Wednesday, March 14, 2018

National Pi Day

Our met sensors aren’t detecting any “pie in the sky” for National Pi Day. But if you want to test your skills, CWS customer Jet Propulsion Laboratory offers the Pi in the Sky Challenge.

Give it a try and learn how that magic number is used in rocket science at NASA!

Thursday, March 8, 2018

5 Reasons Incident Command Needs a Weather Station: WRAP UP

One final quote as we wrap up this series on 5 Reasons Why Incident Command Needs a Weather Station:

"As fire service leaders, it is essential that we assure our personnel have the right information, and that it goes
to all the right people at exactly the right time so everyone is empowered to make the right decisions," 

says Todd LeDuc in a recent Fire Engineering article.

Extreme weather, hazmat, wildland, whatever the situation, weather stations can provide meteorological information on-scene and up-to-the-minute to help you make the right decisions.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

5 Reasons Incident Command Needs a Weather Station - BONUS #6:DRONES

With their ability to improve situational awareness, DRONES are becoming increasingly valuable to incident response. Also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), drones are used for package delivery such as defibrillators, search and rescue, and communications.

During Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath in 2017, drones were deployed to assess the extent of damage, presence of hazardous materials, and search for survivors. Last month, two teens stranded off the coast of Australia were rescued by a drone, which was able to launch a self-inflating raft into the water in under two minutes.

Fire Chief Jonathan McMahan of College Station, TX reported a recent incident: “Fast moving urban interface wildland fire in south College Station yesterday … 10 exposed houses protected, and fire stopped close to an apartment complex. 2 fire department drones in the air providing immediate situational awareness to the incident command team.”*

Weather conditions are a critical factor in drone operation. Access to current meteorological data can help prevent damage to the UAV and its surroundings. These are some important parameters to monitor for safe drone operation.

  • Temperature: UAVs are designed to fly within certain temperature ranges. Extremes can cause damage, overheating, and shorter flight times due to battery drain.
  • Wind Speed/Gusts: High wind speed and strong gusts cause difficulty in maneuvering and steady positioning.
  • Precipitation, Humidity: UAVs do not function well in moisture.

As emergency response departments incorporate drone technology, access to current met data can be a key factor in the plan of action.
Response vehicles utilizing weather stations take automatic meteorological monitoring to the incident, creating crucial situational awareness for incident command and helping to achieve success in drone-incorporated missions.

*McMahan, Jonathan. (2018, January 23). Fast moving urban interface wildland fire in south College Station yesterday. [LinkedIn update]. Retrieved from

Additional references:

Avsec, Robert. (2018, February). Drones in the fire service: Expanding operational uses. FireRescue1. Retrieved from

Hutson, Matthew. (2017, Sep.) Hurricanes Show Why Drones are Future Disaster Relief. MACH. Retrieved from

McSweeney, Kelley. (2017, Sep.) Drones Help With Hurricane Recovery Efforts. ZDNet. Retrieved from

NVDrones. (2016, June). 5 Ways Weather Affects Your Drone’s Performance. Retrieved from

Ong, Thuy. (2018, January). A Drone Has Rescued Two People from Rough Seas off Coast of Australia. Retrieved from

Friday, February 23, 2018

5 Reasons Incident Command Needs a Weather Station #5: INCIDENT REPORTING

Accurate weather data leads to more accurate incident reporting, which can lead to better outcomes.

Successful management of emergency incidents increasingly depends on reliable on-scene data and communication technologies. For incident command, planning and personnel accountability can include weather monitoring technology with seamless inclusion of met data in incident reporting for documentation and analysis.

Weather data is one piece that leads to a fuller and more detailed big picture. Weather data is a component of several NFIRS modules. Incident reports can include conditions during the incident such as wind and humidity, as well as weather conditions that contributed to the incident such as freezing temperatures. Analysis includes how weather conditions impacted the incident itself and response such as tactics and personnel – what was effective, what can improve, how to be prepared for next time.

With rapid deployment, on-scene portable or vehicle-mounted weather stations can quickly and automatically transmit met data and integrate seamlessly into reporting software such as Adashi, SAFER systems, and PEAC.

Avsec, Robert. (December 2017). 8 game-changing apparatus trends from 2017. FireRescue1. Retrieved from
U.S. Fire Administration. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Thursday, February 15, 2018

5 Reasons Incident Command Needs a Weather Station #4: PLUME MODELING

Plume Modeling Quote
Fire departments are frequently tasked with responding when hazardous chemicals are accidentally released into the environment, especially in an inhabited area. Many crucial decisions such as approach, staging, and potential evacuation, rely on accurate, up-to-the minute local weather data. One key tool is toxic PLUME MODELING which combines information about the chemical release with meteorological data overlaid on a map.

Weather conditions greatly impact toxic cloud movement. Up to date meteorological data is imperative for monitoring cloud movement to ensure responders and local inhabitants stay out of harm’s way.

