National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Central Alabama Fire Weather Support



Spot Forecast Guidelines


Site-specific (SPOT) forecasts are issued by WFOs in support of wildfire management, and natural resource management. These forecasts aid the land management and fire control agencies in protecting life and property during wildland fires, hazardous fuels reduction, and rehabilitation and restoration of natural resources. Spot forecasts are also issued for hazardous materials incidents and other threats to public safety.

Site specific (spot) forecasts are non-routine, near term (typically not more than 48 hours) products issued at the request of the user. WFOs will provide spot forecast service upon request of any federal, state, tribal, or local official who represents the spot forecast is required to support a wildfire.

For non-wildfire purposes, resources permitting, WFOs will provide spot forecast service under the following circumstances and conditions:

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.

WFOs will not provide spot forecasts to private citizens or commercial entities not acting as an agent of a government agency.

MICs and fire weather program leaders should coordinate with local users and establish local policies/procedures for the site specific spot services in their CWA or fire weather services area. These policies/procedures should be clearly defined in the SDM, and for fire weather applications, in the local AOP.

At or before the time of a spot request, the requesting agency should provide incident information: (lat,lon), topography and elevation (if needed), and a contact name(s) and telephone number(s) of the requestor (see section For spot requests supporting wildfires or prescribed burns, the requestor must also provide fuel type(s), size, and ignition time. Also, representative observation(s) at, or near, the site of the planned controlled burn, or wildfire, should be available to the responsible WFO prior to the issuance of the spot forecast(s).

In the case of a wildfire, or a prolonged controlled burn, land management personnel should provide updated observations and information to NWS during the course of the event.

Wildfires or large or complex prescribed burns may pose a higher threat to life and/or property than a severe thunderstorm, flash flood, or tornado. In these instances, the issuance of spot forecasts should be prioritized in a manner similar to that of short-fuse warnings.

User-defined forecast information for time periods beyond 48 hours should be supplied via the Weather Activity Planner. The Weather Activity Planner can be accessed on many NWS WFO websites. However, Weather Activity Planner data does not replace the need for a spot forecast.