National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Instructions for Requesting a Web Based Spot Forecast


Following are descriptions of the information fields on the page:


1 - Project Name: Typically fires in the Western U.S. have names with respect to the river drainage basin they are in. If your fire has a name, go ahead and put it in. Otherwise, lets say the fire is 2 miles north of Wilmington, NC, enter 2N of Wilmington, NC.  Essentially put in something that you will be able to reference on the Spot Request Page because this is a required field.

  • Select the type of project (either a wildfire or a prescribed burn. Do not worry about what WFU is). If it is a prescribed burn, please enter in the Ignition Time (using the 24 hour clock) and Date. The form defaults to an ignition time in the future. If it is a wildfire, you do not have to worry about the default ignition time.


2 - Requesting Agency: The Requesting Agency name and phone number are required. Fax number and contact person are optional, but we consider those very important if we have any questions or if there is a breakdown in dissemination capabilities. You will only need to enter your agency name, phone/fax numbers, and your name the first time you request a spot forecast. After that, it will be filled in with the same information as your last request. Please note that no other people other than the user and the NWS will see this information!

3 - Location: You have a couple of options on this one, but they are important with respect to having the location appear on the map. Proper location data will give us detailed map information for the fire and the terrain in the area.

  • Enter the Latitude and Longitude of the fire (you can either specify degrees like 45.1486 or degrees/minutes/seconds like 45 13 34). For supplemental information you can reference the 7.5' USGS Quadmap, but you still need to provide the Lat/Lon.


  • Note: As of 4/8/02, the Legal Township/Range (T/R) section is mainly for locations in the Western Region of the National Weather Service, so inputting Lat/Lon information is the required method. The National Weather Service will be looking into this function for all areas in the country.


4 - Elevation: The top and bottom elevations of the fire are required. You can just enter the numbers and do not need to mention the word feet. If the burn or fire is on flat ground, you can enter a value in only one of the boxes.

  • Drainage is optional and once again references the river drainage basin the fire is in. If you know it, you can enter it. For example if the fire is near Conway, SC, you could enter Waccamaw River Basin, for the Waccamaw River which runs through Conway. Note that you will be flagged when submitting the request that if possible, we would like the drainage information. If you do not know it, go ahead and just submit the request anyway.

5 - Aspect: This field is required and important to know which side of a mountain the fire may be on. Use direction references such as N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W, NW. If the fire or burn is in flat terrain (as is usually the case across the Eastern Carolinas), you can type in the word FLAT.

6 - Size: Enter the acreage if known, but it is an optional field.

7 - Fuel: Please indicate the type of fuel, either using fuel model numbers, or a description of the fuel such as grass, ponderosa pine, etc. Also, if you can indicate the amount of fuel sheltering, it helps us tremendously in providing accurate wind forecasts.

8 - Observations: Although it is considered optional in the program, it is required to get a spot forecast from the NWS. Please enter in the information with respect to the observation. For each observation we need to know where it is in relation to the burn, the elevation in feet, and the time (preferably using a 24 hour clock). The wind (in mph) can be specified as N12 Gust 25 or something like that. The temperature and wetbulb values (in degrees F) should be entered and the RH (in percent) and Dewpoint (in degrees F) can also be entered if known, otherwise they will be calculated for you. Finally, any remarks about clouds, weather, or other important information should be entered in the final box.

9 - Primary Forecast Elements: Not all spot forecasts are created equal, so we are asking you to tell us what are the forecast elements you need, or are particularly important. There are six parameters listed for you. Select which ones you want a forecast for, and for the time period(s) you would like as well (available times are Today, Tonight, and Tomorrow).

10 - Remarks: If a meteorological parameter is not listed and you would like to have Haines Index for example, enter that information in the Remarks section. You can also enter in information with respect to when you might want the forecast, or any other information/input you can give to us with respect to the spot forecast request.

11 - Action: You now have three options. You can Submit Request, Cancel Request, or Clear Form. When you hit Submit Request, various checks are performed on the data you have entered. Some problems make it impossible for your request to be accepted (for example, if you forget to enter a name for the burn), while others will produce warnings and messages for your information. If an error is found, you will be taken to a page that describes the errors or minor problems.


You can click on Go Back and Fix and have the opportunity to make the necessary changes. You can click on Submit Request anyway, but more than likely we will probably be sending back a question or calling. You do have one more option and that is to Cancel Request.

  • After you have submitted a spot forecast request, an individualized spot forecast web page becomes available for that burn. The page automatically updates every minute so that as new information becomes available for the burn, you see it immediately. Detailed maps of the area around the burn are generated and displayed when they become available.


  • Once the forecast is COMPLETED and made available to you, the page will not update anymore. Thus if we have to update the forecast, we would be calling you to inform you of the upcoming change, since the page no longer updates or has a way to inform you that a change has been sent. When you go back into the forecast, the only way you might pick up on the changed forecast is at the top of the page it shows the time that the spot was requested and the time it was issued. The issue time will have changed. Keep in mind that "sensitive" information like your name, phone number, and the exact location of the burn are NOT visible to others - only to you and the NWS.


  • If we have questions about your request, we may send you back a question about it. If this happens, the Status Box will show the word QUESTION and the box on the map will turn purple. Click on this and you will see a big red box in the forecast page with our question. Usually there is some problem with the request that you can probably fix (use the CHANGE REQUEST link to do this, make your changes if necessary, then submit the request once again. The purple box will return to green and the word QUESTION will change back to PENDING) or you can call us.


  • When your forecast is complete, it will show up in the spot forecast web page (clicking on the red box in the map or COMPLETED in the Status Box can access the spot). On the forecast page a Feedback box will appear where you can provide us information with respect to how the forecast worked out, perhaps later in the day or several days down the road. This feedback helps us to improve. Simply type your feedback into the box and click on Send Feedback.


  • At the bottom of the forecast page are links for actions that you can take. For example, you can go "Back to Spot List" to return to the monitor page. If you are on the same computer where you made the original request, you can click on "Change Request" to change the details of your request. This is what you would do if we send you a question and you need to change some information. If you need to delete a request, simply click on "Delete Request".


  • You can also click on "Copy Info to New Spot Request". This is helpful for burns that last over several days. Rather than having to re-enter the data in the form to get a new forecast, you can view the previous spot request and then copy all the location parameters to a new request using this link. This will save you some time when filling out the request form.


  • Invariably, something will go wrong at some point, and you might not be able to request or receive spot requests via the web page. In such cases, you can call in or fax us the spot forecast.

Click here to go to submit a web based spot forecast request