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  Texas Fire Weather Operating Plan

NWS Weather Forecast Offices

Contents
Introduction
General Information
Forecast Products
Weather Parameters
Special Services
Forecast Offices
Glossary
RAWS/FTS Stations
Sample Narrative
Form D-1
National Agreement
Internet Links


Each NWS weather forecast office providing service in the state of Texas is staffed with meteorologists trained in fire weather forecasting around the clock, 365 days a year. This section will discuss the varieties of services provided by each NWS Office and the geographical areas for which NWS offices are responsible.

Questions or concerns regarding the policies outlined in this section should be directed to the fire weather program leader (FWPL) and/or the MIC of the respective NWS office(s) or contact...

Paul Witsaman, Fire Weather Program Manager
NWS Southern Region Headquarters
819 Taylor Street, Room 10E09
Fort worth, Texas 76102
Ph: 817.978.1100 x116
Pager: 817.723.5184

Additional details on specific services provided by a NWS office will be provided in the Local Area Operating Plan (LAOP) for that office.

 NWS Amarillo   
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Ken Schneider, Fire Weather Program Leader
Jose Garcia, Meteorologist-In-Charge
NWS Amarillo
1900 English Road
Amarillo, TX 79108

Phone: 806-335-1825

Forecast Area: The Amarillo Weather Forecast Office located in Amarillo has a responsibility of providing fire weather information for the following counties in the Texas Panhandle:

Armstrong Donley Hutchinson Potter
Carson Gray Lipscomb Randall
Collingsworth Hansford Moore Roberts
Dallam Hartley Ochiltree Oldham
Deaf Smith Hemphill Sherman Wheeler


Amarillo's Texas Fireweather Counties

Federal Land Management Agencies Served
  • National Park Service (Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument and Lake Meridith National Recreation Area)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge)
  • U.S. Forest Service (Black Kettle National Grassland, McClellan Creek National Grassland and Rita Blanca National Grassland)
Red Flag Criteria for the Texas panhandle are...

  1. A minimum relative humidity equal to or less than 20 percent,
  2. Average sustained wind speeds of 20 mph or higher,
  3. Temperatures of 60°F or higher,
  4. and 10-Hour Dead Fuel Moisture Contents of less than 5 percent (taken from the NPS Lake Meredith WIMS daily report).
The wind criteria is met when the public forecast (LBBZFPAMA) calls for winds of 15 to 25 mph or more. Another criteria for issuing RFW's is when there are ongoing wildfires in the Texas panhandle.

Fire Weather Products Issued
Fire Weather Forecast (product identifier LBBFWFAMA; WMO Header FNUS54 KAMA):
These forecasts will be issued routinely once a day at around 7 am. In addition to the required forecast parameters and information on any fire weather watches and red flag warnings in effect, the routine fire weather forecast offers forecast as an additional parameter.
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning (CHECK DATE) (product identifier LBBRFWAMA; WMO Header WWUS84 KAMA):
This is an event driven product which elaborates on the weather conditions which support extreme fire behavior. The information provided in this product should also be found in the routine fire weather forecast.
 NWS Austin/San Antonio   
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Monte Oaks, Fire Weather Program Leader
Joe Arellano, Meteorologist-In-Charge
NWS Austin/San Antonio
2090 Airport Road
New Braunfels, TX 78130

Phone: 830-629-0130

Forecast Area: The Austin/San Antonio Weather Forecast Office, located in New Braunfels, has a responsibility of providing fire weather information for the following counties in South Central Texas:

Atascosa Dimmit Kendall Travis
Bandera Edwards Kerr Uvalde
Bastrop Fayette Kinney Val Verde
Bexar Frio Lavaca Williamson
Blanco Gillespie Lee Wilson
Burnet Gonzales Llano  
Caldwell Guadalupe Maverick  
Comal Hays Medina  
Dewitt Karnes Real  


Austin/San Antonio's Texas Fireweather Counties

Federal Land Management Agencies Served
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge)
  • U.S. Forest Service (Amistad National Recreation Area and Lyndon B. Johnson and San Antonio Missions National Historical Parks)
Red Flag Criteria are...

