Forest Service Project Activity Level and Sale Activity Level

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SCPD

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Do you listen to the nearest National Forest or Forests? Do you listen during the 1600 weather broadcast and hear the dispatcher say something similar to "The sale activity level for Jerseydale" (a fire weather data collection site on the Sierra National Forest I've used as an example) "is 3, the Project Activity Levels are: Area 532 Delta/Delta, Area 534 Echo/Echo Victor, Area 536 Charlie/Charlie." I can monitor the north end of the Sierra National Forest and the Inyo National Forest from my listening post or shack and hear this everyday.

I would like to know if anyone else listens to the Forest Service often enough to have heard this type of a broadcast on the other National Forests in California.

I'm not asking because I need to know how to decipher what is being broadcast, I just want to know if more than just the Sierra and Inyo National Forests are using this procedure.

For those of you who may have been hearing this type of a broadcast and have been mystified as to the meaning, don't despair, I have the answer you need! At the bottom of this page

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/sanbernardino/conditions/

is a general explanation of both. This link provides a more detailed explanation of the project activity level:

http://www.fs.fed.us/r5/eldorado/documents/dispatch/pal_level.pdf

I would like to hear from anyone who has heard this being broadcast on any other National Forest except the Inyo and Sierra National Forests.
 

SCPD

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For those of you who listen to Cal Fire, National Parks, National Forests, and BLM dispatch centers, and don't know what they are talking about when they give a weather forecast and mention zones here is a link that should help:

http://gacc.nifc.gov/oscc/predictive/weather/California_2008_AOP.pdf

On pages 7 and 8 are maps of the weather forecast zones for California. For more information regarding fire weather click onto these links:

http://gacc.nifc.gov/oscc/predictive/weather/index.htm

http://gacc.nifc.gov/oncc/predictive/weather/index.htm

The first if for South Ops and the second for North Ops. I figured that with fire season starting up around the state, information on how to understand many of the procedures you hear on the radio systems of wildland fire agencies would be helpful.
 

SLOweather

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I started the other thread about Los Padres NF afternoon fire indicies and activity levels. In the LPNF, they broadcast indices and activity levels, but I don't believe I've ever heard the "sale activity level" but I'll have to listen closer.

I took some notes yesterday. Now to decipher my chicken scratches...

Indices like 65 High, 120 Very High, 163 Very High, 52 Moderate, and 113 Extreme (might be a transcription error on my part?)

My next notes are a little unclear (Sorry) because they mention staffing and activity levels, like 33E and 33EV (no phonetics).

However, you can listen to the LPNF on my stream some time if you'd like. See http://wx.sloweather.com/firescanner.php . That's running on a ShoutCast server, so there might be a delay of a minute or more between real time listening and what you hear on the scanner.

I'll go lock the right channel scanner on LPNF dispatch 170.55.

Done.
 
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SCPD

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I didn't have the chance to listen in on the LP on your scanner stream. I won't for at least another week. The portion of your post where you say you hear something like 33EV and 33E sounds like the sale and project activity levels. Sale activity levels use numbers 1-5 and project activity is in the letters A, B, C, D, Ev, and E. They usually give what the actual for the current day and then the predicted for the next day. That matches with what you noted if they pronounced it as three, three, Ev and three, three, E and not thirty-three.

Another activity level that is broadcast is the lightning activity level or LAL. The following is the explanation of those:

1 No lightning
2 Isolated or dry thunderstorms
3 Widely scattered wet thunderstorms
4 Scattered wet thunderstorms
5 Numerous wet thunderstorms
6 Wide scattered or greater dry thunderstorms

Of those categories a "6" is the most dangerous as far as fire starts. There was a day back in the early 1970's when the number of new fire starts on the Sequoia National Forest (the Forest not the Park) was around 300, with 95% being contained at less than 1/4 acre. That was most likely during a LAL of 4 or 5, however.

One more index is given each day and that is the Haines Index. This index is somewhat experimental at this point as the correlation in the Haines Index and fire behavior is not strongly established yet. It is thought to be an explanation for "plume dominated" fire behavior. When a fire is plume dominated it means that the fire is creating strong convection columns or a column. Think of it like a western dust devil, which is where the surface air is hot and rises to meet a cold layer of air it cannot penetrate. It finally punches a hole in the layer and lots of hot air is pulled into a column that rise up through this hole. The Haines Index is a measurement of the stability of the upper atmosphere and the more unstable it is the more it tends to support convective activity.

A plume on a fire is somewhat similar and what is happening is that the fire is dominating local air flow patterns such as upslope during the day, downslope at night, the prevailing wind direction, and low or high pressure generated winds. This domination is when the fire begins to suck in large quantities of air which is lifted to very high levels. I've been on some very large fires such as Yellowstone in 1988 on the 500,000+ acre North Fork Fire where the column or plume was topping out at 45,000 - 55,000 or greater feet. This resulted in the condensation of moisture on top of the smoke that was sufficient to result in widely scattered light rain. Not enough rain to make any difference on the fire. The day the North Fork Fire burned into Old Faithful Village, at least 1/3 of the sky was dominated by plumes with such clouds, as there were a number of other fires burning in the greater Yellowstone area. I have talked with people who have witnessed lighting striking the ground from a plume cloud and starting spot fires. Pretty wild! That indicates very unstable air. If you have ever heard the expression "the fire is making its own weather," it is almost always describing a plume dominated fire.

