UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
We all know severe weather can strike the southern U.S. at any time of the year, and this year has been no exception. Most notable was the February outbreak of killer tornadoes in Arkansas and Mississippi. Unfortunately, this may be a precursor of things to come. As spring begins, the occurrence of severe weather, including heavy rains, increases markedly. Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and heavy rains can strike at a moment's notice, and it is during these times that the American people-our customers-are most vulnerable. Such times are also when we are needed most, for the protection of life and property.
This is not to downplay the important forecasts and other services we provide on a daily basis, but as the warm season begins many eyes watch the sky for the possibility of developing severe weather. The ability of our field offices to rapidly shift gears into severe weather mode to issue those crucial, life saving warnings makes our services so valuable. During heavy rain events, the RFCs are central to providing flood products and services, and they team with the WFOs to deal with flash flooding. All these actions are tied together by the long hours of preparedness work which ensures appropriate action is taken when warnings are issued.
Severe weather affects everyone, and especially the flying public. America's airspace is already crowded, and development of an area of thunderstorms across major hubs, such as Atlanta or Dallas/Fort Worth plays havoc with the flying public. That's when the service of the CWSUs to the Air Route Traffic Control Centers and the rest of the aviation community becomes paramount.
Serving the American people during these critical times requires a total team effort, involving the WFOs, RFCs, and CWSUs. Support and administrative staff at the local offices and the regional office also are key team players in serving the public. The operational staff is on the front line with support and administrative staff providing the essential tools to maintain quality operations. Our facilities and electronics technicians are no less essential in keeping systems and communications operating. The hard work of everyone makes the Southern Region severe weather program a success. We have a long and valued tradition of providing timely and accurate products and services when they are needed most, and this spring will be no exception.
NOAA ADMINISTRATOR'S AWARD RECIPIENTS. I am very pleased to announce that two Southern Region employees will be recognized later this month when they are awarded individual Administrator's Awards. They are:
Carl L. Peabody, WFO Austin/San Antonio, who is recognized for leading a nationwide project to have NWS telephone numbers, Internet addresses and local NOAA Weather Radio frequencies placed in the government listings sections of telephone directories, and
Bartlett C. Hagemeyer, MIC at WFO Melbourne, for leading a program of scientific research and collaboration at his office which has resulted in innovative techniques for improved forecasting of hazardous weather in Florida.
CARL REBER. Many of our senior managers will remember Carl Reber, who played a significant role in many program areas during the last reorganization of NWS field operations. Carl passed away in Fort Worth on March 22 at age 85. He was a native of Old Glory, Texas, and joined the SRH staff in 1964 as the newly created Regional Users Services Representative (REGUS). Later he served as the Executive Officer until retirement in 1980, after 42 years of service. Along the way Carl received the DOC Silver Medal (1956) for his pioneering work at Weather Bureau Headquarters in the aviation program. He became Operations Manager of the National Hurricane Research Project in Miami in 1958, and later received the Gold Medal (1962) for his work as head of the Research Flight Facility. Carl was active until recently in the local AMS chapter and we will miss him.
INTERNET USE. For everyone's information I have attached this month a copy of the NWS policy on use of Internet and email.
If there were one manual for IFPS, it could very well borrow from the book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and on the first page in friendly bold letters say "DON'T PANIC." By now all should be aware major changes loom in how forecasters will do their jobs, but if we approach those changes in an organized way we can work through them just as we have handled all the other changes associated with modernization over the past decade. Our intent is to use this section of Topics each month to keep readers informed of IFPS-related issues and answer your questions as best we can.
TRAINING FOR IFPS. Training for implementation of the Interactive Forecast Preparation System at all WFOs is well underway. Most Southern Region MICs have already attended a two-day overview course for managers at the NWS Training Center, and the remainder will do so by the end of next month. Two individuals from each office - in most cases the SOO and an IFPS focal point - will attend an eight-day NWSTC course which is intended to provide them with the knowledge and tools to return home, install IFPS, and conduct basic training for the remainder of the WFO staff who will use it. The latter classes began in February and all Southern Region attendees will complete the training by next September.
Experience so far indicates a considerable amount of hands-on work will be needed before most individuals will consider themselves proficient with IFPS. No doubt additional training will also be needed to augment that experience. When and how follow-on training will occur is being considered by all the regions and NWS Headquarters as part of the overall NWS training program. In addition, the Southern Region IFPS implementation plan (see below) will outline training and familiarization activities we expect to undertake in support of the offices after their attendees have completed the NWSTC courses. The field offices are much involved in developing that plan. For now, we encourage all forecasters who have not already done so to review the following two short, on-line summaries which provide a good basic overview of IFPS.
IFPS Overview, prepared by NWSTC, has the following sections -
- The Evolving Forecast Process
- IFPS Components/Database Structure
- Product Generation
- Examples of IFPS Products
"Models, Forecasters, and Interactive Forecast Preparation in the New Millennium," by David Ruth (NWSH/MDL). This preprint paper from a recent AMS IFPS conference stresses the forecaster's role in the digital forecast process.
IFPS WEB SITE. At the Southern Region IFPS Web site (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ftproot/msd/html/ifps.html) you will soon be able to find nearly everything you always wanted to know about IFPS. If not, then let us (CWWD) know and we will try to add it. The site will have training links, search engines, frequently asked questions, the IFPS implementation schedule, the IFPS Implementation Plan, and contact information. Check it out soon and often.
