Effective on December 15, 2011, the National Weather Service office in Lake Charles, Louisiana, will reconfigure the current fire and public zone for Cameron Parish in southwest Louisiana. This reconfiguration will provide better forecast services by breaking up the parish into separate western and eastern fire and public zones due to the large meteorological, climatological, and geographical differences from west to east.

Cameron (LAZ051) Parish in southwest Louisiana is the largest parish in the state of Louisiana. A geographically elongated zone, the parish has a north to south extent of only around 20 miles, but a west to east extent of up to 80 miles. This leads to significant meteorological and climatological differences between western and eastern portions of this parish. For example, western sections of the parish can receive major impacts from a hurricane making landfall in southeast Texas, while eastern sections of the parish located up to 80 miles away may see only minor impacts. The majority of the population now resides in the north-central portion of the parish, with few residents elsewhere due to the extensive damage caused by Hurricanes Rita and Ike.
This proposal would split Cameron Parish into western and eastern zones, with a separation denoted by marine zone Calcasieu Lake (GMZ432). The proposed zone configuration would greatly reduce confusion that arises among NWS partners and customers concerning hazardous weather products, such as tropical cyclone, fire weather, and winter weather hazards. For example, tropical cyclone hazards currently encompass the entire length of the parish, even when the tropical cyclone is forecast to only impact the western portion. Confusion often results from the public in eastern Cameron Parish, who think they will see the same levels of high winds and storm surge as the western portion.  The proposed zone configuration would reduce this type of confusion among the public, as well as assist media partners in better describing the location and impacts of the hazardous weather. Emergency management would also see increased clarity in hazardous weather products, resulting in improved decision support services.
In addition, splitting this parish into two separate zones would yield a cleaner visual appearance and improved watch/warning continuity with surrounding counties/parishes on the internet and television.

Original Cameron Zone
Figure 1: The current/original fire and public zone for Cameron Parish

Proposed Cameron Zones
Figure 2: The proposed fire and public zone configuration, which will split Cameron Parish into two separate zones - West Cameron (LAZ073), East Cameron (LAZ074)

The following products will be affected by the zone changes, which are effective December 15, 2011:

Air Quality Alert Message AEUS74 KLCH AQALCH
Coastal Flood Product WHUS44 KLCH CFWLCH
Fire Weather Forecast FNUS54 KLCH FWFLCH
Fire Weather Message WWUS84 KLCH RFWLCH
Hazardous Weather Outlook FLUS44 KLCH HWOLCH
Tropical Cyclone Watch Warning Product WTNT/81-85/ KLCH TCVAT/1-5/
Hurricane Local Statement WTUS84 KLCH HLSLCH
Public Information Statement NOUS44 KLCH PNSLCH
Short Term Forecast FPUS74 KLCH NOWLCH
Special Weather Statement WWUS84 KLCH SPSLCH
Weather Message WWUS74 KLCH NPWLCH
Winter Weather Message WWUS44 KLCH WSWLCH
Zone Forecast Product FPUS54 KLCH ZFPLCH is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.