season, GoToMeeting Web-based briefings will be hosted for event driven cases only. These event driven meetings will be scheduled via e-mail with a one day advance notice when possible. These verbal and visual briefings will include a general discussion of weather conditions and forecasts for the current day, as well as brief discussion of the extended period. A pre-set group of images consisting of model data, satellite and radar loops, GFE forecasts and/or observations utilizing AWIPS graphics via DVI2USB connections, and other items of interest will be addressed for the forecast period.

    The GoToMeeting is intended to be less than 10 minutes, but may be longer during complex scenarios.

     
    YouTube Briefings: During the fire season, Mondays at 1100 MDT, and prior to significant fire weather events impacting the Utah region, a fire weather briefing will be recorded and posted on YouTube.   Notification that a YouTube presentation is available will be accomplished via e-mail.  The briefings may also be highlighted on WFO SLC Web pages.  The presentations will be updated as needed, and remain on YouTube for reference.

    Emergency Fire Weather Briefings:   During emergency situations when a Spot Forecast will take too long, please call for weather information.  Ask to speak with the fire weather forecaster on duty.  If a fire weather forecaster is not in the office, ask to speak with the Lead Forecaster.

    Routine Fire Weather Zone Forecasts: Disseminated via WIMS and our Fire Weather Web page twice a day from 4/29 through 10/25.  Issuance times are NLT 0700 MDT and 1500 MDT.  Times will vary according to the current weather situation/Spot Forecast workload, though every effort will be made to make the forecast available as soon as possible. The GACC Predictive Services Meteorologist or the Coordinator on Duty (COD) outside of the GACC operational hours will be notified of any updates
     
    Routine Smoke Management Forecasts: Disseminated once a day from 4/29 through 10/25.  Issuance times will usually be from 1100-1200 MDT depending on Spot Forecast workload.  Outside the normal burning season, the Weather Activity Planner, graphical Clearing Index, and/or the Utah Clearing Index may be used.

    Spot Forecasts: 
    Please utilize the web-based system on our homepage to request Spot Forecasts, found at:

    http://spot.nws.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/spot/spotmon?site=slc

    Fire Weather Watches/Red Flag Warnings:

    Dry Lightning or Low RH and Strong Winds:  Normally issued via our Fire Weather Web page and WIMS with the routine forecast package (NLT 0700 or 1500 MDT) and as a separate product.  Coordination calls are made as needed to EGB GACC and/or local dispatch centers to verify fuel conditions.  FMOs, FBAs, and Burn Bosses should make every effort to call the Fire Weather Forecaster on duty whenever there is any concern about critically dry fuels and/or severe fire behavior.

    Watches and warnings for these events will be based on the standard criteria set forth in this document, beginning on NWS Roles 1. Basic Services – B. Red Flag Warnings section. 

    Fuel Dryness and Lightning Probability Information:

    Experimental Fuel Dryness and Lightning Probability Information will continue in 2013. (See EGB GACC Roles - Operational Support and Predictive Services).

    Gridded Forecast Products:  The Point Forecast Matrix (PFM) is available and accessible via a radio button along the top of the Fire Weather Web page. This product is a tabular forecast. This seven day forecast is detailed for the first 72 hours, while the forecast information for days 4 through 7 contains fewer parameters and is of less temporal resolution.

    Any suggestions on how to improve any forecast services are very welcome; please email your suggestions or call the Fire Weather Program Leader, Mark Struthwolf.

    C. Product Schedule

    Morning Fire weather forecast By 0700 MDT
    Afternoon fire weather forecast By 1500 MDT
    Smoke Management Forecast By 1200 MDT
    NFDRS point forecasts By 1545 MDT
    Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning Event-driven
    Spot Forecasts On request

WFO Salt Lake City Fire Weather Zones

Salt Lake Fire Weather Zones

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Introduction/Changes for 2011
NWS Roles
EGBC Roles
Joint Roles
Dates/Signatures
Appendix A - WFOs