“Depending upon meteorology, the toxic cloud could be several miles long, but only a few blocks wide. Changing wind patterns could cause the plume to shift or meander in another direction,” says John S. Nordin, Ph.D. in his article “Evacuation or Shelter in Place.”*

Plume modeling software can often accept met data from Internet sources and/or directly from a weather station. While weather data is generally available on the Internet, many Internet applications upload data hourly or at 15-minute intervals, and the nearest data point may be miles away. On-site weather stations upload data in a matter of seconds.

A weather station is standard gear for most hazmat response teams. When the State of Oregon Fire Marshal established a state-wide Regional HazMat Emergency Response program, the teams were outfitted with weather stations from Columbia Weather Systems. In use for over 10 years, the systems recently underwent testing, upgrades and battery replacement. New hazmat vehicles include vehicle-mount weather stations with GPS.

On-site weather data can greatly increase the accuracy of plume modeling. Weather stations from Columbia Weather systems can automatically integrate with the plume modeling component of software such as MarPlot/CAMEO, Safer Systems, and PEAC by Aristatek. Additionally, vector wind measurements from WeatherMaster™ Software can be used to project an initial plume corridor before the modeling software can gather sufficient data.

*Nordin, John. Evacuate or Shelter in Place. Retrieved from

Additional Resources:

Chitumalla, Pavan Kumar; Harris, Douglas; Thuraisingham, Bhavani; and Khan, Latifur. (2010, April). Emergency Response Applications: Dynamic Plume Modeling and Real-Time Routing. IEEE Internet Computing. Retrieved from

Gerrish, John. (2006, Spring). HazMat Weather Part I: Mitigating the Unthinkable Retrieved from

Gerrish, John. (2006, Autumn). HazMat Weather Part II: Weather Monitoring as a Force Multiplier. Retrieved from

Petrillo, Alan (2016, September) New Hazmat Rigs Part of 10-Truck Order in Oregon. Fire Apparatus and Emergency Equipment. Retrieved from

Spell, Jim (2018, Jan). Why you should approach every call as a hazmat incident. FireRescue1. Retrieved from

Thursday, February 8, 2018

5 Reasons Incident Command Needs a Weather Station #3: SAFETY

Incident Command Safety Quote

Extreme summer heat, winter freeze, weather-related disasters. Professional weather monitoring improves the SAFETY of incident response with calculated parameters for perceived temperature and alarm notifications for extreme conditions and operational safety.

“One of the most overlooked elements that affect firefighting operations and the health of firefighters themselves is the weather conditions we operate in,” said Tom Warren, retired assistant chief, Providence RI, in a Fire Engineering article.1 Besides having a direct impact on firefighter health, weather impacts the severity of fires, increasing risk and safety hazards.

Summer months bring danger of heat-related disorders and fire due to dry fuel conditions. High heat and humidity can lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. The variability of wind can pose safety and fire control problems, which can result in fatalities.

In winter, on-scene operational considerations include the impact of cold temperatures and wind when operating from elevated positions such as aerial ladders or platforms. Ladders can freeze up, impacting their ability to extend or retract. Hand tools may be slippery and difficult to hold. Ice and slippery conditions may further impede operations. 

“We also have to be attuned to what’s happening as a result of snow, ice, freezing rain or wind … Maintaining situational awareness is imperative,” ~Chief Ronald Siarnicki2

Extreme weather emergencies and weather-related disasters such as hurricanes bring inherent risks of their own. In such circumstances, the role of Safety Officer can include monitoring and evaluating weather conditions keeping in mind crew fatigue, hydration, and PPE; with authority to suspend operations if conditions present too high a risk for personnel.

Weather monitoring, especially for working conditions, is not just actual meteorological parameters, but also perceived, for example, wind chill in the winter and heat index in the summer. Professional weather monitoring equipment can calculate these factors for more informed decision-making.

Accurate met data with on-site or vehicle-mounted weather stations can improve the safety of emergency responders and help mitigate hazards. Alarms can be set for risk conditions such as high wind speed, or extreme temperatures, automatically notifying appropriate personnel. Reliable weather data provides critical information for responders to be prepared and take appropriate action.

For information on adding weather stations to your organization's safety strategy, visit:

 1Warren, Tom. (2013, July). Firefighter Safety: Preparing for the Weather: Summer. Fire Engineering. Retrieved from
 2Siarnicki, Ronald. (2014, Jan.) Safety tips for winter weather response. FireRescue1. Retrieved from

Additional Resources:

National Wildfire Coordination Group. (2006). Section 2C.15. Introduction to Wildland Fire Behavior: Online Course. Boise, ID. Retrieved from

Lee, Michael. (2009, Jan.) Impacts of Winter Weather. Fire Rescue1. Retrieved from

FEMA. (2008, April) Special Report: Fire Department Preparedness for Extreme Weather Emergencies and Natural Disasters. Retrieved from

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

John Steinbeck on Weather

If the cold of winter or the warmth of summer impacts the operation of your company, visit our website.

John Steinbeck Quote