REGIONAL IFPS IMPLEMENTATION TEAM. A regional IFPS team has been established at Southern Region Headquarters to coordinate the field office support and flow of information necessary to ensure a successful implementation process. Jud Ladd (CWWD/MSB) will facilitate the activities of the team, which comprises Melinda Bailey (CWWD/MSB), Matt Strahan (CWWD/DET), Paul Kirkwood (SOD), and Ken Waters (SSD).
Melinda will oversee policy issues associated with product formatting and style, as well as ensuring an effective exchange of information among field offices. This includes developing and maintaining the above-mentioned IFPS website, which will serve as a central means of exchanging vital implementation-related information. Matt will primarily involve himself in product dissemination issues, especially as they relate to the Web. Paul will take the lead in handling system integration and management activities and issues. Ken will focus his activities in this area on bringing pertinent technical issues to the attention of system developers and tracking the responses to these issues.
The regional team will interface on a regular basis with Melinda's broader-based Modernization of Products and Software (MOPS) Team. This team comprises field representatives from offices which are currently using the IFPS, in some capacity, to generate operational forecast information. Included on this team are Chris Sohl (WFO Norman), George Mathews and Steve Nelson (WFO Tulsa), James Noel (WFO Atlanta), and Lyle Wilson (WFO Morristown).
METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES BRANCH
SPACEFLIGHT METEOROLOGY GROUP. It's been a busy few months at the SMG. See a summary of recent activities which is included as a technical attachment this month.
SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS AND OUTREACH
Early Hurricane Awareness in Miami. WFO Miami staff participated in a pre-hurricane season preparedness meeting at a mall in Naples. The meeting was an attempt to catch the seasonal visitors who will be leaving for the North shortly, but who will likely return before the end of the hurricane season. WFO Miami's exhibit premiered the Hurricane Awareness Week poster and gave away several hundred preparedness brochures. WCM Jim Lushine participated in several stage presentations, along with members of Collier County Emergency Management and media from the Naples/Fort Myers area.
The Miami International Boat Show was held at the Miami Beach Convention Center and drew an estimated 150,000 people in six days. WFO Miami and the Tropical Prediction Center set up a booth showing several movies dealing with waterspouts, hurricanes and lightning, as well as practical information for mariners. Numerous NWS publications were also distributed to the public. Most visitors made known their appreciation of the NWS and expressed positive remarks about the marine forecast as well as the hurricane advisories and warnings. This activity provided a great opportunity to interact with marine customers.
Severe Weather Awareness in West Texas. WFO Lubbock staffed a mall booth in conjunction with the Texas Severe Weather Awareness Week. They had a high-traffic location in the mall to distribute severe weather brochures, show tornado videos, and display equipment (two different NOAA Weather Radios, an entire NWS weather balloon, and an anemometer). Handouts from the West Texas Mesonet, local amateur radio SKYWARN team, and the NBC affiliate were also available. Almost 700 people visited the booth.
Midland Ham Fest. WFO Midland set up a booth, displayed tornado and flood video, and passed out brochures at the annual Midland Ham Fest. This event attracts thousands of amateur radio enthusiasts from Texas and surrounding states. The WFO Midland staff personally met many of the spotters who provide valuable weather information during severe weather and was able to establish many new relationships.
School Outreach. Shreveport MIC Lee Harrison visited seven public schools in Jacksonville, Texas to discuss tornado safety and preparedness plans. The schools included a Headstart School, two elementary schools, two intermediate schools, a middle school, and a high school. Lee was accompanied by Jacksonville ISD safety coordinator Patsy Dawson.
Career Day. Sam Martinez (WFO Brownsville) participated in the Port Isabel Junior High Career Day and spoke to approximately 100 sixth graders about his NWS career. He showed a weather balloon and radiosonde and gave locally-developed handouts to each class.
Nashville Outreach. Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian staffed a booth at a boat show at Jackson, Tennessee. A total of 339 people stopped by for boating safety brochures and brochures about NOAA Weather Radio. Jerry estimated about 80 percent of the people who stopped by the booth were familiar with NWR.
Tampa's Audubon Society Learns About Weather. WFO Tampa WCM Walt Zaleski spoke on the history of the NWS to an audience of nearly 70 senior citizens with the Eagle Audubon Society in Sun City Center, Florida. The presentation provided the audience valuable insight into the cause and impact of Florida weather hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and hail, including the on-going severe two-year drought and wildfire threat. Severe weather awareness and NOAA Weather Radio were also promoted to the group.
Memphis Teamwork. WFO Memphis traditionally shares the microphone with television meteorologists while conducting spotter talks in the four largest cities in their CWA. The broadcast meteorologists promote the talks, which significantly boost attendance. Emergency management and amateur radio personnel also participate to deliver a unified message to the public. In the wake of a killer tornado outbreak in northeast Mississippi on February 24, the spotter talk in Tupelo drew exceptionally strong interest. Sharing the stage with WFO Memphis staff were TV meteorologists from Tupelo and Columbus, Mississippi. The WFO staff held an open forum to explain the process of issuing warnings during the outbreak. There were a lot of great questions during the session, some of which came from people who had lost friends and relatives to the F3 tornado which ravaged Pontotoc, Mississippi.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATION
StormReady in Northeast Florida. WFO Jacksonville MIC Steve Letro, DAPM Mike McAllister and WCM Fred Johnson recognized Alachua and Flagler counties at each county's Board of Commissioners meeting. Both counties (Florida's first StormReady communities) were also recognized at the Florida Emergency Preparedness Association Conference. Both counties are using redundant and creative ways to distribute critical hazardous weather warning information to agencies within the county: EMWIN, pagers, E-SATCOM, e-mail, and Web pages. They also advocate NOAA Weather Radio to relay warning information.
