NWS Spot Banner

fire weather icon Overview

NWS Spot is an internet-based interactive program available to agencies needing spot weather forecasts for prescribed burns, wildfires or any other hazardous incident.  It is the standard procedure for requesting and receiving spot forecasts from the National Weather Service (NWS). Telephone and fax exchange of information will continue to be provided when internet access is unavailable.

Access

To access the NWS Spot program on the NWS Melbourne web page, first click on the "Fire Weather" link located on the left hand navigation bar under the "Forecasts" section.  (Each NWS office has ready access to the NWS Spot program through their Fire Weather Page.)

The spot forecast page automatically refreshes at least once per minute, so as new spot forecasts are requested or if their status changes, you immediately see the changes on this page. We call this the Spot Monitor page.

The Spot Monitor page illustrates a map of the NWS Melbourne fire weather area of responsibility.  A small box will appear on the map indicating locations of previous spot forecast requests.  The box is color coded green to indicate if the spot forecast is pending, which means a spot request has been submitted, and a meteorologist at NWS Melbourne is working on the forecast.  A purple box indicates that the NWS has sent a question with respect to a spot forecast request.  A red box on the map means the spot forecast has been completed by NWS Melbourne and you can either click on the red box or in the Name/Ignition Time/Status box to see the forecast.  A link at the top of the Spot Monitor page will take you back to the NWS Melbourne Fire Weather page.

The Spot Monitor page also clearly indicates the current date with arrow keys allowing you to step back or forward to a particular date.  A calendar is also available, which will allow you to see how many spot forecasts were issued on a certain date. You can also move ahead or back on the calendar as well as clicking on a particular date to view information from that day.

Click on the "Submit a new Spot Request" link to create a new request for a Spot forecast and to input the details of your prescribed burn, wildfire or other incident for the NWS forecaster. Make sure you have read the latest NWS narrative forecast and if possible have a recent observation from the incident site if this is a current incident.

You will now be at the NWS Melbourne Spot Forecast Request page. The page illustrated below in figure 1 appears, into which you would enter the information for your location. The items in red are required.

 Figure 1 - The main data entry page. The red items are required.

 


Required Fields

Project Name - If your incident has a name, go ahead and put it in. Otherwise, use a combination of the nearest city or town and the distance from that location. For example, if the incident site is approximately 5 miles west of Apopka in Orange county. Then the fire name would be 5W Apopka.

Select whether the type of incident is a wildfire, prescribed burn or HAZMAT. If it is a prescribed burn, please enter the Ignition Time (using a 24 hour clock) and Date.

Requesting Agency - The requesting agency name and telephone number. Fax number and contact person are optional, but we consider those important if we have any questions or a breakdown in dissemination capabilities.

Reason for Spot Forecast - The requester of a spot forecast must provide the "REASON FOR THE SPOT FORECAST". The NWS cannot provide spot forecasts to private citizens or commercial entities not acting in a capacity as agent to a government agency.

Spot forecasts for WILDFIRES or HAZMAT will be provided to any federal, state, or local official who represents that the spot forecast is required to support an ongoing incident.

Spot forecasts for NON-WILDFIRE purposes will be provided for any of the following criteria:

a. Upon request of any federal official who represents that the spot forecast is required under the terms of the Interagency Agreement for Meteorological Services (NWS Instruction 10-406).

b. Upon request of any state, tribal, or local official who represents that the spot forecast is required to carry out their wildland fire management responsibilities in coordination with any federal land management agency participating in the Interagency Agreement for Meteorological Services (NWS Instruction 10-406).

c. Upon request of any public safety official who represents the spot forecast is essential to public safety, e.g. due to the proximity of population centers or critical infrastructure. A "public safety official" is an employee or contract agent of a government agency at any level (federal, state, local, tribal, etc.) charged with protecting the public from hazards including wildland fires of whatever origin and/or other hazards influenced by weather conditions such as hazardous material releases.

...IMPORTANT...

Location - Enter the Latitude and Longitude of the fire location. You can either specify:

Degrees in hundredths, in the following format example:   latitude 28.24   longitude -80.58

or

Degrees/minutes/seconds as in this format example:    latitude 27 48 34    longitude -80 34 05   (note the space between numbers.)

The NWS prefers to receive location information in latitude and longitude coordinates because it is easier to locate the incident location more precisely on our computer equipment.  However, you may also use a legal description of Township, Range and Section (TRS) format. 

If you enter the location in TRS format, follow this example: T39N R7E SEC8. The NWS Spot program will convert the TRS description to latitude/longitude when it is processing the request.

Proper location data will give us detailed information on the location of the fire and relation to bodies of water or population centers..etc..

Elevation -  If the burn or fire is on flat ground, you can enter a value in only one of the boxes, preferably the one labeled Top.

Drainage references the river drainage basin the fire is in. This field is optional, but the information would be helpful if known.

Aspect - The direction the slope (if any) faces. Use direction references such as N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW. If the fire or burn is in flat terrain, you can type in "FLAT".

Enter the size or acreage of the spot burn if known, however it is not a required field.

