Monday, July 04, 2016

NWS Mt. Holly Fire Weather Products Part 2 (part 4 of 5)

Today I continue with the second part of my interview with Lee Robertson, fire weather focal point for the National Weather Service (NWS), Mt. Holly NJ. This is part 4 of a 5 part series "about red flag warnings & other fire weather productions from NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs)." For those of you who are landing here, in part 2 of this series I provided a framework for discussion of red flag warnings and other fire weather products. The first part of my interview with Lee Roberts is presented in part 3, posted on July 1st.

As you continue reading my interview with Lee, please remember that fire weather operations in the NWS Mt. Holly are appropriate for the fire regime in the Mt. Holly Forecast Area. Further Mt. Holly’s fFire Weather Operations Plan is customized for their core audience (or partners). Mt. Holly Fire Weather Operations Plan that is available at under “additional fire weather information”

Q5. Random Ramblings: 6. Where does Mt. Holly get their observations from, I noted some observation sites on your fire weather page. And what is included. Can you add anything to what I can read in the sites linked to on your fire weather page?

Lee: Our observations come from a variety of places.  The main observation is Automated Surface Observation System or ASOS, which we use for everything from Aviation, to public forecasting.  There is the RAWS network which are the sites listed on our Fire Weather page.  There is also the Citizen Weather Observation Program aka CWOP network.  

Note: ASOS observations are available at This FAA website for ASOD observations (click on your State in the map). RAWS and CWOP observations are available at from this Mesowest website based in Utah, where you can select your state and then use a drop down box to select the observations you want to see (ASOS observations are also available at the same Mesowest website based in Utah where they are listed as “NWS”).

Q6. Random Ramblings: How often does Mt. Holly issue your Fire Weather Forecast (FWF) and if issued, your Red Flag Warnings?

Lee: We update our Fire Weather Forecast (FWF) twice daily; around 4 am and 4 pm.  This was changed from only 4 am several years ago to give an updated forecast to the next day for our fire weather partners.  When conditions are not representative to the forecast, such as relative humidity being much lower than forecast (for instance 20% occurring, versus 35% forecast) our forecasters should be updating the forecast.  Also, if a Red Flag Warning is issued, the FWF is to be updated as well.  

Q7. Random Ramblings: Can you briefly talk about the spot weather forecasts that Mt. Holly issues?

Lee: Spot Forecasts are requested by our Fire Weather partners when they need weather information for a specific locations when they are working individual fires.  Sometimes they request Spot Forecast for prescribed burns, other times they request Spots when an active wildfire is ongoing.  Other times, we do not get any requests from them because they are able to use the FWF and current conditions to suit their needs.  There is a website where they can request the Spot Forecast, and access the actual forecast output when we issue it.  Once they send their request, an alert pops up on our screen in our office and we work up our forecast, then send it out.  Depending on forecaster workload and other factors, once the request is issued, it can take as little as 5 minutes, sometime up to 15-20 minutes to show up on the website.  Our partners also have our number, so if there is a concern about the foreast or if they didn't get it, they can always call us.

On July 6th I will close out this series with some reflections on what I have learned while researching and then writing this series about red flag warnings & other fire weather productions from NWS Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs).

Other Articles in the series

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