EM Thanks WFO San Angelo. The assistant coordinator for Brady-McCulloch County (Texas) Emergency Management publicly thanked spotters and the NWS in a recent letter-to-the-editor. Here's an excerpt:
Two weeks ago we held a SKYWARN training class in Brady. On Sunday night, those spotters were put to the test, and they passed with flying colors.
One last "thank you" also needs to go to the men and women at the National Weather Service office in San Angelo. They may think that we're helping them, but they're really helping us. Their notifications to us, and their response to our input really makes the whole system work like a well-oiled machine.
Nice job, San Angelo.
MEDIA/PUBLIC/EXTERNAL CUSTOMER SUPPORT
TV Weather/Media Seminar at Shreveport. WFO Shreveport hosted a media seminar in March. All TV stations in the Shreveport CWA were invited to attend the seminar, and representatives from Louisiana stations in Shreveport and Monroe, and from Tyler, Texas, attended the seminar. As a lead-in to Severe Weather Awareness Week, the seminar concentrated on severe weather topics such as recent changes in WFO severe weather operations, interpretation of WSR-88D displays, dissemination of warnings from the WFO, how warnings are generated by WarnGen, and reviews of past severe weather events. Presentations were made by Shreveport MIC Lee Harrison, WCM Bruce Burkman, SOO Ken Falk and forecaster Mike Berry.
WFO Midland Teams with Channel 9. WCM Pat Vesper and forecaster Doug Cain participated in a joint outreach effort with Tom Tefertiller, a TV meteorologist in Midland. The outreach effort involved spotter training talks in Marfa, Alpine and Presidio, Texas. One of the project's main themes was the concept that amateur radio operators, spotters, the media, and the NWS are one team dedicated to protecting the community during hazardous weather. The joint outreach effort resulted in a total attendance increase of approximately 50 percent at the spotter training sessions.
Kudos for WFO Nashville. TV weathercaster Julia Radlick from Nashville's FOX station shadowed WFO Nashville lead forecaster Darrell Massie and forecaster Bobby Boyd during a recent shift. She enjoyed working with both men and sent the following note:
I just wanted to say thanks so much for everything. I had so much fun at your office on Monday and I learned sooo much! It's great to find such generous people who are willing to share their knowledge with other people. I have so much respect for what you do and what you know. I am reviewing everything you taught me in my meteorology books and I'm looking forward to coming again to ask more questions! Once again, thank you very much. You guys are the best!
Media Cooperation in Deep South Texas. WFO Brownsville enjoyed widespread support from (and in cooperation with) the media during Severe Weather Awareness Week. WCM Hector Guerrero reported the media helped the WFO develop themes for Severe Weather Awareness Week. Mike Castillo and Hector promoted NWR live on one TV station. Another station interviewed both Shawn Bennett (SOO) and Hector about NWR. The local NBC affiliate invited Hector to their studio to develop PSAs to be shown during severe weather. They were also featured on KURV (an English news radio station) and daily on KGBT (a Spanish news radio station). UNIVISION TV interviewed Shawn (in Spanish) concerning the watch/warning program. WFO Brownsville was featured in the headlines in the Brownsville Herald on the first day of Severe Weather Awareness Week. Finally, many schools participated in a practice tornado warning drill.
How To Stay Afloat. The Southern Region Marine Forecaster Workshop was held in Corpus Christi at the end of March. Support for the workshop was provided by the NWS training program. Marine focal points and/or forecasters from each coastal office attended. In addition to ROML and policy discussions among the offices and SRH attendees, the future of marine graphics was discussed, as well as tips and hints on marine outreach activities. Presenters finished up the last day- and-a-half of the workshop with topics including WaveWatch III, buoys, observations, research projects and wind and wave effects. Presentations at the workshop will be put on the SRH Web site.
On the first night, attendees received a tour of WFO Corpus Christi and were delighted by a cookout provided by MIC Kenneth Graham. The next night, a tour of the USS Lexington was given after hours, compliments of a local HAM radio operator. The workshop was an opportunity to discuss many important marine-related issues among all offices, and it was judged to be a great success. As one marine focal point said after the workshop, "After spending 20 years as a commercial fisherman, I was impressed with how much everyone kept the end-user in mind."
HYDROLOGIC SERVICES BRANCH
HSD MEETING. A national/regional Hydrologic Services Division meeting was held at the NWS Training Center, March 13-14. Attendees from NWSH included Greg Mandt, director of the Office of Services (OS), Glenn Austin, chief of HSD, Tom Graziano, chief of the Customer Services Branch of OS/HSD, and Jeff Zimmerman, chief, Support Branch of HSD. Greg Mandt opened the meeting and challenged participants to provide our customers with ample lead time regarding service changes, and to educate them about these changes. He also noted service initiatives require a training and education focus. A good portion of the meeting focused on the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services. Attendees agreed there needs to be a short-term AHPS implementation plan so field offices can make necessary preparations (e.g., outreach, training) in advance of upcoming AHPS implementations which affect their service area. An AHPS operations concept geared toward NWS personnel and customers will be drafted by OS/HSD and the regions. There was also discussion about drafting an AHPS outreach plan. Each of the regions provided a status on AHPS activities. OS/HSD plans to form a national AHPS graphical products team to identify customer needs for graphical hydrologic products.
