Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS)

  • RAWS are self-contained, portable and permanent, solar powered weather stations that provide timely local weather data used primarily in fire management.
  • Weather data collected by RAWS such as relative humidity, wind speed, wind direction, air temperature, fuel moisture and temperature, rain, and solar radiation are critical to predicting fire behavior, which is imperative to effective fire management of all kinds (suppression, prescribed burning, AMR, etc.)
  • Approximately 2,800 RAWS are permanently and strategically placed throughout  the U.S., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S .Virgin Islands
  • The BLM Remote Sensing Unit maintains about 1,700 RAWS units annually.
  • Stations run on a 12-volt battery combined with a 20-watt solar panel.
  • NIFC RAWS employs 23 fulltime employees making up two sections: 1) depot – in house section is responsible for calibration and repair; 2) field – responsible for calibrating and installation in the field.
  • Most RAWS are seen by human eyes only once per year, when they get annual maintenance.
  • A RAWS unit costs approximately $18,000 to purchase.
  • RAWS data transmitted to Boise via Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) 22,300 miles above the earth.
  • Program has 75 portable units, Incident Remote Automatic Weather Stations (IRAWS) that can be deployed to any incident to augment on-site forecasts.
  • IRAWS can be tone activated, meaning a firefighter can key a tone on their handheld radio to hear current weather data.