National Wildfire Coordinating Group

Weather

NFDRS header graphic. Decorative.

Hourly weather and solar radiation data, in the FW13 format, is required to support NFDRS2016 fire danger analysis using FireFamilyPlus.

This format provides the data fields required to employ the latest fire danger science, including solar radiation and snow cover, and has the temporal resolution required to support the Nelson dead fuel moisture calculations. The FW13 file is the primary weather file format that will be supported in future versions of FireFamilyPlus (FFP), replacing several legacy file formats.​

Both historical and current FW13 weather data are available for all Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS), regardless of station ownership. Data are also available for some other weather monitoring platforms (ASOS, Mesonet, state-specific databases, etc.) that send data through the WIMS Alternate Gateway, but these data are not uniformly available nationwide.

Although fire danger analysis is consolidating around the FW13 file format for weather, there remain several different ways to access the data that present some challenges with regard to its application. The resources for accessing this data will be described below, along with basic guidelines for importing the data into FireFamilyPlus for analysis.

The goal of providing one-stop access to FW13 files containing both historical and current weather is being aggressively pursued to simplify fire danger analysis and application. Check back often for updates on this, and please make a blog post or consult a subject matter expert for assistance.

General Process for Obtaining and Importing FW13 Weather Files:

  • Download the station catalog for any station of interest from the FamWeb Data Warehouse.
  • Download an FW13 file for any station of interest from the FamWeb Data Warehouse. These data are updated hourly).
  • Download an FW13 file for the same station from Program for Climate, Ecosystem, and Fire Applications (CEFA) website.
  • Import the FW13 file from CEFA into a FireFamilyPlus database.
  • Import the FW13 file from the Data Warehouse into the same FireFamilyPlus database.

Review of FireFamilyPlus

Processes that should immediately follow include performing a quality control check on station data and evaluating station data similarity for development of station groupings. Details for these processes and the process for obtaining and importing FW13 files will be included in related Tech Tips.

There are several sources and format options for obtaining weather data files to import into FireFamilyPlus.

Sources and formats for hourly weather data, as of January 2021:

  FamWeb
WIMS1, 2
(PLST)
FamWeb
Data
Warehouse2
WRCC
Data
Lister3
CEFA
RAWS
Export4,5
Notes/Attributes FW13 FW13 FW13 FW13
Password Required X   X  
Uses NWS/WIMS ID X X   X
Uses WRCC ID     X  
Data Are Current X X X  
Period of Record

Daily from
1993;
Hourly since Aug
14, 2014
to present

Daily from
1993.
Hourly since
Aug 14, 2014
to present

Hourly
since
station
began
satellite
data
transfer
(~2000)
to present

Hourly
since
solar
radiation
sensor
installed
to near
present
(updated
regularly)

NFDR “O/R” X X X R only
Solar Radiation X X X X
Gust Data X X X X
Snow Flag 2010+ 2010+   X

1 Access to WIMS requires login via NAP; then proceed to WIMS and choose FastPath PLST

2 Has daily observations for full period of record and hourly observations since August 14, 2014; Snow flag data are valid only if updated regularly by the local unit. Data Warehouse is updated hourly from WIMS.

3 From WRCC’s RAWS page: from the map, choose a state, then a RAWS, then select Data Lister in the left-hand column. WRCC ID is cross-referenced for most stations in the FireFamilyPlus Station Catalog.

4 Climate, Ecosystems, and Fire Applications website: enter the WIMS ID in the box. Weather data are available back to the time the solar radiation sensor was installed and are updated regularly. Gap-filled weather data are provided for certain areas of the country (e.g., California) only.

5 A map at the  CEFA-WFAS FW13 Fire Weather Data File Interface (see below) provides spatial access to the same raw data (no gap-filled data).

Weather Updates to NFDRS 2016

The 2016 update to NFDRS, which is featured in FireFamilyPlus version 5, requires hourly weather observations to calculate dead fuel moisture. The FW13 file format is the required format, as it includes fields for the required data (e.g. solar radiation, required for NFDRS 2016) and can contain hourly observations. The preferred method to obtain hourly data is to first obtain a CEFA FW13 file and then a Data Warehouse FW13 file and station catalog, importing the files into FireFamilyPlus in that order.

Data Warehouse Weather and Station Catalog Data

The first place to obtain FW13 files is FamWeb’s Data Warehouse, which is comprised of records from WIMS and therefore includes any “published” daily (e.g. quality controlled 1300) observations. To obtain the weather data, you need to know the 6-digit WIMS ID (also known as the Station ID). You can select dates for the period of record of the weather station, however, hourly data are only available since August 14, 2014 along with daily “published” observations for the entire period of record. You must select the Hourly Observation Type to obtain hourly data.

Access the Data Warehouse website

From the main FamWeb site, select Fire/Weather Data Extract and then Weather.

FamWeb Screen shot from Fire and Aviation Management website.

Download the Station Catalogs and Weather data as outlined in the Job Aid (not yet available).

CEFA Weather Data

The remaining hourly observation data can be obtained from the Program for Climate, Ecosystem, and Fire Applications (CEFA) website, which extracts the “raw” data that is stored at the Western Region Climate Center (WRCC) and adds the snow flag. There are two ways to download this data, both of which provide you with the same file. We will cover both of them below.


Access the CEFA website

To obtain the weather data, you will need to know the 6-digit WIMS ID (also known as NWS ID). The file will include all hourly data corresponding to that period of record that includes solar radiation data.

Screen shot of the RAWS FW13 application.

Once you type in an ID and select the Get FW13 button, you will see a hyperlink to download the data in FW13 format: for example, download "241513.fw13" in FW13 format ....  Right click on the link and select Save Target As (or Save link as…). Save the file to your computer.

If using Chrome or Firefox, it will automatically save the file on your computer with the “.fw13” extension added to the file name. If using Internet Explorer, you will need to do two things before saving the file. First, select the Save as type to all files. Second, change the default “.htm” extension in the file name to “.fw13”.

Access the CEFA Data File Interface (Map)

Conversely, you can obtain the data using the map at the CEFA-WFAS FW13 Fire Weather Data File Interface. Enlarge the map until you see blue drops. Each one represents a RAWS. Click on the drop and then follow the instructions to click on the link to the file and save the file to your computer. This file contains the exact same data as the CEFA website. It is simply a different way to obtain the data. 

CEFA-WFAS FW13 Fire Weather Data File Interface. Image of a map with the point of location and a popup giving a dexcription.

FireFamilyPlus Import

The preferred method to import data into Fire FamilyPlus is to obtain an FW13 data file from the Data Warehouse and import it into FFP first, saying “No” to the question “Should existing records be overwritten?” Then import the FW13 data obtained from CEFA in the same way, saying “No” to the question. This method will prevent the “published” data from WIMS from being overwritten with the “raw” data from CEFA. Your FFP dataset should be limited to only the years that have hourly data with a solar radiation when selecting NFDRS 2016 fuel models.

 

Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
2023-08-17