OS/HSD will provide the regions with a consolidated draft list of hydrologic requirements by June 30. This list will be used to prioritize work for OS/HSD and OHD during the upcoming fiscal year. Once we receive this list, we will seek help from Southern Region offices in prioritizing these requirements.
Also discussed at the meeting was the need for an OML to create a consistent and standard lake and river summary for national weather providers. The regions agreed to create such a product using the RVD product category. The product will be SHEF encoded and will contain lake and river levels for daily forecast points. It will also contain river forecasts for these daily service locations. As a follow-up to this meeting, regional directors provided their concurrence to a draft OML on this product. The target implementation date for this new product is June 1. A product template for the WHFS river product formatter will be made available to the WFOs in the next few weeks. We will keep you posted on this implementation.
OPEN HOUSE. WFO El Paso hosted an open house for their local hydrologic partners and customers. Federal and local agencies, including the International Boundary and Water Commission, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, were invited to the meeting which featured a tour of WFO El Paso facilities, introductions to the forecast staff, and a question and answer forum. Issues concerning notification procedures during heavy rain events were extensively discussed. Based on these discussions, WFO El Paso plans to conduct additional meetings with individual customers to discuss specific items of mutual interest.
INTRODUCING FFMP. As the name implies, the Flash Flood Monitoring and Prediction Program - FFMP - has been developed to provide forecasters with automated assistance for flash flood watch and warning decision making. With AWIPS Build 5.1 FFMP will include AMBER, the Areal Mean Basin Estimated Rainfall (AMBER) program which was developed several years ago at Pittsburgh. The program continuously monitors radar-estimated rainfall rate, assesses the flash flood potential for very small basins in a WFO's CWA, and automatically flags problem areas. FFMP was developed as a collaborative effort involving the NWS, NSSL, and NCAR. A technical attachment this month provides more information about the program, particularly the delineation of small basins and how we expect to provide necessary training for implementation next year.
RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Workstation ETA (WSEta). The WSEta is now running operationally at LMRFC on a PC outside the AWIPS environment. Six-hour gridded QPF output from the model is being archived and used to compare against the operational Eta, HAS-generated QPF, and ground truth rainfall. A four-panel plot containing GIF images of these four gridded data sets is being ported to the LMRFC intranet for the staff to use.
SOUTHEAST RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Water Resource Outlook. On April 1, Southeast RFC began the offical issuance of an AHPS product called the Water Resources Outlook, a subjective assessment of surface water availability for the next 60 days in the SERFC service area based on SERFC climate, water, and weather expertise. The assessment is provided in a narrative form and is also depicted on a graphic. The WRO is posted on the SERFC home page. It will be issued monthly and is valid for the following 60 days. The NCEP/CPC hydrometeorological forecasts, ensemble streamflow predictions for selected locations, and water data (e.g., reservoir and streamflow data) from various cooperating agencies are used in the development of the WRO. The product content is also coordinated with cooperating agencies. The assessment definitions are available on the WRO Web site at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/atr/wro/default.html
Congratulations to all involved in developing this new product.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
February continued with extremely varying hydrologic conditions across the Southern Region. Central and south Florida continued abnormally dry conditions with many of the forecast points in the Tampa Hydrologic Service Area (HSA) recording record daily low flows on several days. February's trace of rainfall at the Fort Myers/Page Field airport tied for the driest February on record. Long-term rainfall deficits from October 1998 through February 2001 are over 30 inches below normal in the Tampa Bay area.
Mid-South HSAs have seen some extensive flooding from repetitive heavy rainfall. Portions of the Shreveport HSA recorded February rainfall totals ranging from 10 to near 14 inches, which is greater than 400 percent of normal. Well over 100 homes in the Shreveport HSA saw some flooding damage during February. Extensive flooding was also recorded in the Little Rock HSA with several major roads closed due to high water. February was the fourth wettest on record for the Dallas/Fort Worth area with over six inches of rain at the DFW Airport. Several reservoirs in the Fort Worth HSA recorded 5 to 10 foot increases in their pool levels during the month.
Meanwhile, deficits are over 20 inches below normal in the Brownsville, Texas, area for the three-year period 1998-2000.
LARC REPLACEMENT NEWS. NWS Headquarters has decided to replace the obsolete LARCS (Handar 550A data loggers) with Handar 555ES models. The replacement will be done in phases based on the funding available to purchase equipment. Several WFOs across the country will test these new data loggers over the next two months. Should the test be successful, initial deployment will occur this summer. These data loggers will have 9600 baud modems as well as a voice chip so data can be retrieved via a regular phone call. More information on this important project will be passed along as it becomes available.
DISEMINATION ENHANCEMENT TEAM
Following is a summary of regional projects which are underway in collaboration with NOAA's Forecast System Lab.
EMDS - EMERGENCY MANAGER DECISION SUPPORT. EMDS is now in use at two Southern Region sites, WFOs Miami and Tulsa. Emergency managers in both areas are beginning to use the software. A third office, WFO Atlanta, will be installing the software soon. For an example, see http://www.srh.noaa.gov/data/emds/mfl/.
GFESUITE - GRAPHICAL FORECAST EDITOR. GFESuite is now in use at three Southern Region sites, WFOs Tulsa, Tampa Bay Area, and Lubbock. Lubbock will begin producing a graphical thunderstorm outlook later this spring, while by April 16 Tampa Bay Area will produce a graphical marine forecast containing winds, weather and seas. An example of Lubbock's outlook is at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lub/rpp/ato_frames.htm.
