UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
NEW DEPUTY REGIONAL DIRECTOR. I am very pleased to announce Jack Kelly, NWS Director, has selected Gary K. Grice as the new Deputy Regional Director for the Southern Region. Gary is currently the Deputy Director of the NCEP Storm Prediction Center in Norman. He will report to Southern Region Headquarters on April 11. I know Gary will make an outstanding contribution as a member of the SRH staff. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the region, including his recent work as a member of the NWS Strategic Plan development team. Gary previously worked at the Southern Region Headquarters from 1987 to 1994 as the Assistant Chief of Meteorological Services Division and MAR Transition Program Leader. Gary also received recognition for his outstanding work in the area of flash floods while a forecaster at WSFO San Antonio. He is a native Texan and a graduate of Texas A&M. Please join me in welcoming Gary back to Texas and the Southern Region.
RETIREMENT. On April 3, Betty Bales, chief of the SRH Administrative Management Division, retired after a Weather Bureau and NWS career of nearly 35 years, every day of which was spent with the Southern Region Headquarters. All MICs and HICs had an opportunity to wish Betty well at the recent MIC/HIC meeting in Memphis, and we here at SRH will miss her cheeriness and the storehouse of knowledge concerning regional operations which she will take with her. Betty and husband Roy will continue to reside in the Fort Worth area and do some long awaited traveling.
AWIPS OT&E. Corpus Christi and Tulsa will be the two Southern Region sites participating in the AWIPS build 4.2 Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E), which will begin the middle of April. The sites will be testing AFOS replacement software such as message composition and transmission, the 31 day legal product archive, TAF monitoring, and radar archiving similar to the archive IV capability of the PUP. AWIPS build 4.2 will arrive at other Southern Region sites beginning the end of May.
FACILITIES AWIPS MODIFICATIONS COMPLETE. Staff of the SOD Observations and Facilities Branch recently completed the Mobile, Alabama, electrical modifications required to accommodate AWIPS equipment delivery and installation. Mobile was the region's last site for electrical panel and circuit installation, thereby fulfilling all SR Facilities AWIPS contractual responsibilities on time. Congratulations to all who participated in this lengthy process and who helped accomplish our goals.
Southern Region Facilities is actively assisting GTE with the Satellite Ground System (SGS) grounding and circuit installation. Completion of this work will coincide with the last scheduled SGS system in Key West.
SAN JUAN AWIPS SATELLITE IMAGERY. SSD is working closely with NWSFO San Juan and the Office of Meteorology to resolve problems associated with receipt of satellite imagery at the NWSFO. Several problems have been noted, in particular, the loss of imagery types. Also, adjustment of corner points for the imagery is being looked at in order to provide the most useful products for the NWSFO service area. The San Juan office receives non-standard GOES imagery over the SBN, so special attention is needed to tailor products for their area.
HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS. We are now less than two months away from the start of the 1999 hurricane season. Most of our offices have begun planning their education and preparedness campaigns, and a few offices have already conducted activities in their local areas. Here are a few highlights.
NWSFO San Juan WCM Rafael Mojica was a guest speaker at the annual Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency meeting. Rafael's presentation was an overview of NWS hurricane operations. The meeting was covered by a local television station. After the meeting, Rafael was interviewed regarding preparedness activities on the Virgin Islands, modernized NWS services, and the upcoming hurricane season.
MIC Paul Trotter, WCM Frank Revitte, and SOO Mike Koziara represented NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge at a meeting of the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force. During the meeting, the NWS representatives discussed methods of improving coordination calls between the NWSFO, the State Emergency Management Association, and the local emergency managers. To address this issue, the task force is developing a worksheet to keep the calls focused and information moving quickly.
SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS. April is climatologically one of the most active severe weather months across the region. In the preceding weeks, our offices have kept up their aggressive severe weather preparedness efforts.
NWSO Tampa Bay WCM Walt Zaleski was a featured speaker at the annual weather preparedness seminar in Citrus Hills, Florida. During his presentation, Walt placed special emphasis on the receipt of hazardous weather information from local NWS Offices. Walt described NOAA Weather Radio and the SAME technology, and summarized the mass purchase and distribution of SAME receivers by the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
The NWSFO Austin/San Antonio Preparedness Team took part in the annual Lou Withrow Skywarn Spotter Training Program in Austin. Team members included WCM Larry Eblen, DMIC Esther Atkins, service hydrologist John Patton, and forecasters Dave Swallow, Monte Oaks, and Anthony Perez. Nearly 200 people attended the session, the second-highest audience ever. Representatives of several local television stations and river/floodplain agencies were also on the program agenda.
