From the Hydrologist In Charge

 

Welcome to the web site for the National Weather Service’s Southeast River Forecast Center (SERFC). The SERFC is responsible for the production of river forecasts for all rivers that drain into the Atlantic Ocean along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, as well as the rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico from Mobile Bay to the southernmost tip of Florida -- an area of almost 270,000 square miles. In addition, we provide hydrologic support for the island of Puerto Rico.

The SERFC staff is composed of 15 dynamic individuals with civil engineering, meteorology, hydrology, and water resources expertise.

The SERFC is a lead agency in providing a wide variety of hydrometeorological information to our customers. Almost seven out of every ten inland-moving tropical storms or hurricanes affect our area. Consequently, the SERFC plays a key role in the advance warning of inland floods associated with tropical activity.

The SERFC provides water forecasts for a wide variety of customers, from five-day river forecasts to the general public to as much as a yearly outlook for water management agencies.

On this web site you will find a vast amount of hydrometeorological information. You can find five- day (at six-hour intervals) forecasts for almost 100 specific river locations. You will find Doppler radar estimates of rainfall, adjusted by rain gages. You will find ensemble streamflow projections for the next 90 days, and rainfall forecasts and a daily hydrometeorological outlook made by our meteorologists.

I hope you take some time to look around our site. I am always interested in any of your comments. Please feel free to send me an email to let me know your thoughts -- what you like about our services or what you think we could expand or improve upon.

Reggina Cabrera
Hydrologist in Charge

Southeast River Forecast Center
NOAA, National Weather Service
4 Falcon Rd
Peachtree City, GA 30269
(770)486-0028
Panoramic Photograph of Office
Photograph of Office staff out in snowy Peachtree City
SERFC Staff After Atlanta Snow Snowstorm
December 19, 2000
Thumbnail of John Feldt receiving region Cline Award
HIC John Feldt receives
the Regional Cline Award
for Leadership
Photograph thumbnail of SERFC staff receiving Cline Award in Hydrometeorology
SERFC staff receives 
the Regional Cline Award
for Hydrometeorology
 

 


A Brief History of the Southeast River Forecast Center

(Revised, December, 2000)

The Southeast River Forecast Center (SERFC) was established in 1955 for the purpose of providing flood and low-flow river forecasts for the southeastern United States. The area of forecast responsibility for the SERFC was designated to include rivers that drain into the Atlantic Ocean along the coasts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida as well as the rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico from Mobile Bay to the southernmost tip of Florida.

The original office of the SERFC was collocated with the Weather Bureau Airport Station at the city airport in Augusta, Georgia. In 1967 the office was moved to Atlanta, Ga to become collocated with the Weather Bureau office at the Atlanta International Airport. Because space was unavailable at the airport, the office was temporarily housed at three different downtown locations (Peachtree-Baker Building, then, 1401 Peachtree Street, and then, 1365 Peachtree Street) before finally being collocated with the Weather Service Forecast Office (WSFO) in 1976 at 1001 International Boulevard, Hapeville, GA. The collocated office was relocated to temporary quarters at 3420 Norman Berry Drive, Hapeville, GA on February 28, 1992 after Delta Airlines bought the building on International Boulevard and needed the entire building for their own use. On April 19, 1994, the collocated offices moved to Peachtree City, GA

Between 1955 and 1972 the SERFC disseminated river forecasts through nine Weather Bureau offices that were designated River District Offices (RDOs), whose areas of hydrologic responsibility were delineated by river basin boundaries rather than state lines. The RDOs were Mobile, AL; Montgomery, AL; Pensacola, FL; Tampa, FL; Atlanta, GA; Augusta, GA; Macon, GA; Charleston, SC; and Columbia, SC. Raleigh-Durham Weather Bureau office was designated an RDO, but produced its own river forecasts until 1972. In 1972, the Weather Service adopted the state WSFO concept. River forecasts were then disseminated through six WSFOs as follows: Birmingham, AL; Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Jackson, MS; Columbia, SC and Raleigh-Durham, NC. This "area management" concept persisted until September 30, 1996. At the present time, there are 18 Weather Forecast Offices in the SERFC area and each of them has hydrologic responsibility for the area that they cover.