WFO Tulsa, which has had GFESuite much longer than the other offices, is using it to generate almost all of their products. They do this by editing the gridded fields on the GFESuite Linux computer, and shipping them to the AWIPS IFPS. The AWIPS IFPS then generates the zones and other forecast products, such as the preformat for the AFD. Tulsa also uses GFESuite to produce a specialized Revised Digital Forecast (RDF) for fire weather, as well as the entire standard fire weather package. An example of the specialized RDF is at:
http://www.nwstulsa.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/fwf.pl?county=wagoner, while the fire weather forecast is at:
LINUX D2D. Linux D2D is at WFOs Knoxville/Tri-Cities and San Angelo. The sites report the workstations are much faster than the AWIPS HP D2D, however, they seem to lack the complete set of tools, for example, SCAN and FFMP. The sites also report they can generate products with warngen, but can't actually transmit them. Finally, they report the Linux workstation does not get as much use as it should because forecasters prefer the two-monitor HP workstations over the one- monitor Linux workstation. They will continue to work with FSL to further evaluate and resolve these issues.
E-PAPERS. Here are a few examples of local studies and significant event reviews which demonstrate the potential for electronic sharing of such information.
"Extended Forecast Verification at the Warning and Forecast Office at Nashville, Tennessee," by Mark A. Rose, Scott Dickson, and Darrell Massie, WFO Nashville.
"Monday 12 March 2001 Storm Damage - NWS Survey Results," by the staff at WFO Mobile. A county-by-county assessment of windstorm damage from one of the most significant events of recent years, complete with video clips, radar imagery, and air and ground survey results. http://www.srh.noaa.gov/mob/mar12damage.htm
Similar to the above, WFO Tallahassee posted a timely review of three tornadoes which touched down in their CWA during the early morning hours of March 15 this year.
SHORT TERM ARCHIVE OF RADAR IMAGERY. The SRH Scientific Services Division has implemented an on-line archive of radar images. This isn't intended to replace other means of archiving data, but it does provide a simple solution to the common problem of not having radar images a day or two after a significant weather event. It takes advantage of and is an extension of the same images that are posted in real-time to the Web sites as part of the national radar project, but only one hour's data are posted on the Web sites. The region now saves the last three days' images online for the field offices and regional headquarters to access. This short-term archive has already greatly facilitated storm surveys and case studies of events.
The three-day archive is available at:
Images are stored by radar site and include all 0.5 deg reflectivity images for the entire 24-hr period. The files are stored in a "tar" file which is easily opened using compression programs such as WinZip. We have already received positive comments from WFOs along the lines of "Great - it's about time!"
TEST OF NCEP HIGH RESOLUTION NESTED MESO-ETA UNDERWAY. The Mesoscale Modeling Branch of NCEP's Environmental Modeling Center plans to implement in June special high resolution (~10 km grid spacing) runs of the Eta model. These runs will use the current 22 km Meso-Eta model for the initial and boundary conditions. There are two possible options for this implementation:
1) Run the nested grid several times daily over a floating area (a "threats" run) to monitor a significant weather system, coordinated with the regions, similar to the GFDL hurricane model;
2) Run the model once each day, at different times, for each of several pre-defined areas.
The latter option has been temporarily chosen to permit all the NWS field offices a chance to evaluate the output on some regular schedule. At 0000 UTC runs are made for the Eastern U.S., Alaska and Hawaii. At 1200 UTC runs are made for the western and central U.S. and Hawaii. NCEP is considering a possible run at 1800 UTC for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands using a small nest similar to that used for the Hawaiian Islands.
If and when these runs become operational there will be one nest run at each time (0000, 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC). Since these "threats" runs share the time slot on the IBM SP computer reserved for the GFDL hurricane model, whenever the GFDL model is run no nested Eta run will be made.
Details can be found in Goeff DiMego's recent CAFTI presentation at:
Eric Rogers has set up a Web page with output from the nested runs at:
Please take a look at these sites. Later we'll be asking for feedback so we can summarize a response to NCEP. Note the Web page includes links to directories on the NCEP ftp server where GRIB files from each model run are stored. Please resist the temptation to download these GRIB files since they are huge! (A complete 48-hr output from the central U.S. nest is over 280 Megabytes and would take more than four hours to download using our dedicated line to NWSH and the Frame Relay network lines to the field offices.) Discussions are underway with NCEP to create smaller "tiles" of the output which could potentially be downloaded and ingested into AWIPS.
ETA-22 MODEL RUNS EXTENDED TO 84 HOURS. The 84-hour extension of the ETA model was implemented at 1200 UTC on March 20. At this time the output for the additional hours is limited to internal NCEP use only until its impact on the Network Control Facility and the Satellite Broadcast Network bandwidth can be evaluated. However, output from the experimental version of the model are available on the NCEP Environmental Modeling Center's Web site at: http://www.emc.ncep.noaa.gov/mmb/mmbpll/etapll_ext/
NEW RUC-40 OUTPUT ON AWIPS. Output from the 40 km Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) model (AWIPS grid 236) is now being sent over the AWIPS Satellite Broadcast Network (SBN) and ingested into the CONUS Build 5.0 sites. Model analyses, one-, two- and three-hour forecasts are available from each hourly run of the RUC. Six-, nine- and 12-hour forecasts are available from every third run. The 40-km model guidance can be displayed on the Regional Scale in D2D. The model grids are accessible through the Families and Volume Browser menus by selecting the "RUC40" grid type.