ALL-HAZARDS SUPPORT. WCM Jerry Orchanian (at NWSO Nashville) met with the emergency managers from Humphreys County, Tennessee and representatives from DuPont Chemical Company. DuPont has a major plant in the county, and is concerned with impacts from a hazardous materials incident. Jerry explained the potential benefits of NWR and SAME technology and the NWS' initiative to expand NWR to an all-hazards warning system. The county emergency manager has since obtained a $15,000 grant to purchase and redistribute NWR receivers in the county.
MEDIA/PUBLIC OUTREACH. Some highlights from across the region.
NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas WCM Jim Stefkovich provided in-depth interviews on La Niña and the spring weather outlook to two network television affiliates. The total time involved in the interviews was over two hours. Excerpts from the interviews were used on CBS News and on several local severe weather preparedness programs.
NWSO Tampa Bay WCM Walt Zaleski provided a 30-minute interview on NWS support provided during the 1998 Florida wildfires. The interview will be used in an upcoming science/human interest documentary produced for The Learning Channel. Walt's input will be used as scientific and operational background, then paired with human interest stories detailing people's experiences with the fires.
NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge hosted a Broadcast Meteorologist Seminar for the local television affiliates in New Orleans, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi. Subjects at the seminar included an overview of the WSR-88D Build 10 software, a review of recent severe weather cases in southwest Louisiana and southern Mississippi, NWS modernization and upcoming changes in the area, and hydrologic services and improvements. After the presentations, an open discussion was held allowing the television representatives to voice questions and concerns regarding the NWSFO's products and services. The seminar was given high marks by the attendees, and enabled the NWSFO to strengthen its relationship with the local television stations.
NEWS FROM THE CENTER WEATHER SERVICE UNITS. Southern Region Headquarters has organized a team of CWSU and WFO representatives to seek an effective solution to the problem of an RTA replacement system. Serving on the team are Tom Amis, CWSU Memphis; Dale Branch, CWSU Minneapolis; Jack Gross, NWSFO Miami; Tom Hicks, CWSU Fort Worth; Bob Jackson, CWSU Seattle; Jud Ladd, SRH; and Walt Rogers, CWSU Palmdale. The goal of the team will be to recommend both interim and long-term solutions to the replacement problem. To help facilitate the activities of the team, Tom Amis has accepted a temporary assignment to SRH beginning in mid-April.
The following is a report of recent noteworthy activities at Center Weather Service Units across the Region:
CWSU Fort Worth. MIC Tom Hicks, at the request of the Regional Director, will soon begin a tour of the regional CWSUs to assess their technological capabilities. The intent is to establish a common level of capability and means by which advancements in one unit can be transferred to the others.
CWSU Houston. The unit staff, in cooperation with FAA technicians, has recently connected all of its computers to a network and now has complete access to the Internet.
CWSU Jacksonville. CWSU staff members will be conducting a thorough operational suitability test of the FAA's new Aeronautical Information System (AIS), which was recently installed in the ARTCC. The system is the purported replacement to the currently operational GS-200 system, however, problems involving connectivity to the WARP have been reported which have raised serious concerns about the CWSUs' ability to communicate their products once the GS-200 is removed from service.
CWSU Memphis. During the week of February 15-19, Memphis ARTCC began moving the CWSU from the old air traffic control room, which had been in use since 1963, to the new Display System Replacement (DSR) control room. The DSR will provide controllers with near state-of-the-art technology along with NEXRAD data superimposed on air traffic control radar. Although the transition went smoothly, it did present logistic and communications barriers with the CWSU's primary customers, the control room staff. The CWSU staff did an outstanding job in improvising and making adjustments as challenges confronted them. Innovations (e.g., use of hand-held radios by the CWSU meteorologists) have become a part of the normal operations and have increased the CWSU's effectiveness in providing quality forecasts and advisories to the air traffic controllers.
