Georgia Fire Weather Services Operations Plan
Wildland Fire Agency Responsibilities
Operational Support and Predictive Services
The wildland fire 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
Land management 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.
The wildland fire 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. Wildland fire agency personnel may, with prior arrangement, visit a NWS office to acquire 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 weather service for a product to be faxed to the customer agency. NFDRS can be accessed through the WIMS website.
Fire Weather Observation Stations
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 Automated 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 indicate the county, and the last two digits indicate 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 DCP number, issued by the National Environmental Satellite Service (NESS)).
Observations from a satellite telemetered RAWS will automatically flow into WIMS via the NESDIS ID. Observations are only entered manually if the RAWS is a manual station. The RAWS owner currently 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, and save the observation to WIMS. This action is generally applied only to the daily 1300 hour observation.
As a part of the ongoing reprogramming efforts in WIMS, the change from R to O will soon be completely automated and a State of the Weather (SOW) will be computed (in part) from solar radiation data. Once that change is implemented, manual daily entry in WIMS will no longer be necessary for satellite telemetered stations. If a station is not satellite telemetered, the entire 1300 hour observation must be manually entered into WIMS. Non-NFDRS stations are naturally exempt from these procedures.
Even with automated conversion to O type observations, the responsibility still rests with the RAWS owner to ensure that observations are being transmitted, recorded, and archived properly in WIMS. The additional automation will 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 of O type observations 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.
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 that repairs are made in a timely manner. Owners of NFDRS stations can still (and should) correct any errors in their respective observations.
Training Personnel and Maintaining Sites
The responsibility of training observers will be with the user agencies. 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.
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.
Most items for taking and recording observations will be furnished by the user agency. The NWS will furnish a few select forms and/or charts upon request.