CD-ROMS EN ESPAÑOL. SSD has received two copies of El Proceso de Pronóstico, the Spanish verison of the COMET Forecast Process CD-ROM. These were developed in cooperation with the University of Costa Rico.
We have also received CD-ROMs of climatological surface and upper air data for Mexico from the NWS International Activities Office. The surface data are from 322 surface stations for the period 1893-1998. Recorded parameters include maximum, minimum and ambient air temperature, precipitation amount, pan evaporation, state of the sky, fog, thunderstorms, and hail. The upper air data are from 15 sites in Mexico for the period 1948-1998. (Note the upper air data are also available on the Radiosonde Data of North America CD-ROMs published by the National Climatic Data Center which are already in every office's electronic library.)
Please call Bernard Meisner in SSD if you would like any of these CD-ROMs.
LONG-RANGE ENSEMBLES. The Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) of NCEP has added two short case studies to their on-line training material which is available on the global ensemble home page: http://sgi62.wwb.noaa.gov:8080/ens/enshome.html The first case is the March 4-6 East Coast snowstorm and the other is the March 12-13 Gulf of Mexico heavy rain event. Also available is a version of Zoltan Toth's presentation on ensemble forecasting from the NCEP and Regional SOOs meeting held last November at NCEP.
Both cases emphasizes the potential utility of ensemble forecasts by providing an indication of the uncertainty of the ensemble output. Quoting from the EMC training material: "The expected reliability of weather forecasts shows drastic variations depending on the daily flow configuration. On certain days a ten-day forecast may have highly predictable features in it; on other days a three- day forecast may have features which have very little or no predictability. Ensemble forecasts can identify at the time a forecast is prepared how much predictability a particular weather feature has, given the initial uncertainty in the analysis and the time evolution of the possible atmospheric states up to a particular lead time of interest."
The EMC routinely produces maps of the relative measure of predictability (http://sgi62.wwb.noaa.gov:8080/ens/yzhu/relpred.html), and SSD has developed a user-friendly interface to these maps:
Links to all these items are available on the SSD NWP Ensemble Models page:
THUNDERSTORM DAMAGE DISTRIBUTION. The figure below is from the article "Damaging Thunderstorm Activity in the United States," by Stanley Changnon (Changnon Climatologist, Mahomet, Illinois), which appears in this month's (April) issue of the AMS Bulletin. We encourage everyone to read the article for the interesting information it contains, in addition to what's shown below. The author used adjusted property loss information to determine there were 892 thunderstorm-based catastrophic events during the period 1949-98, which amounted to $87 billion (1998 dollars). Catastrophic events caused more than $1 million in loss; severe catastrophes caused more than $35 million. Numbers in the figure total more than 892 because events often affected more than one climatological area, but it will be no surprise to note the preponderance of events (roughly half the nation's total) impacted the South and Southeast regions.
Number of thunderstorm catastrophes in each climatological region during 1949-98. Values in parenthesis are based on the number of severe thunderstorm catastrophes.
FORECASTING CONVECTION. We have added as a technical attachment this month a summary from COMET of various training materials related to forecasting convection. Most will no doubt be familiar, but we hope the summary will facilitate review, if necessary.
SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION
TELECOMMUNICATIONS. NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) circuits continue to be a major concern during the MCI transition effort. There is increased activity in this area as MCI is processing orders and attempting to install the new circuits. Problems continue with the local exchange carriers (LECs) installing four-wire circuits as opposed to two-wire ordered through MCI, DC or AC voltage on the lines, or circuit termination at the wrong location. We have been working diligently to circumvent some of these issues in conferences with MCI and feel confident they will become minor issues as we progress. With this in mind and considering past experience with MCI, we feel it is penny wise and pound foolish to order AT&T disconnects when MCI turns over circuits to us, before we have had a chance to test them. Immediate disconnects of the AT&T service for NWR sites will be ordered as soon as they check out and MCI service is accepted. Regional maintenance specialists and electronic technicians will be dispatched quickly to the NWR sites as MCI reports completion of the service to SRH. Once notification of circuit acceptance has been received from the technicians, the order will be placed to immediately disconnect service with AT&T.
All of the regional WAN (Frame Relay) circuits have been processed and installed, except for WFO San Juan. MCI has been working with local Puerto Rico telephone representatives to locate and repair available wiring to install the circuit. All of the disconnects for the regional WAN AT&T circuits have been ordered, except for the DTS circuit for San Juan. Disconnect dates range from April 6 to April 25.
We anticipate completing orders for all the transition services to MCI, while ensuring continuity of service and the communications availability for field offices in delivering our primary mission.
UPPER AIR. On March 10, WFO Atlanta lost the U/A pylon due to a burned out motor. The next morning a call was placed to the NLSC warehouse operations, and the office was informed that no ART-2 pylons were available. An emergency order for a pylon was placed on March 12. SRH checked with NRC to get a status update and was informed an ART-2 pylon had been received from the Springfield, Missouri office and it would be checked out. If no problems were found, it would be shipped to the WFO later the same day. After receiving and installing the pylon, the system was back in service. A total of six flights were missed because of the outage.
VERO BEACH ASOS. We continue to work with the FAA on the Vero Beach, Florida ASOS, in order to resolve an intermittent communications problem between the ASOS and the FAA Miami Center. An FAA tiger team is scheduled to go to Vero Beach and work on the problem this month.