The vital service the CWSUs provide to the Traffic Management Unit in the ARTCCs is exemplified in the following two reports from Memphis:
On January 17, 1999, an area of severe thunderstorms developed over west Arkansas and spread east across the Memphis ARTCC airspace. Larry Boatman was the meteorologist working the event. Due to Larry's dynamic interaction with TMU supervisors, alternate flight routes were established to keep aircraft away from weather impacted areas. Of special note, Larry assisted TMU personnel in finding alternate routes for a string of commuter aircraft without onboard radar.
On January 22, 1999, a second severe weather event affected the Memphis airspace. Robert Brines was the meteorologist handling the event. The previous shift meteorologist briefed Robert on the high potential for severe weather across the airspace. By completing additional analysis, he was able to verify the potential and immediately initiated discussions with TMU personnel to assist them in preparing weather avoidance plans. Due to Robert's proactive approach, the Memphis TMU prepared early to move aircraft around to maintain safety and avoid significant delays and diversions.
Great job, Larry and Bob!
AVIATION OUTREACH AT NWSO NASHVILLE. On March 20, Jerry Orchanian, WCM at NWSO Nashville, conducted a tour for 10 people from the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) chapter from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. They were impressed with the WSR-88D, the radiosonde and weather balloon, ACARS, and the satellite imagery. Forecaster Scott Dickson explained the operational concept of ACARS to the group and how forecasters can now receive temperature, moisture, and wind information from aircraft during their ascent from or descent to an airport.
FIRE WEATHER TRANSFER NEWS. On March 15, weather offices in Melbourne, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Houston/Galveston, Austin/San Antonio, and Miami assumed full responsibility for fire weather products and services within their areas of responsibility. With the exception of a few communication glitches in the first day or two following the transfers, the process was extremely successful. The credit goes to staff members at each office who worked so hard in coordinating the transfers with land management agencies.
CRITICAL WEATHER DAYS. NCEP has a formal "Critical Weather Day" policy that applies whenever there is an on-going or threatened occurrence of a critical weather or flood event within the U.S. or its territories, or near their coastlines. When a CWD is declared NCEP will ensure all possible steps are taken to maintain the timely production and distribution of their products. Operational implementations and systems tests or changes will be postponed, non-operational model runs may be curtailed, and other planned activities that might disrupt operations may be postponed.
An initiating request to declare a CWD may come from a regional director, any NCEP director or lead forecaster, the NCEP Chief Operations Officer or the Senior Duty Meteorologist (SDM). Requests are made to the SDM. Southern Region offices should use the established severe weather contact procedures to enlist SRH assistance in the event a CWD is deemed necessary, and a declaration has not already been made by NCEP.
ONE STOP SHOPPING INITIATIVE STATUS. The joint Southern, Central, and Eastern Region efforts to establish a One Stop Shopping Web site for hydrologic forecasts and information is moving forward. A strategy has been developed that addresses the issue of a product single identifier containing multiple types of information, which causes difficulties in product selection for posting to the Web site.
WSOM E-CHAPTER UPDATES. Both chapters E-11 (RFC Operations) and E-21 (WFO Operations) of the Weather Service Operations Manual are near their final draft stages. Final modifications of the language in Chapter E-21 are being worked out for Southern Region approval. The Region has already concurred with the latest draft of Chapter E-11.
SOUTH TEXAS FLOOD SERVICE ASSESSMENT. The Service Assessment Report on the October 17-22, 1998, flood event in South Texas was released to the public on March 10. Each Southern Region office should have received at least one copy in the mail. If you have not, or need additional copies, please contact HSD.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Below Normal Rainfall Amounts Recorded Across Most Of The Southern Region During February. February was a very dry month for several Southern Region HSA's. Rainfall totals across central Florida were generally less than a half inch. Little or no rainfall was recorded in West Texas, with many locations in the Lubbock, Midland, and El Paso HSA's not measuring any rainfall at all during February. Only nine percent of the February normal precipitation was recorded across New Mexico. Although showers were a bit more numerous over the New Orleans HSA, February ended being the second driest on record for most of their HSA.
