Fire Weather Intelligence Portal NC Department of Agriculture NC Forest Service State Climate Office
The Fire Weather Intelligence Portal is designed to be a comprehensive monitoring tool for past, current and forecast weather and fire risk conditions.

This portal brings together a number of point-based and gridded data resources, including weather data from the ECONet stations operated by the State Climate Office of North Carolina and calculated NFDRS data for stations across the state.

The documentation on this page provides instructions for using the portal and tips for improving your experience on the page.
Contents
The Fire Weather Intelligence Portal works best in recent versions of Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Some features of the Portal (including gridded datasets and meteograms) are not supported in Internet Explorer 8 and any earlier versions. Point data can still be displayed on the map in these older versions, but users should update their browsers for optimal results.

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Just like your browser window might have tabs to view different web pages, the Fire Weather Intelligence Portal has tabs to view Past Conditions, Current Conditions, and Forecast Conditions. On each of these tabs, you can select an observation time, station-based point data, and/or a gridded dataset. You can view different times and datasets on each tab.

You can select a map location in a few different ways:
  • Zoom to a state
  • Zoom to a county
  • Custom zoom
When you re-submit the page, your chosen zoom location will be remembered and applied to the map.

On the Past Conditions tab, you can choose any date and time between January 1, 2002 and the current date.

On the Current Conditions tab, the most recent hour is shown. At 15 minutes past the hour, the new hour will "switch over"; e.g., at about 4:15 pm, the Current Conditions tab will stop showing data from the 3 pm hour and start showing data from the 4 pm hour. Shortly after this, the page will automatically reload the new hour's data. Also, every 10 minutes, the point data will reload so the most up-to-date information is always displayed.

Note that if you choose any point-based NFDRS parameters, the most recent 1 p.m. observations will be shown. So if it is before 1 p.m. today, the NFDRS data from yesterday will be shown.

On the Forecast Conditions tab, you can choose a time up to 72 hours in the future.

There are a few handy tools available when using the map:



  • Pan and zoom controls: You can click the arrows to pan around the map, or use the slider below it to change the zoom level. Note that you can also change the zoom level using the scroll wheel on your mouse.

  • Pan hand: As long as the "pan hand" is selected, you can move the map around just by dragging it with your cursor.

  • Draw-to-zoom box: If you select this tool, you can draw a box on the map and zoom in to that region.

  • Layer switcher: If you open up the layer switcher, you can change the map background (choosing from several Google Maps layers) and turn on/off county lines and HUC (hydrological unit) boundaries. The layer switcher is hidden when you first load the page, so to open it, you'll have to click the plus sign at the top right corner of the map.


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The available point data includes most parameters measured at weather stations, such as temperature and precipitation, and the National Fire Danger Rating System data that is derived from those parameters. Included below is information and notes about a few of these parameters.

The heat index is a measure of how hot it feels outside based on the air temperature and relative humidity. Heat index values will only show up for stations with a temperature at or above 80°F AND a relative humidity of at least 40%.

The wind chill temperature is a measure of how cold it feels outside based on the air temperature and wind speed. Wind chill values will only show up for stations with a temperature at or below 40°F AND non-calm winds.

At RAWS and most ECONet station, the 6 meter (20 foot) wind speeds and gusts are used. At other stations, the log wind profile method is used to estimate the 6 meter winds based on the 10 meter winds.

Only RAWS and ECONet stations measure solar radiation.

Only ECONet stations measure soil temperature and soil moisture. A related parameter, Saturation Index, is based on the soil moisture and porosity.

Point-based parameters such as KBDI, Burning Index, ERC, etc. are calculated according to the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS). Calculations are done once per day, based on the 1 pm (1300) observation, in WIMS.

While all stations in the Portal have data added to WIMS each day, NFDRS data will only appear for stations that are under the watchful eyes of Forest Service district rangers and other users.

When viewing point data on the map, you can click on any point to display a meteogram -- a graph of the weather history at that location -- at the bottom of the page. You can highlight a range of dates/times on the meteogram to zoom in to that period, and double-click on a zoomed-in period to zoom back out.

To change the parameter and time period displayed on the meteogram, use the "Meteogram Options" box to the top left of the meteogram.

A few meteogram parameters, including KBDI and Adjective Rating, have background shading to match the colors you're used to seeing for these parameters. ERC meteograms for many stations also have background shading that corresponds to station-specific Adjective Rating breakpoints. Also on ERC meteograms, the red line gives the maximum ERC value for each day of the year in that station's period of record.