  • Expected sustained 20 ft wind speeds of 15 mph or greater or 10 mph or greater if humidity is below criteria prior to a wind shift of 45 degrees or more, and/or
  • Minimum daytime humidity will be less than 25%, and maximum humidity recovery will be less than 60%.
Note: Since wind speed forecasts are based on 33 foot wind observations, the criteria for fire weather watches and red flag warnings should be adjusted to 20 foot by multiplying winds from surface reports (METARs) by 0.7. Other criteria include presence of dry lightning (LAL=6) and extremely low fuel moisture. Thunderstorms containing dry lightning combined with drought conditions could produce extreme fire behavior on days when winds and relative humidity are not at critical levels.

Fire Weather Products Issued
Fire Weather Forecast (product identifier SATFWFEWX; WMO Header FNUS54 KEWX):
These forecasts will be issued routinely either once or twice a day-first issued at around 7 am and updated around 330 pm during the dry season. Dry seasons are evaluated periodically by coordinating TICC to determine the necessity of an afternoon issuance. In addition to the required forecast parameters and information on any fire weather watches and red flag warnings in effect, these routine fire weather forecasts offer additional parameters for the selected cities of Austin, Del Rio and San Antonio. These parameters include LAL, maximum height of the mixing layer (feet AGL), mean transport wind speed (miles/hour) and direction in the mixing layer, and low level HI. These additional parameters are offered for the first weather day in the 7 am forecast and for the following afternoon in the 330 pm update.
 NWS Brownsville   
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Scott Cordero, Fire Weather Program Leader
Richard Hagan, Meteorologist-In-Charge
NWS Brownsville
20 South Vermillion
Brownsville, TX 78521-5798

Phone: 956-504-3184

Forecast Area: The Brownsville Weather Forecast Office located in Brownsville has a responsibility of providing fire weather information for the following counties in Deep South Texas:

Brooks Hidalgo Kenedy Willacy
Cameron Jim Hogg Starr Zapata


Brownville's Texas Fireweather Counties

Federal Land Management Agencies Served
  • National Park Service (Padre Island National Seashore)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Laguna Atascosa and Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuges)
Red Flag Criteria are...

  • Expected sustained 20 ft wind speeds of 20 mph or greater or 15 mph or greater if humidity is below criteria prior to a wind shift of 45 degrees or more, and/or
  • Minimum daytime humidity will be less than 35%, and maximum humidity recovery will be less than 70%.
Note: Since wind speed forecasts are based on 33 foot wind observations, the criteria for fire weather watches and red flag warnings should be adjusted to 20 foot by multiplying winds from surface reports (METARs) by 0.7. Other criteria include presence of dry lightning (LAL=6) and extremely low fuel moisture. Thunderstorms containing dry lightning combined with drought conditions could produce extreme fire behavior on days when winds and relative humidity are not at critical levels.

Fire Weather Products Issued
Fire Weather Forecast (product identifier SATFWFBRO; WMO Header FNUS54 KBRO):
These forecasts will be issued routinely once a day at around 7 am. In addition to the required forecast parameters and information on any fire weather watches and red flag warnings in effect, the routine fire weather forecast offers forecast precipitation amounts, maximum height of the mixing layer (feet AGL), mean transport wind speed (miles/hour) and direction in the mixing layer, and Keetch-Byram Index.
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning (CHECK DATE) (product identifier SATRFWBRO; WMO Header WWUS84 KBRO):
This is an event driven product which elaborates on the weather conditions which support extreme fire behavior. The information provided in this product should also be found in the routine fire weather forecast.
 NWS Corpus Christi   
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Mike Buchanan, Fire Weather Program Leader
Kenneth Graham, Meteorologist-In-Charge
NWS Corpus Christi
300 Pinson Drive
Corpus Christi, TX 78406-1803

Phone: 361-299-1353

Forecast Area: The Corpus Christi Weather Forecast Office located in Corpus Christi has a responsibility of providing fire weather information for the following counties in the Coastal Bend and Rio Grande Plains of South Texas:

Aransas Goliad Live Oak San Patricio
Bee Jim Wells McMullen Victoria
Calhoun Kleberg Nueces Webb
Duval La Salle Refugio  