I speak from experience when I say that such a fire, given that you are in the "right" (or wrong!) place, is enough to occasionally make a young man a little bit incontinent. It only happened to me once in my career and it was during my five weeks on the fire line in Yellowstone, August-October, 1988. It is a story unto itself I will not repeat here as there is not anything I can say that will effectively put you into the setting I was in when it happened.

It will likely take a number of years or decades to establish a causal relationship between fire behavior and the Haines Index. The hypothesis is, that the higher the Haines Index, the more difficult it is to contain the fire due to plume dominated and extreme fire behavior.
 

Lt51506

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Ex-Smokey,
It's nice to see that someone here has their act together! Excellant post's w/info and more up-to-date than an old fart like me. KUDO'S
 

SCPD

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Ex-Smokey,
It's nice to see that someone here has their act together! Excellant post's w/info and more up-to-date than an old fart like me. KUDO'S
If you saw me you would think I'm an old fart too. My hair turned almost 100% grey at the age of 42.
 

Lt51506

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LOL...grey hair....I beat you by 6 months! (Rolling Stones) "what a drag it is getting old"!
 

silverspy

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Greetings from Reno.

Hello ExSmokey,
I can confirm that the Tahoe National forest does report these two levels in the afternoon report, whereas the Toiyabe ( Sierra Front Dispatch ) does not. So maybe it's just a Region 5 thing. I will listen tomorrow and attempt to ascertain if the LTBMU uses this system. Please let me know if you can shed any light on the USFS link frequencies, refer to my topic in the California forums entitled "Forest Service Radio systems." I was just in your area on Saturday and it was beautiful weather down there. Talk at ya later.
Thanks,
William Blume, aka Silverspy
 

swylie

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Yes to the LTBMU and ENF

The Predicted Indicies are read during the morning weather and the Actual and Predicted Indicies are read during the afternoon weather because I'm one of those guys who reads it to them. Thanks for listening.
 

SLOweather

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Listened to the Los Padres NF, did a little Googling, and figured out the Sale Activity Level. LPNF doesn't announce a Sale Activity Level, probably because there's no really saleable timber in it.
 

SCPD

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Listened to the Los Padres NF, did a little Googling, and figured out the Sale Activity Level. LPNF doesn't announce a Sale Activity Level, probably because there's no really saleable timber in it.
I included some links with information for both the sale activity and project activity in my original post.

I would understand how the sale activity level would have no relebvance on the Los Padres. The project activity level is included in contracts awarded by the Forest Service for various types of construction work on National Forest lands. Here on the Inyo they follow those same levels for project work done by Forest Service crews, such as when they are doing fuel reduction work and thinning.
 
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SCPD

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The Predicted indicies are read during the morning weather and the Actual and Predicted Indicies are read during the afternoon weather because I'm one of those guys who reads it to them. Thanks for listening.
The original question I posed was whether other NF's broadcast the sale activity and project activity levels each afternoon (1600 weather). I know they all broadcast the actual and predicted burning indicies and sometimes ignition component and energy release component.

The broadcasting of the project activity levels started in the last 2-3 years on the Inyo and Sierra. Maybe it started earlier than that, but I do remember a year or two when I could not find anything on the Internet on it. Finally last year or the year before I found the explanation. I guess I could have gone back to the Ranger Station I retired from, which is only .4 miles from my home, but I'm not one of those retired guys who stops by at the office periodically.

I haven't been in the Lake Tahoe or Eldorado NF areas for a year now. The last time was at a family reunion of some friends at the lake for a weekend and things got way too busy to listen in on "Camino." I did get the chance to look at the new LTBMU office facility from the outside as we left on Sunday. Very nice, sure beats the heck out of that office they were in north of the Y.

Thanks for being on the answering end of the nets for those two Forests. I depended on Forest dispatchers for about 2 1/2 decades before a health problem forced my early retirement. My all time favorite dispatcher was Larry Armas on the Inyo, who later transferred to the Sequoia. I always liked the way he woke me up in the middle of the night to give me some sort of local or off Forest assignment. He always paused after he initially identified himself then always asked a question about some well known historical event to make sure we were awake enough to think, get a pencil and paper, and actually respond. He would say something like "who was president of the United States in 1863?". Or, "what year did Columbus become famous?" He only proceeded with giving the assignment after we answered the question correctly. Funny the things that stand out in a career after you retire. I do know that I always appreciated dispatchers and want to pass along my compliments to you. It is one of those jobs that nobody notices until it is done badly, so you usually only hear the gripes. I always tried to get to know the dispatchers and stopped by regularly whenever I visited the S.O. It helped me communicate better from the field when I could imagine what the dispatch consoles looked like, where the maps were on the wall, and could visualize the faces of the dispatchers.
 
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rhvfd10

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Douglas County, Nevada
www.sierrafront.net

the website for the Sierra Front region of the Great Basin (West Nevada and Alpine, Mono Counties in CA)

From the website you can access the daily indicies and weather (& their explainations) for the region and compare them to the morning and afternoon information reports. I wish all areas had websites as useful as they do.
 
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