You can investigate the data availability for a particular station using the Station Status page. You can use this page to diagnose whether stations have missing data over a particular time period, and view individual observations for each station. Data is available at the following timescales:
  • Monthly: For each month in a specified period, you can view the percentage of days with NFDRS data available . Click on a monthly percentage to view the daily observations for that station and month. This option will only show stations that are manually edited in WIMS.

  • Daily: For each day in a specified date range, you can view the percentage of hours with data available. Click on a daily percentage to view the hourly observations from that station and day.
In the grid of data availability, stations are sorted alphabetically by county.

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Gridded data sets from a number of different sources are available in the Fire Weather Intelligence Portal.

Note that in the legend below the map, you can change the opacity for gridded datasets between 50% and 100%.

On the Current Conditions tab, you can view active fire perimeters provided by the Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group (GeoMAC).

On the Current Conditions tab, you can view the latest watches and warnings issued by National Weather Service offices across the country. Click on any advisory to view more information about it.

Radar imagery -- indicating the location and intensity of precipitation -- is available on the Past and Current Conditions tabs. Infrared satellite imagery, which shows the presence of cloud cover, is available on the Current Conditions tab.

The "MPE: Precip. estimate" dataset lets you view an estimate of precipitation over a specified period. MPE stands for "Multi-sensor Precipitation Estimate", meaning its estimates are based on two sources: radar imagery and ground-based rain gauges. It is at approx. 5 km resolution.

Research at the State Climate Office shows that MPE data is often just as accurate as weather station rain gauge measurements, and it provides coverage over the entire state instead of just points where gauges are located.

The gridded lightning strike density data can give you an idea for the location and intensity of lightning strikes during the period you specify. This dataset is at approx. 5 km resolution.

Lightning strike density data is available for Current Conditions and Past Conditions since October 1, 2010.

The Standardized Precipitation Index, or SPI, is a commonly used drought index based on the precipitation over a selected number of months. Positive SPI values indicate wet conditions while negative SPI values indicate dry conditions.

The same precipitation data is used to calculate the Percent of Normal Precip. during a selected number of months. This gridded dataset is another good indication of recent wetness and dryness.

SPI and Percent of Normal Precip. data is at approx. 5 km resolution.

High-quality gridded analyses are available for air temperature, dew point and wind speed at 2.5 km resolution. These are from the Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA) dataset, which is produced by the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Protection.

Gridded analyses are available for Current Conditions and Past Conditions since May 5, 2013.

On the Forecast Conditions tab, you can view gridded forecasts from the National Weather Service's National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD). Available fields are air temperature, dew point, relative humidity, wind speed and cloud cover, all at approx. 5 km resolution.

The NDFD maps can sometimes look like an interesting patchwork, with obvious and seemingly unnatural boundaries between higher and lower values. This is often because each NWS office's forecast may differ slightly from the offices around it, so when all of their forecasts are assembled, there might not be smooth transitions between forecast areas.

NDFD data is available at three-hour intervals up to 72 hours in the future. If you choose a forecast hour for which NDFD data is not available, the closest hour with available data will be used.

The State Climate Office runs a version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) meteorological computer model four times per day. Select output from this model is available in the Portal, namely the air temperature and mixing height.

Model data is available up to 72 hours in the future and is at a 4 km gridded resolution.

The Southern High Resolution Modeling Consortium (SHRMC), based out of the University of Georgia, produces forecast maps of Lavdas Dispersion Index, Low Visibility Risk Index, mixing height, and Ventilation Index up to 72 hours in the future.

This gridded data is available at 12 km resolution, and new guidance comes out twice per day.

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By creating a custom URL string for the Fire Weather Intelligence Portal, you can select the location, dates and parameters that are shown on the page without ever changing any of the buttons or dropdown menus on the page.

Here's the best part: If you have particular fields and locations that you like to view often, you can bookmark the page's address with a custom URL string, effectively saving your preferred page view.

The instructions below explain how to set up a custom URL string:

Your custom URL string should always begin with the main page address, followed by a question mark:

http://nc-climate.ncsu.edu/fwip/?

After this, enter as many or as few fields as you like, all separated by ampersands (&s).

You can select the tab (Past Conditions or Current Conditions) that is shown when the page loads using the &tab argument:

&tab=past, &tab=curr OR &tab=fcst

By default, the Current Conditions tab will be shown when the page loads.

A few other arguments let you choose the location the map is centered on and zoomed to.

To view a particular state, add the &state argument with a two-letter state abbreviation. For example, to view North Carolina, use this:

&state=NC

To view a particular county, combine the &state argument with the &county argument. To zoom to Wake County, NC, use this:

&state=NC&county=Wake

A more advanced option is giving a custom center location (&center_pt) and zoom level (&zoom).

