Remote Automated Weather Stations (RAWS) are weather stations set up on tripods, and they look like little “Lunar Landers.” The data collected from these stations are used in numerous applications, including fire weather, climatology, resource management, flood warning, noxious weed control, all-risk management, and air quality management. These solar-powered units gather important weather information on an hourly basis.
RAWS sensors monitor: • Wind speed and direction
• Wind gusts
• Air temperature
• Solar radiation
• Relative humidity
• Fuel moisture
• Soil moisture and temperature
About 1,850 RAWS are strategically positioned throughout the United States. RAWS units collect, store, and forward data hourly (via satellite 22,300 miles above the equator) to a computer system located at the National Interagency Fire Center, Boise, Idaho. Weather information travels from the RAWS units to a satellite and then back to earth in one-quarter of a second. Each RAWS unit operates on eight to 10 watts of power, which is nearly equivalent to the power needed to operate a hand-held radio. The battery lasts about three years.