HYDROLOGIC TRAINING MEETING. Ben Weiger, deputy chief of HSD, will represent SR at a national meeting on hydrologic training in Kansas City, April 6-8. Representatives at the meeting will review and recommend changes, as appropriate, to a proficiency-based training plan drafted by the Office of Hydrology, for positions with full- and part-time operational responsibilities in the Hydrologic Services Program. The results of this meeting will be used to develop a Professional Development Series (PDS) for hydrology that will organize and support the training requirements for positions with responsibilities in the NWS hydrologic program.
NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
SOUTHEAST RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Training Seminar. On February 23, HIC John Feldt and his staff conducted a training session for individuals from NWSO Tallahassee on RFC hydrometeorological operations. Joel Lanier, senior service hydrologist, Marty Trexler and T.J. Turnage, senior forecasters, and Alan Baker, HMT, participated from the NWSO. The training HAS operations, hydrologic forecasting, inter-office coordination, and the SERFC's hydrologic area expert program. On February 24, John Feldt coordinated with Albany Dam officials to provide the NWSO Tallahassee staff a tour of the dam facilities and a review of dam operations. The NWSO staff found the training and the field trip very educational and worthwhile. They praised SERFC personnel for the excellent training session. John, congratulations on your efforts to train your internal customers!
WEST GULF RIVER FORECAST CENTER
System Monitor for AWIPS Hydrologic Operations. Chris Bovitz, hydrologic forecaster, is developing an AWIPS system monitor that will aid forecasters with the monitoring of various functions, programs, and data feeds critical to daily hydrologic forecast operations at the RFC. The monitor checks various processes such as Hydrometeorological Automated Data System product reception, WSR-88D Hourly Digital Precipitation product reception, Operational Forecast System status, SHEF decoding, QPF product reception, and other system-related functions. The monitor executes from a cron every 5 minutes. If you have any questions about this system monitor, please contact Chris Bovitz at the RFC. Nice job, Chris!
Dam Emergency Action Plan Tabletop Exercise. On March 19, the Sabine River Authority conducted a tabletop exercise to evaluate interagency coordination during a January 19 - February 12 flood that occurred downstream from Toledo Bend reservoir. The flood was primarily due to reservoir releases. NWS attendees at the meeting were Mike Shultz, hydrologic forecaster from WGRFC, and MIC Steve Rinard and WCM Roger Erickson from NWSO Shreveport. Other attendees included emergency managers from Texas and Louisiana, representatives from Toledo Bend Reservoir, and representatives from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
This exercise satisfied a FERC requirement that its dam emergency action plans be tested and evaluated every five years. Several topics were discussed during the evaluation meeting. This included (1) improved information sharing and communication among Toledo Bend Reservoir personnel, emergency managers, and the NWS, (2) the possibility of installing a NOAA Weather Radio transmitter at Toledo Bend Reservoir, and (3) having the Corps of Engineers conduct a dredging study on the lower Sabine River to address silt inundation in this reach of the river, which is causing additional flooding due to reduced conveyance of the river.
On a related note, West Gulf RFC recently provided NWSO Lake Charles with the results of a reservoir release study for Toledo Bend Reservoir and its impacts on Sabine River forecast points within the NWSO's HSA. This information will be used by Lake Charles as a tool for issuing preliminary flash flood/river flood products due to major releases from Toledo Bend Reservoir. Several emergency managers, who provide service to counties located within the vicinity of the Sabine River, also will use this information to support their operations. Nice job, Mike!
NATIONAL WEATHER ASSOCIATION AWARDS. In a memo addressed to all Southern Region offices, the regional director has asked for nominations for the several NWA awards. Nominations should be sent to SSD by May 30, and we will forward them to the NWA awards committee. We have been successful many times in previous years in having our employees recognized by the NWA, and the many significant weather events - and outstanding performance - of the past year should provide ample opportunity for new awards.
COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH PROJECTS. Southern Region offices are involved in seven proposals which have been submitted in response to the UCAR/COMET Outreach Program RFP. If funded, these multi-year projects will link the following universities and offices in a variety of joint applied research efforts which specifically address NWS science priorities and operational forecast and warning needs.