AWIPS. All 31 Southern Region WFOs and four RFCs are now on AWIPS Build 5.0. Several Build 5.0 performance issues have been noted, with the main cause being the application Flash Flood Monitoring Program (FFMP) on AS1. Instructions were sent out on disabling the FFMP processor to increase the performance of AWIPS. We have also noted that during severe weather, SCAN cannot be run on the workstation as the workstation becomes unusable under the current configuration. Most offices have elected not to use SCAN on the workstation used for issuing warnings. The AWIPS program office has been very proactive and helpful in working with regional personnel to resolve the performance issues associated with this new AWIPS load.
With the new build, D2D screens are losing colors, which is impacting the way offices can view the data. Several fields of data are missing or not plotting correctly, which causes some frustration with Build 5.0. Text storage and recall has also been extremely slow with the new build, and if failed over on the secondary data server, the text storage and recall are even slower.
We hope the recent efforts to add more computing power to the AWIPS data servers will go far in resolving these issues.
IT. All Southern Region WFOs and RFCs met the deadline set by NWS Headquarters for the submission of security accreditation plans. These plans are mandatory under the Computer Security Act (Pub. L. 100-235), OMB Circular A-130, and they have been reviewed by the IG during recent office inspections. We are looking forward to receiving an endorsement from the NWS ITSO on all of these plans.
OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH
RDA FUEL TANK CORROSION. The two 250-gallon diesel fuel tanks for the Shreveport radar were removed for cleaning when the generator fuel filters stopped the engine. When inspected, both tanks were found to contain significant amounts of sludge, which consists of water, rust, and microbial growth. These tanks were constructed without a drain valve or sloped bottom to allow periodic draining of contaminants, and this problem could exist nationally. Rather than cleaning the two tanks, new tanks are being fabricated to include provisions for draining and cleaning, at a cost less than the cost for cleaning and disposing of the contaminated sludge.
DEL RIO FACILITY UPGRADE. The upgrade of the NWS Del Rio facility is now at a point where MASC can proceed with major renovations of the building. The asbestos abatement work was completed in mid-March and new flooring, plumbing, electrical and HVAC is at a state of completion which will permit the upper air contractor to continue to function unimpeded.
KEY WEST, FLORIDA. On March 20, the assistant secretary of the Navy, Duncan Holiday, signed a letter to the director of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting approval to transfer the White Street Trailer Park to the National Weather Service. Previous property transfer requests to OMB have taken anywhere from one to three months for processing.
MASC is currently seeking right of entry on the property to begin environmental assessment activities. In addition, MASC is formulating a request to obtain earlier environmental assessment reports and historical use information from the Navy which NWS has been told indicate no previous site contamination. If the property transfer continues as anticipated the design and construction project will remain on schedule. One concern which could delay the project is the Navy's ability to remove the existing trailers in a timely manner. NWS will contact the Navy to coordinate the removal activities.
NEXRAD TPS MAINTENANCE. Last January 5, SRH received an e-mail copy of the draft revised Transition Power Maintenance (TPMS) policy from the NWSH Office of Operational Systems for comment. SRH submitted 21 concerns related to the draft revised policy. The concerns included restoral requirements, funding issues, workload, complexity, bypass procedures, asset/work order requirements, and NWSEO issues.
RADIOSONDE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM. Site drawing verification for the Radiosonde Replacement System is underway at the 23 upper air sites in the Southern Region. Detailed information includes location of existing inflation buildings, communication/power run conduits with distances, towers and instruments. The data will allow prospective bidders to prepare a fixed price proposal for the installation of the Telemetry Receiver System at all CONUS upper air sites. Work will include removal of the existing ART system.
HOUSTON/GALVESTON PROJECT. The Galveston County Commissioners Court met last month to work through some of the details of the new Galveston County Emergency Services Facility. A new firm has been selected for the design. There may be other emergency service organizations interested in joining now that the project is a go, which will expand the scope of the building. Initial meetings with the new firm, county officials and weather service personnel were tentatively scheduled for the first part of this month.
ASOS ONE-MINUTE THUNDERSTORM REPORTS. Implementation of the ASOS V2.6 software means that with the activation of the FAA Automated Lightning Detection and Ranging System, FAA sponsored ASOS sites can now automatically begin and end thunderstorm reporting. However, at the present time, an apparent ASOS software problem combined with existing FAA procedures at federal contract towers is resulting in spurious one-minute thunderstorm occurrences.
SRH is working with the FAA regions in assisting FAA Headquarters to implement an operational workaround to solve the problem at the sites.
WSR-88D DIAL-UP PORT REDUCTION UNDERWAY. In conjunction with the Radar Operations Center (ROC) hotline and NWSH Communications Branch, SRH has been coordinating with WFOs on the WSR-88D dial-up port reduction. With the implementation of the AWIPS WAN/SBN, the need for WSR-88D dial-up ports has been reduced from up to seven per site to only four at interior WSR-88D sites, and only five at coastal sites. WFOs must have their AWIPS files in order as well as changes made to their legacy systems to ensure a smooth transition.
SURFACE OBSERVATION PROGRAM. Southern Region received 20 requests from the aviation community for new certificates, cancellations or changes in type of surface certificates during March.
In mid-March, we received the draft copy of NWS Observing Handbook No.7 from WSH for review. The revision centers on the deletion of Supplementary Data Observations, commonly referred to as event-driven reports.
In March, we sent out a survey to determine which offices did not receive a precision digital barometer (PDB). Station information was collected and forwarded to NWSH for offices which did not receive their PDB, and will be used to configure new PDBs in the future.