Before the advent of the computer age, river forecasts issued by the SERFC were prepared by hand with procedures utilizing maps, graphs, tables, charts, etc. Computer programming was begun in the mid-1960s to produce software that would reduce the labor intensive work involved in managing the soil moisture accounting system that was being used in the SERFC. When the office moved to Atlanta in 1967, an in-house IBM 1130 (16K) computer was obtained, and over the next few years the preparation of forecasts gradually became computerized. In 1975, the SERFC was linked to the IBM 360/195 systems of the NOAA Central Computer Facility in Suitland, MD, and preliminary calibration work was begun on the National Weather Service River Forecast System (NWSRFS). In late 1982, a total commitment was made to adopt the more sophisticated NWSRFS as SERFC's primary hydrologic model and in 1986 the change over was completed, leaving the old model behind. Later, the IBM 360s were replaced by NAS 9000s, where the NWSRFS resided until December, 1996. In the summer of 1996, fast, high capacity computer workstations were placed in the RFC and within a few months, all operational products were being generated "in-house'. Although the forecasts are calculated by computer, they still require thorough analysis by professional hydrologists for possible adjustment. Insufficient data and/or imperfections in the hydrologic model often require revisions of the computer forecast.

In addition to having responsibility for the preparation of river forecasts for public dissemination through WSFOs, the SERFC provides forecasts directly to, and works closely with, other federal, state, and private agencies that have an interest in water resources. Open lines of communications with the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Corps of Engineers, private power companies, state water management agencies, and other water interests have been cultivated since SERFC began operations. Since 1985, the SERFC has become increasingly involved in aspects of water resources other than short term river forecasts. SERFC was the first RFC to calibrate and use the Extended Streamflow Prediction (ESP) model in a non-snowmelt area. Drought outlooks and seasonal probabilistic predictions are now being provided on a scheduled basis to assist responsible agencies in the management of water resources.

Attention was focused on interagency hydrometeorological data exchange in 1985 when SERFC was equipped with a minicomputer that was dedicated to the task of collecting, storing, and disseminating a wide range of data to interested agencies. . Cooperating agencies began to provide data for and receive data from the DATACOL files which were maintained in that computer system. In 1993, the minicomputer with its DATACOL software, was replaced by smaller, high-speed micro-computers and DATACOL was replaced by a new and improved software load called Hydromet. The Corps of Engineers cooperated in the program by providing a second identical system to back-up the primary system.

The development and deployment of the WSR-88D radar was a notable event in the history of the NWS, and there was no exception at SERFC. The entire professional staff attended the four-week training course at Norman, OK in 1992 to learn to use the new radar and interpret its output. The Principal User Processor (PUP) arrived in January 1993. Full use of the new system's capabilities was not attained until new computer work stations were made available at a future date.

Initially, the SERFC staff consisted of a hydrologist in charge, a principal assistant, two
hydrologists, and a secretary. As the RFC became responsible for more and more river basins, staff was added, reaching a high of eight hydrologists and a secretary in the 1970s. One hydrologist position was lost to austerity and the secretary position was converted to hydrologic technician in the early 1980s. The staff then consisted of a hydrologist in charge, a deputy hydrologist in charge, five hydrologists and a hydrologic technician until late 1993 when the DHIC position was abolished in favor of the new Development and Operations Hydrologist (DOH) position. The Senior Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support (HAS) position was added in January, 1994. Two HAS forecasters were added in the summer of 1994. Four more hydrologic forecaster positions were added in 1996 for a total of 15 SERFC staff members.

Late in 1997, HIC Dave Helms retired after over 30 years of Federal Government service. Then John Feldt, was selected as HIC. John arrived with around 20 years of Federal service and was recently MIC in Des Moines, Iowa. John arrived just as the El Nino floods began, which lasted through the Spring of 1998. 

In 1998, the NWS Modernization was nearing completion with the delivery of the Advanced Weather Information Processing System (AWIPS). The SERFC received 7 workstations which became operational that year. 

In 1999, with the new forecasting tools available, the HAS function began using its own
Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts (QPF) in the river models. X-sets was also implemented making it easier for the hydrologic forecaster to compose and send out a river forecast. The addition of this tool allowed the SERFC to begin issuing river forecasts out 5 days in 6 hour increments. Also, in 1999, the SERFC  began to publish hydrographs and river condition maps on the web. 

In September of 1999, when the SERFC's modernization was complete, the SERFC was given a "final exam" by mother nature when a near category 5 hurricane threatened the Southeast U.S. As Hurricane Floyd raked through the Bahamas, a massive amount of rainfall began to fall in the Carolinas. With an accurate QPF forecast produced by the SERFC in cooperation with the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) and several local Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), the hydrologic forecasters at the SERFC were able to provide an accurate, record flooding, forecast to the public, local WFOs and Emergency Management Community days in advance of landfall. Our grade was a U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal presented in September, 2000 in Washington.

For 2000, the SERFC began its work on the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services (AHPS). The SERFC selected Albany, GA as the prototype site. A large amount of work was also being done with the calibration of river basins, Extended Streamflow Prediction (ESP), web page improvements, and new GIS products which include the new Graphical Hydrometeorological Discussion.


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