NWS Spot
Operating Instructions
For requesting and receiving Spot Weather Forecasts

Overview
NWS Spot is an Internet based interactive program available to all State, Federal, and other approved users who need Spot Weather Forecasts for prescribed burns and wildfires. It is also the new national standard for requesting and receiving text spot forecasts from the National Weather Service.

Access
Each NWS Internet home page has a clickable text line that brings up the NWS Spot request page. These access areas are available by clicking on the “Fire Weather” menu on the left side of each NWS main page. See figure below

Image of main page with fire weather link

You must use the NWS homepage that serves your area.
Counties served by the Milwaukee/Sullivan office include: Marquette, Green Lake, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan, Sauk, Columbia, Dodge, Washington, Ozaukee, Iowa, Dane, Jefferson, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Lafayette, Green, Rock, Walworth, Racine and Kenosha.

For other areas around Wisconsin please reference this page to determine which office you should request a Spot Forecast from.

Next after clicking on the Fire Weather link on the NWS Milwaukee/Sullivan main page, the Fire Weather page appears. It is from this page that you can directly access the NWS Spot Program. See figure below.

Image of Fire Weather Page

The main page for the NWS Spot then comes up and is shown in the figure below. Click on “Submit a new Spot Request” to input the details of your burn for the NWS forecaster. Make sure you have checked the latest NWS narrative forecast and have a recent observation from the fire site.

Image of Spot Forecast Request Page

Data entry is next. Figure 2 is the page where data entry is done.

Image of Spot Forecast Data Entry Page

The red items are REQUIRED so that NWS Spot can supply basic topo maps and so that you can update the request, ask questions, or provide feedback.

The items in red are REQUIRED. Although not shown in red, a recent and representative observation is required before a spot forecast request can be provided. The requests should be done through a dispatch center or staffed office. They will permit the forecaster to send the spot forecast efficiently through the Internet, rather than spending time on the phone reading the details. Plus, it will make coordination more effective. Field users may at times need to use cell phones from the fire site, but the NWS asks that contact be attempted first through the dispatch or office location.

For the location, enter latitude and longitude in decimal form. The NWS prefers lat/lon because the NWS can locate the fire site better on radar and satellite imagery. NWS Spot will convert the coordinates to a legal description when it processes the request.

You may request data for Today, Tonight, and Tomorrow by checking the boxes in the lower left corner. The NWS asks that you request no more than you actually need at the time to perform your work, since the more you request, the longer amount of time the forecaster needs to prepare a forecast. You can always go back later in the day and update your request.

So that the NWS may fully understand your needs, we may ask that you use the “Remarks” text box in the lower right hand corner to ask questions or to state any concerns or problems.

When your request is ready to send, click on the “Submit Request” button at the bottom of the page.

The program will send you back to the "request" page again.

Image of Spot Forecast Status Page

If you click on the name of your Spot request, the program will respond with a series of three maps and all data submitted. See figure below. Take time to look at the map. If you entered the lat and lon incorrectly, the maps show that.

Image of Spot Forecast site info page

Once the forecast has been initially sent, the word “PENDING” will appear in the status block. When the forecaster has completed and submitted the forecast, the word “COMPLETE” will appear in the status window.

You can also enter requests for spot requests for spot forecasts for other days, or check previous ones by using the calendar function. The arrow icons on either side of the date will take you to the nest or previous day. You can also look at the whole month by clicking on the word “CALENDAR” underneath the date. This will take you to the calendar page shown in the figure below.

Image of Spot Forecast calendar page

Summary

  • NWS Spot is the standard procedure for the NWS to process spot forecasts.
  • Remember to submit a recent and representative observation with your request.
  • Read the most recent fire weather narrative forecast before you send a request or before you call the NWS.
  • Call your servicing NWS office after you submit a request to make sure they have received it. You do not need to fax anything unless asked to do so. When a spot forecast request arrives at the NWS office, it alarms the forecaster at the workstation.
  • Expect a 20 to 30 minute delay between your spot forecast and the subsequent forecast reply.
  • Request only the items needed in order to speed up the turn around time for the forecast.
  • The NWS will not fax any forecast unless specifically requested to do so.
  • Submit requests through a dispatch center or other office that will have people on duty with whom the NWS can coordinate.
  • Requests can be made on the day before a burn. This will give the forecaster a chance to brief the evening or overnight shift. The user should then be able to get a forecast right away the next morning and minimize delays. However, the next morning, you will still have to provide the NWS with an updated and representative observation.
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