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The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Norman is located at 120 David L. Boren Boulevard in the National Weather Center building, built in 2006. This is located on the South Research Campus of the University of Oklahoma. The building is also along the north side of Highway 9, which runs west to east along the south side of the city of Norman.
The Operations Area
All of the forecasts, watches, warnings, and advisories get produced in the operations area, shown in the pictures above. The operations area is staffed on a 24 hour, 7 days-a-week basis, every day of the year. At least two people are always on duty. In the picture on the left, you can see the Situational Awareness Display (SAD) in the background. The SAD is a grid of 9 television screens that monitor local television stations, the latest weather data, any warnings issued by the NWS Norman or surrounding offices, and the NWS Norman web page. All of the computer workstations where the forecasters work face the Situational Awareness Display. Eight workstations are available in the Operations area. During normal operations in quiet weather, as few as two or three of these may be occupied at any given time. However, during severe weather operations, most or all of the workstations will likely be used.
What We Forecast
At the Norman Forecast Office, we issue 7-day forecasts for 48 counties in Oklahoma and 8 counties in Western North Texas. In order to produce these forecasts, the forecasters utilize the Advanced Weather Integrated Processing System (AWIPS) to analyze the latest weather data and computer model forecasts. Also, they use the Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE) to create gridded forecasts of dozens of weather variables for the entire 7-day period. An example of a GFE grid is pictured below. Finally, forecasters also use the FX-Collaborate (FXC) program to create graphical depictions of the biggest weather stories over the next few days. These are displayed on the NWS Norman Enhanced Weather Page.
In addition to the regular 7-day forecast, the forecasters on duty monitor the need for watches, warnings and advisories around the clock. All watches, warnings and advisories for the 56 counties in the NWS Norman area are issued from the operations area (shown in the first set of pictures). The only exceptions are Severe Thunderstorm Watches and Tornado Watches, which are issued by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC). However, in the National Weather Center Building, the SPC and NWS Norman offices are located right next to each other.
Finally, we also produce aviation and fire weather forecasts. The aviation forecasts are called Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs). The NWS Norman produces TAFs for 9 airports around the area: Oklahoma City, Norman, Gage, Woodward, Ponca City, Clinton-Sherman, Hobart, Lawton, and Wichita Falls. The fire weather forecasts are produced based on the grids in the Graphical Forecast Editor, and are issued as a special product.
What Else Do We Do?
At the NWS Norman we also maintain various equipment and records. There are three WSR-88D radars in our county warning area: near Vance Air Force Base around Enid, near Frederick, Oklahoma (also near Altus Air Force Base), and near Twin Lakes, Oklahoma. Technicians at the Air Force bases maintain the two radars near the Air Force bases. Our electronic technicians maintain the Twin Lakes radar, as well as a handful of observation sites around the area.
We broadcast our forecasts, watches, warnings, and advisories over NOAA Weather Radio towers, located at different places around the area. NoAA Weather Radio is always available, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The broadcast schedule consists of messages which are repeated every three to five minutes and are routinely revised to provide up-to-date information.
We maintain climate data and records for various observation sites around the area, as well as for cooperative observer sites around the area. The two official climate locations that we serve are Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Wichita Falls, Texas. This includes records and averages for temperatures and precipitation, along with a few other meteorological variables. We also log storm reports, snowfall totals, etc.
Finally, we also keep records and provide forecasts for various rivers around the area. River forecasts are routinely produced by River Forecast Centers, but they can be tweaked and readjusted here at our office. We keep data on river crest information, and historic crests at each of the river gage locations. Additionally, we make sure the gages are functioning properly and occasionally travel to the sites to perform maintainence.