The center point should be given as latitude,longitude. The zoom level can be between 1 and 7, where 1 is zoomed far out and 7 is zoomed far in. To view Raleigh at a city-level zoom, you could use these arguments:

&center_pt=35.8,-78.6&zoom=6

You can select a preferred base map with the &map_bg argument.

To show the street map, use: &map_bg=str

To show the hybrid (satellite with roads overlaid) map, use: &map_bg=hyb

To show the terrain map, use: &map_bg=ter

If you don't specify a map background, the terrain map will be shown.

You can display county lines using the &county_lines argument. To turn them on, set this equal to 'true' or 'on':

&county_lines=on

Likewise, HUC (hydrological unit) boundaries can be displayed using the &hucs argument:

&hucs=on

Select a custom ob time for the Past Conditions tab with the &ob_past argument. For example, to select a particular date and time (such as July 9, 2012 at 3 pm), use this syntax:

&ob_past=2014-04-20_15:00:00

You can also view an observation from yesterday or today without entering the specific dates.

To view yesterday's 1 pm ob: &ob_past=yesterday_13:00:00

To view today's 9 am ob: &ob_past=today_09:00:00

The default past ob date/time is yesterday at 1 pm.

Select a custom ob time for the Forecast Conditions tab with the &ob_fcst argument. There is some built-in flexibility with this argument. For instance, you can request a specific date and time:

&ob_fcst=2014-04-24_13:00:00

Or you can view forecasts for today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow without entering the specific dates, as shown here:

&ob_past=today_13:00:00

&ob_past=tomorrow_13:00:00

&ob_past=dayaftertom_13:00:00

The default forecast ob date/time is the next 1 p.m. ob (either today's or tomorrow's).

Select the point data parameter(s) shown on each tab using the &point_past, &point_curr and &point_fcst arguments. The following table shows which parameters can be viewed on each tab:

Parameter URL abbr. Past? Curr.? Fcst.?
Station ID and network stin YES YES YES
Station ID stid YES YES YES
Station network stnw YES YES YES
Air temperature atemp YES YES
Dew point dew YES YES
Heat index hi YES YES
Wind chill wc YES YES
Rel. humidity rh YES YES
Wind speed/dir. wind YES YES
Wind speed wspd YES YES
Wind direction wdir YES YES
Wind gust wgust YES YES
Solar radiation srad YES YES
Soil temperature stemp YES YES
Soil moisture moist YES YES
Saturation Index satindex YES YES
Fuel moisture - weighted sticks fmoist YES YES
Precipitation (1 hr) precip_1hr YES YES
Precipitation (3 hr) precip_3hr YES YES
Precipitation (6 hr) precip_6hr YES YES
Precipitation (24 hr) precip_24hr YES YES
Precipitation (3 day) precip_3day YES YES
Precipitation (7 day) precip_7day YES YES
KBDI kbdi YES YES YES
Burning Index bi YES YES YES
ERC erc YES YES YES
Ignition Comp. ic YES YES YES
Spread Comp. sc YES YES YES
Adjective Rating adj YES YES YES
1-hr fuel moist. one_hr YES YES YES
10-hr fuel moist. ten_hr YES YES YES
100-hr fuel moist. hu_hr YES YES YES
1000-hr fuel moist. th_hr YES YES YES
Fuel model model YES YES YES
Forecasted Burning Index fc_bi YES YES
Forecasted ERC fc_erc YES YES
Forecasted Ignition Comp. fc_ic YES YES
Forecasted Spread Comp. fc_sc YES YES
Forecasted 100-hr fuels fc_hu_hr YES YES

For example, to view current solar radiation data, add this to the URL string:

&point_curr=srad

Or to view a four-parameter display showing past air temperature, relative humidity, KBDI and soil moisture data, give the parameters as a comma-delimited list:

&point_past=atemp,rh,kbdi,moist

In a four-parameter display such as this, the parameters will be displayed in the following positions:

&point_past=[upper left],[lower left],[upper right],[lower right]

You can also specify which station networks (RAWS, ECONet, ASOS and AWOS) are shown using the &networks_past, &networks_curr and &networks_fcst arguments. For example, to show RAWS and ECONet stations on the Past Conditions tab, add this to the URL string:

&networks_past=raws,econet

If you want to hide overlapping stations, set &hideoverlap_past=true, &hideoverlap_curr=true or &hideoverlap_fcst=true. By default, all stations, including those that overlap on the map, will be displayed.