Corpus Christi's Texas Fireweather Counties

Federal Land Management Agencies Served
  • National Park Service (Padre Island National Seashore)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Aransas National Wildlife Refuge)
Red Flag Criteria are for 20-Foot winds at or above 25 mph AND

Coastal Counties Inland Counties
Relative Humidities at or below 40% Relative Humidities at or below 30%
These combinations of low RH and strong winds have been determined to be critical to wildfire potential and growth across South Texas.
Also, a Red Flag Warning may also be issued if one of the following conditions occur...
  1. Any weather changes in the JUDGEMENT of the fire weather forecaster that would increase the fire danger, start new fires or present control problems to ongoing fires.
  2. 20-Foot winds at or above 25 mph along with a wind direction of Northeast. (Aransas County Only)
  3. Relative Humidities at or below 40% along with a wind direction of Northeast. (Aransas County Only)
Since most of the fuels which carry a fire in South Texas are 1-hour fuels (grasses), then antecedent moisture is not as important.

Fire Weather Products Issued
Fire Weather Forecast (product identifier SATFWFCRP; WMO Header FNUS54 KCRP):
These forecasts will be issued routinely once a day at around 8 am. In addition to the required forecast parameters and information on any fire weather watches and red flag warnings in effect, the routine fire weather forecast offers forecast precipitation amounts, expected duration of precipitation, likelihood of fog, maximum height of the mixing layer (feet AGL), and mean transport wind speed (miles/hour) and direction in the mixing layer.
Fire Weather Watch/Red Flag Warning (CHECK DATE) (product identifier SATRFWCRP; WMO Header WWUS84 KCRP):
This is an event driven product which elaborates on the weather conditions which support extreme fire behavior. The information provided in this product should also be found in the routine fire weather forecast.
 NWS El Paso   
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Tom Bird, Fire Weather Program Leader
Max Blood, Meteorologist-In-Charge
NWS El Paso
7950 Airport Road Santa Teresa, NM 88008

Phone: 505-589-4088

Forecast Area: The El Paso Weather Forecast Office located in Santa Teresa, NM has a responsibility of providing fire weather information for the following counties in Far West Texas:

El Paso Hudspeth    


Federal Land Management Agencies Served
  • National Park Service (Chamizal National Memorial Park)

El Paso's Texas Fireweather Counties
Red Flag Criteria

RFW criteria for the El Paso NWS office must conform to the following requirements from the Southwest Area Fire Weather Operating Plan...
  1. 20 foot wind speeds of 20 mph or greater,
  2. Relative Humidity of 15 percent or less, and
  3. NFDRS rating of HIGH or greater
Note: A separate RFW product is not issued. When conditions warrant the need for a RFW the scheduled Fire Weather Forecast will be headlined. If a RFW is deemed necessary after the FWF is issued, an updated FWF, with headlines, will be issued. The Gila and Lincoln Zone Dispatch Centers will be notified.

Fire Weather Products Issued
Fire Weather Forecast (product identifier LBBFWFEPZ; WMO Header FNUS54 KEPZ):

In season
(approximately May 1st - Oct 31st)
Off Season
(approximately Nov. 1st - Mar 31st)
These forecasts will be issued routinely twice a day-first issued around 930 am and again at around 230 pm. In addition to the required forecast parameters and information on any fire weather watches and red flag warnings in effect, the routine fire weather forecast offers forecast probability of a wetting rain, relative humidity, LAL, high-level HI, and 10000 foot winds (knots). The FWF is issued once daily around 930 am. The off-season format discontinues LAL and HI. Maximum height of the mixing layer (feet AGL), and mixing layer transport winds are added to aide in smoke dispersal decisions.
Special Spot Forecast Services:
The El Paso NWS office is set up with a special program enabling them to use the internet as their primary means of receiving, preparing, and returning Spot requests. These forecast have the advantage of being able to be viewed by any interested land management party.


Contents | Introduction | General Information | Forecast Products | Weather Parameters
Special Services | Forecast Offices | Glossary | RAWS/FTS Stations
Sample Narrative | Form D-1 | National Agreement | Internet Links
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