THE NATIONAL COOPERATIVE PROGRAM MANAGER (NCPM). On March 26, NCPM Andy Horvitz from NWS Headquarters worked alongside the data acquisition group at WFO Shreveport to get a better understanding of the duties associated with data acquisition. This was an excellent learning opportunity for both the NCPM and the WFO staff.
COOP AWARD NOMINATIONS. The deadline for submitting the 2001 Thomas Jefferson and John Companious Holm selections to SRH is April 10. Candidates must be forwarded to NWSH before April 15. A review committee at NWSH will select the winners by late summer. The Jefferson and Holm awards, the highest awards presented to the volunteer observers, are normally presented by the nominating WFO in a local ceremony during the late fall/early winter.
FACILITIES COMPUTERIZED MAINTENANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. In the previous 30 days, 28 work requests have been submitted, 47 work orders have been issued, and 62 work orders were completed and closed. There are 167 facility work orders open.
ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION
DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
WFO GETS COMBINED FEDERAL CAMPAIGN AWARD. During the 2000-2001 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), WFO Corpus Christi had staggering results. HMT Larry Maifeld did such a great job last year, he was asked by Coastal Bend CFC officials to be a loaned executive and a trainer for the 2000-2001 campaign. In this capacity he was charged with planning, organizing and conducting the CFC for WFO Corpus Christi and ten other federal agencies in the coastal bend. He was also selected to be a member of the Local Federal Coordinating Committee, to help select local organizations who receive funding through the CFC. WFO Corpus Christi not only reached its goal but surpassed the goal by 106 percent! This is more than double the contributions received during any of the previous six campaigns. Larry's group was able to record a 45 percent improvement over last year. As a result, the National Weather Service in Corpus Christi received the EAGLE award presented by top CFC officials. Corpus Christi weather personnel celebrated with a big barbeque and a breakfast cooked by the MIC and his wife. Thanks to all who contributed to this worthwhile cause, and nice work Larry Maifeld.
EEO TRAINING. Supervisors and program managers from SRH, WFO and RFC Fort Worth participated in a day of Equal Employment Opportunity training. David Lang of International Training Associates conducted a lively and informative session on "Preventing Discrimination in the Workplace." The session consisted of familiarizing managers with the EEO laws governing the workplace, and helping managers spot and address potential workplace issues at an early stage. The latter consisted of role playing with a supervisor dealing with one very disgruntled employee and numerous issues. All in attendance agreed the training was very helpful and worthwhile, and gave high marks to Mr. Lang for his presentation of the material.
WFO BROWNSVILLE. DAPM Jim Campbell and forecaster Mike Castillo conducted a Career Day at Russell Elementary for 300 third through fifth graders. At times, Mike Castillo had to provide Spanish interviews. Both Jim and Mike enjoyed interacting with the future of America.
Several groups also toured the office. HMT Sam Martinez and WCM Hector Guerrero gave a tour to 30 elementary students from Incarnate Word Academy, which included the balloon shelter and the operations area. SOO Shawn Bennett and Jim Campbell toured a physical geography class from South Texas Community College, including 25 students and their professor.
WFO MEMPHIS. Scott McNeil, lead forecaster, and Larry Boatman, meteorologist at CWSU Memphis, planned and arranged a diversity workshop/seminar on March 22. They first scheduled the workshop around WFO staff schedules, but then arranged for a meeting room in the Agricenter and invited other federal tenants to participate.
Scott and Larry secured Linda Carter, diversity director for Federal Express Corporation, to conduct the seminar. Ms. Carter brought a wealth of education and experience to the workshop. Twenty-four persons attended the seminar. About half of the participants were WFO Memphis employees, the remainder were from various other federal agencies (mostly USDA and NRCS) headquartered in the Agricenter.
Ms. Carter's focus on "Diversity in the Workplace" caught the interest of all those in attendance. She led a series of lively discussions and organized several participatory exercises. Although it was originally slated for two hours, participant interest held the workshop over an extra hour. The seminar/workshop was so successful that the WFO is already thinking ahead to next time.
WFO SHREVEPORT. Met intern Bill Murrell provided tours for visitors from The Bible Missionary Academy in Shreveport, and for a group of Boy Scouts from Texarkana, Texas. The tours included an upper air release. He also provided a career talk to 150 seventh graders from Benton, Louisiana.
Forecaster Mary Keiser and ASA Lisa Farrar participated as judges for the Regional Science Fair in Bossier City, Louisiana. They judged the "Earth Science Section" which consisted of entries from elementary, middle, and high schools.
HMT Christian Stapleton gave a talk on the operations of the NWS to a group of Cub Scouts from Eden Gardens Elementary School from Shreveport.
SOUTHERN REGION WORKFORCE TRANSACTIONS
MARCH 1 - 31, 2001
|Southern Region Losses|
|Name||From (Office)||Action/Transfer||From Title/Grade|
|John Simensky||CWSU ZHU||Reassignment to NWSH||Meteorologist, GS-12|
|Southern Region Gains|
|Name||To (Office)||Action/Transfer||To Title/Grade|
|Armando Garza||FAA OKC||Reassignment from WR||MIC, GS-14|
|Douglas Pearson||CWSU ZTL||New Hire||Meteorologist, GS-12|
|Steven Boyette||CWSU ZME||Reassignment from CR||Meteorologist, GS-12|
|Within Region Transfers/Actions|
|Name||To (Office)||Action/Transfer||To Title/Grade|
|Michael Bender||FAA OKC||Reassignment from CRP||Met Instructor, GS-13|
Return to Southern Region Home Page