Gridded datasets for each tab can be selected using the &gridded_past, &gridded_curr and &gridded_fcst arguments. The following table shows which gridded datasets are available on each tab:

Dataset URL abbr. Past? Curr.? Fcst.?
Active fire perimeters afp YES
Watches and warnings warnings YES
Radar imagery radar YES YES
Infrared satellite irsat YES
MPE Precip. estimate mpeest YES YES
Lightning strike density ltng YES YES
Standardized Precip. Index spi YES YES
Percent of Normal Precip. pctnml YES YES
Air temperature [analysis] ana_temp YES YES
Dew point [analysis] ana_dew YES YES
Wind speed [analysis] ana_wspd YES YES
Air temperature [NWS] nws_temp YES
Dew point [NWS] nws_dew YES
Rel. humidity [NWS] nws_rh YES
Wind speed [NWS] nws_wspd YES
Cloud cover [NWS] nws_cloud YES
Mixing height [SCO] sco_mixht YES
Air temperature [SCO] sco_temp YES
Lavdas Dispersion Index [SHRMC] shrmc_lavdas YES
Low Vis. Risk Index [SHRMC] shrmc_lvri YES
Mixing height [SHRMC] shrmc_mixht YES
Ventilation Index [SHRMC] shrmc_vent YES

For example, you could request current radar imagery by adding this to the URL string:

&gridded_curr=radar

Some gridded datasets, such as the radar and satellite imagery, display the conditions at a single time. Other fields, though, are cumulative over a longer time period.

For these datasets, such as Multi-sensor Precip. Estimates (MPE) and lightning strike density, you can set the number of hours used to calculate these fields.

For past and current MPE data, use the &mpe_past_hrs and the &mpe_curr_hrs arguments. For example, to view precip. estimates for the past 3 days (72 hours) ending today, use this syntax:

&gridded_curr=mpeest&mpe_curr_hrs=72

For the &mpe_past_hrs and &mpe_curr_hrs fields, here are the acceptable options, all given in hours:

24 (1 day), 72 (3 days), 168 (7 days), 720 (30 days), 1440 (60 days), 2160 (90 days), 2880 (120 days)

Similarly, the number of hours used in lightning strike density calculations can be set with the &ltng_past_hrs and &ltng_curr_hrs arguments. The following code would show strike density data for the 6-hour period ending on May 9, 2012 at 8:00 pm:

&gridded_past=ltng&ltng_past_hrs=6&ob_past=2012-05-09_20:00:00

For the &ltng_past_hrs and &ltng_curr_hrs fields, here are the acceptable options, all given in hours:

3, 6, 9, 12, 18, 24, 48, 72

Also, you can specify the number of months used in Standardized Precipitation Index and Percent of Normal Precipitation calculations with the &spi_past_months and &spi_curr_months arguments. For example, here's how you could request percent of normal precip. for the past 12 months:

&gridded_curr=pctnml&spi_past_months=12

Here are the months you can give for those options:

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 12, 15, 18, 24, 36

Here are a few examples of custom URL strings. Feel free to copy and paste them into your browser's address bar to test them out.

First, the following URL would show a four-parameter point data display on the Past Conditions tab with air temperature, wind speed, solar radiation and ERC data from June 16, 2010, and the map zoomed to Wilkes County, NC:

http://nc-climate.ncsu.edu/fwip/?ob_past=2010-06-16_13:00:00&point_past=atemp,wspd,srad,erc&state=NC&county=Wilkes

Next, this URL would show current wind speed/direction and lightning data from the past 3 hours, and show the Current Conditions tab when the page loads:

http://nc-climate.ncsu.edu/fwip/?point_curr=wind&gridded_curr=ltng&ltng_curr_hrs=3&tab=curr

Here's a more complex example, but it's a great example of the flexibility the custom URL strings provide. The URL below would show yesterday's 100-hour fuels values on the Past Conditions tab; current soil temperature observations and precip. estimates from the past 7 days (168 hours) on the Current Conditions tab; predicted mixing height values for tomorrow at 2 p.m. on the Forecast Conditions tab; the terrain map background and county lines turned on; and the map zoomed to Hyde County, NC:

http://nc-climate.ncsu.edu/fwip/?ob_past=yesterday_13:00:00&point_past=hu_hr&point_curr=stemp&gridded_curr=mpeest&mpe_curr_hrs=168
&gridded_fcst=mixht&ob_fcst=tomorrow_14:00:00&map_bg=ter&county_lines=on&state=NC&county=Hyde

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