Observation - Although not shown in red, a recent observation should be provided. For each observation, we need to know its relation to the site of the prescribed burn or wildfire, the elevation in feet, and the time. The wind information can be specified as N12 gust 25 mph or West at 10 mph. Please specify the height off the ground at which your wind measurement was taken, i.e. eye level or 20 foot winds. The forecast will be for 20 foot winds.

The temperature and wet bulb values in degrees F should be entered, and the RH (in percent) and the Dew point (F) if known. Finally, any remarks about clouds, weather or other important information would be helpful.

Primary Forecast Elements - You may request data for Today, Tonight and Tomorrow by checking the boxes under "Primary Forecast Elements" in the lower left corner of the Spot Forecast Request page illustrated in figure 2 above. The NWS asks that you request no more than you actually need at the time to perform your work that day.

Remarks - If a meteorological parameter is not listed and you would like a forecast of that information, enter the request in the Remarks section. You can also ask questions or state any concerns or problems.

Action - You have three options. When your request for a forecast is complete, click on the "Submit Request" button at the bottom of the page. Various checks are performed on the data you have entered. If an error is found, you will be taken to a page that describes the error. You would then click on "Go Back and Fix" which would take you back to the Spot Request Forecast page. Correct any errors, and then click on the Submit Request button once again.

The "Cancel Request" will end your request. The "Clear Form" button will erase all your entries, enabling you to start over.

The spot request will alarm at the NWS - Melbourne fire weather forecaster's work station, but to ensure we received the request, please call us to ensure that the request was received. 

Once your request is submitted, the NWS Spot program will respond with a forecast page similar to the test page shown in figure 3 below:

 

 

WFOs cannot provide spot forecasts to private citizens or commercial entities who are not acting as an agent/contractor to a government agency.


Figure 2 - Request Feedback page

The forecast page will contain a series of three topographic maps, each at a different magnification level as well as all the data that you submitted.  Take time to look at the map and verify the location of the spot request.  Once completed by the NWS Melbourne fire weather forecaster, this page will display the forecasted elements you requested.

A feedback box will appear at the bottom of the page, enabling the user to provide feedback with respect to how the forecast worked out at a later date.  The user can also click on the "Back to Spot List" to return to the Spot Monitor page.

The user can also click on "Copy Info to New Spot Request".  This is helpful for spot burns over several days in the same area.  Rather than having to re-enter the data in the form to get a new forecast, the user can view the previous spot request and then copy all the location parameters to a new request using this link.  This will save you some time when filling out the request form.

Once the forecast has been initially sent, the word "PENDING" will appear in the status block on the request page.  The location of your fire will be designated by a small green square in the figure as below.  The ignition time and the name of the fire will also be shown.  All named fires for which forecasts have been requested will appear in the status list.

 

 


Figure 3 - Main page with completed (red) spot burn forecasts.

When the NWS - Melbourne fire weather forecaster has completed the spot forecast and sent it back, the word "COMPLETE" will appear in the status window of the main entry page, and a small red square will appear on the map illustrating the location as in figure 3.

On the main entry page, the arrow icons on either side of the date will take you to the next or previous day.

You can look at the entire month by clicking on the work "CALENDAR" underneath the current date on the main page. This will take you to the calendar page as illustrated in figure 4 below:

 

NWS Spot program calendar page
Figure 4 - Calendar page

You can send a preliminary request to the NWS Melbourne fire weather forecaster for a planned fire on a day other than the current day.  Click on the date you plan to burn, and you can go through the process of entering all required data.  You will not receive a tailored spot forecast.  All this does is alert the forecaster of upcoming projects. You will still need to request the spot and supply an observation from the burn site on the day of the burn in order to receive a spot forecast.

Once a forecast is completed and made available to you, the page will not update anymore. Thus, if the NWS Melbourne fire weather forecaster needs to update the forecast, we will call to inform you of the upcoming change.

If we have questions about your request, we may send you back a question about it.  If this happens, the Status Box on the Spot Monitor page will show the word QUESTION in purple, and the box on the map will turn purple.  Click on this and you will see a big red box in the forecast page with our question.  Answer the question, the resubmit the request once again.  The purple box will return to green and the work QUESTION will change back to PENDING.  To expedite the process, we may call you at the listed contact telephone number.

You are reminded that the existing fire weather narrative forecast is the source document for your planning until the morning of the ignition of a prescribed burn or until a wildfire is reported.

Summary Points

  • NWS Spot is the national standard procedure for requesting spot forecasts from the National Weather Service

  • Read the most recent Fire Weather Narrative Forecast before you send a request or before you call the NWS

  • Submit requests through a dispatch center or other office that will have people on duty with whom the NWS can coordinate.

  • A recent observation should be forwarded with your request if at all possible.

  • Request only the items needed.

  • Call the NWS Melbourne after you submit a request to make sure they have received it.

  • Expect a 15 to 25 minute delay between your spot forecast request and the subsequent forecast reply.

  • The National Weather Service Melbourne office can only process requests within our 10 county area of forecast responsibility (shown below).  If you are outside this 10 county area then refer to your local NWS office to obtain a spot forecast.

 

If you have any problems with the NWS Melbourne Spot program, please call our office, or John Pendergrast, Fire Weather Program Leader at 321/255-0212. You can also email John at john.pendergrast@noaa.gov.

 

 


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