Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Framework for discussion of Red Flag Warnings and other Fire Weather Products issued by NWS WFOs (part 2 of 5)

Recall from my introduction to this series that I am writing a five-part series about Red Flag Warnings & other Fire Weather products from NWS WFOs. This is part two.

In parts three and four of this series, I will discuss fire weather operations used by my local  Weather Forecast Office (NWS), the NWS in Mt. Holly. Before I get to parts three and four, I need to begin by providing a basic framework for these later discussions of NWS Mt. Holly’s Fire Weather Operations. Before I go any further, I want to thank several new friends from various National Weather Service Weather Forecast Offices for listening to me and answering my questions. These articles would not be possible without their help.

1. I found the concept of fire regimes very helpful as I was researching these articles. Thanks to a friend who is a NWS meteorologist knowledgeable about wildland fires for referring me to the definition of fire regimes that I am using here. “An important concept in fire ecology that captures many interactions between fire and vegetation types, landscape settings and climate Zones is the fire regime. A fire regime can be thought of as a recipe made up of various interrelated components shaped by both vegetation and climate.; it can be defined as ‘the pattern of repeated fires expressed as a frequency, season, type, severity, and areal extent" (Fire on Earth: An Introduction by Scott, Bowman, Bond, Payne and Alexander, 2014, p. 125).

2. When considering the fire weather forecasting criteria used by each National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office (NWS WFO), remember that the Red Flag Warning Criteria and the Fire Weather Forecasts used by each NWS WFO is appropriate for the fire regimes and related weather conditions in each NWS WFO’s forecast area.

3. Each NWS WFO has a fire weather operations plan setting out the criteria they use for their fire weather operations. This plan follows criteria set forth by National Weather Service Directives under operations and services for NDS 10-4 Products and Services to Support Fire and Other Incidents. A document called NDS 10-4 Products and Services to Support Fire and Other Incidents provides a summary a list of all the procedural directives supporting fire and other incidents that may be found under NDS 10-4. The plan may be written by the individual WFO or it may be written by the State referring to the WFO in state. In some cases, there is a regional fire weather operation plan which refers to the individual fire weather operations plan for each WFO in the region. If you are interested in the fire weather operations for your local WFO look around on the NWS webpage for your local WFO for fire weather information.

4. In writing their Fire Weather Operations Plan (which includes but is not limited to the Red Flag Warning Criteria they use), each NWS WFO recognizes who is the core audience for their Fire Weather Operations Plan and customizes this plan as appropriate. As the WFO adopts or revises their Fire Weather Operations Plan and their Red Flag Warning criteria they will do so in collaboration with their core fire partner agencies (one example could be a State Forest Fire Agency)

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