|Fire Weather Spot Forecast Instructions
The main spot forecast page updates every minute and shows the location and status of any spot forecasts that have already been requested for today. These other forecasts can be viewed, as well as the most recent spot forecast requests.
Each request has its own webpage where all the information is displayed, including maps, information about the request and, eventually, the forecast. Sensitive information about the request (such as phone numbers, names of contact persons, and the exact location of the burn) are NOT visible by everyone – but only on the computer that made the original request and on NWS computers.
When you a new spot forecast is requested, information is provided in a web-based form that is similar to the D–1 form that had been commonly used. The information provided on the form is checked for consistency, and after completion, the NWS is notified of a new request and a new webpage is created for this burn.
Once a request is submitted, the webpage for the particular burn be viewed. The status of the request can be checked frequently. To view the webpage for any burn or wildfire, go to the main spot forecast webpage, click either on the name of the burn in the listing, or on the dot on the map for the burn. This page will also automatically update every minute; when new information becomes available, it is shown immediately. If errors are found in the request, forecast staff might send a question that will show up on this page. The question may be answered, or other changes made to the request from this webpage, but only from the computer where the original request was made. Since the forecast screen is automatically updated very minute, the forecast will be seen within a minute of it being issued.
When the forecast is complete, the page may be printed. From the main spot forecast page, other days can be viewed by using the calendar feature. This feature can be used to provide feedback on earlier forecasts, or to copy the information from one request to a new request for today.
If there are any questions or problems, staff are still available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by phone at 956-504-1432.
The dots on the map show locations of the burns, and the status of the spot forecast requests. Green squares indicate requests that are still pending. Purple squares indicate burns where questions have been asked. Red squares indicate burns where the forecast has been completed. Click on the dots on the map, or the list of spot names at the bottom of the page to view the individual webpage for each request.
The arrow buttons next to the date can be used to view spot requests from other days, or the Calendar can be used to move to other days more quickly.
To request a spot forecast, click on the button labeled "Submit a new Spot Request", and the Spot Request Form will appear.
The elements highlighted in red are required for NWS forecasters to complete the spot forecast. While the other items may not be necessary, they are very important for an accurate and useful forecast to be created.
The form is broken down into eight sections. Each section will be described as follows, below the image:
Use the buttons to indicate whether the fire is a Wildfire, WFU or Prescribed Fire. Prescribed fire is chosen by default when entering the form. For prescribed fires, indicate the ignition time and date using a 24 hour clock, and the time zone if necessary. The form defaults to an ignition time about one half hour in the future.
If possible, please specify the name of the 7 ½ minute USGS quadmap where the burn is located. NWS staff will check that against the legal or latitude/longitude location provided. The elevation, in feet, at the top and bottom of the burn should be entered in the "Elevation" boxes. If the burn is on flat ground, a value may only be entered in only one of the boxes. Enter the name of the nearest drainage in the "Drainage" box. This helps NWS staff better locate the burn when the legal or latitude/longitude location is ambiguous. Enter the slope aspect, such as NE or S (or possibly FLAT) in the "Aspect" box. This also helps better locate the burn. Finally, enter the size of the burn in acres in the "Size" box.
When the form is submitted, various checks are performed on the data. Some problems make it impossible for the request to be accepted – for example, a name was not entered for the burn). Others will produce warnings and messages based on incorrect information. If an error is found, an opportunity is provided to correct the form, or cancel the request. Once confident there are no more errors in the request, the request will be submitted and staff will be automatically notified. If there is time, consider a phone call in case something goes wrong on the web and staff is unaware of the request.
If our staff have questions about the request, a question may be sent back via the web interface. A big red box will appear on the forecast page with the question. Usually, there is some problem with the request that can be fixed easily. Use the links at the bottom of the page to change the request, or call our office.
When the forecast is complete, it appears in the spot forecast webpage automatically, and a box to provide feedback becomes available. Please provide feedback with how the forecast worked out, perhaps on the same day or within several days. This feedback helps our staff tremendously to improve the forecasts.
At the bottom of the forecast page are links for a variety of actions. Choose "Back to Spot List" to return to the monitor page. From the same computer where the original request was made, click on "Change Request" to change the details of the request, or "Delete Request" to delete the request. Click on "Copy Info to New Spot Request". This is helpful for burns that last over several days. Rather than re–entering the data in the form to get a new forecast, the e previous forecast can be viewed, and the location parameters copied to a new request. This will save some time filling out the request form.
Invariably, something will go wrong, and a request or receipt of spot requests may not be available via the webpage. In such cases, please fill out the paper version of the request form, call us to alert us of the request, and fax it to us at 956-982-1766. Our staff will fax the forecast when it is complete. This method should be used as a last resort. Spot Forecast Requests received via the webpage will be completed more quickly.