Univ. of Miami NWSFO and CWSU Miami, NWSO Key West
Georgia Tech NWSFOs Atlanta and Birmingham
Univ. of South Florida NWSOs Tampa Bay and Melbourne, NWSFO Albuquerque
Univ. of Oklahoma/NSSL NWSFOs Norman and Dodge City
Univ. of Quebec NWSOs Tallahassee and Key West
Texas A&M NWSO Lake Charles
Florida State Univ. NWSO Mobile
WDM Teletraining for MICS and HICS. At the Southern Region MIC/HIC meeting in early March, attendees were provided with a one-hour teletraining session derived from the OSF Warning Decision-Making workshop. Liz Quoetone, OSF Operations Training Branch instructor, provided the session, which was based on an overview that NWSO San Angelo forecaster Patrick McCullough distilled from his attendance at the WDM workshop last year. Patrick delivered his version via teletraining to seven Southern Region offices (and the OSF) in early February. Liz's presentation was well received by the MICs and HICs, who now have a better understanding of the importance of the WDM workshop. All Southern Region WFOs have sent at least one participant to that workshop.
Materials from Liz's presentation are available on the SR teletraining server "ronald" (188.8.131.52) at:
The Professional Development Workstations (PDWs) should have ftp permission to access this server. Also available are materials from the MIC/HIC tropical storm session conducted by John Guiney from the NCEP Tropical Prediction Center. They are at:
Southern Region Teletraining Series. From March 31 to April 2, Bernard Meisner (SSD) conducted a series of four one-hour teletraining seminars titled "Making it Rain Inside a Computer: Cumulus Parameterization Schemes in the NCEP Models." The sessions were "attended" by a total of about 110 staff members at 20 Southern Region offices, as well as faculty and students at St. Louis University and Florida State (CITM). Bernard's presentation was just one in a continuing series of regional teletraining seminars that are scheduled for the coming months. Several upcoming seminars will be provided by the WFOs and cooperative institutes.
NWSTC Teletraining. The NWSTC has scheduled ten sessions of their Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCS) Propagation teletraining in April, May and June. This session is a two-hour lesson that describes operational techniques for determining the movement (or propagation) of MCSs. The schedule is available by following the link on the SSD Training and Professional Development Web page, accessed from http://www.srh.noaa.gov.
To reserve a port for a specific lesson, contact the NWSTC Student Activities Coordinator, Denise Lewis, either by cc:Mail or by telephone (816-880-9594 x 239). Ports are available on a first come, first serve basis. Offices may reserve up to three dates for any given lesson unless otherwise stated in the scheduling section for a particular lesson. Reservations will be accepted up to one week prior to the lesson. This cutoff is needed in order to allow audio bridge reservations to be made in a timely fashion and to allow time for lesson information and materials to be sent to participating sites.
VISIT Teletraining. The Virtual Institute for Satellite Integration Training (VISIT) will be offering teletraining sessions on three topics this month. Offices can register for one or more of these sessions by visiting the Integrated Sensor Training Profession Development Series (ISTPDS) Web page at: http://www.cira.colostate.edu/ramm/visit/ecal.asp.
The training sessions will be approximately one hour long and will require a fast PC with at least 64 Mb of memory and a network connection. Although the office PDW can be used for this teletraining, the VISIT sessions will not use the usual Optel system. The files for each session will be downloaded prior to the training and are easily installed with a self-extracting executable file on a windows PC. Further instructions will be provided to participants. The VISIT is offering these sessions at a relevant but busy time of the year. It is recognized that on-going weather may preempt participation by some offices. The topics are:
More detailed information about each teletraining topic is included in a technical attachment to this Topics.
SHREVEPORT SEMINARS. NWSO Shreveport hosted two seminars in March. Ethan Jolly (Lower Mississippi RFC) visited the NWSO and discussed RFC operations and integration of QPFs into river forecasts. He also reviewed flash flood guidance products and their usefulness in forecast and warning operations.
Mark Darrow from the NCEP Storm Prediction Center traveled to the NWSO and discussed duties of the SPC forecasters and SPC watch philosophy. He also described an experimental probabilistic outlook graphic which is described in the next item. Mark presented two case studies, including the January 21-22, 1999 tornado outbreak in Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. About 20 staff members participated in Mark's two seminars, including visitors from NWSFO Jackson and NWSO Lake Charles.
SATELLITE TRAINING AT KEY WEST. Carol Vaughn, a meteorologist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University, will visit NWSO Key West next week to provide three days of training for the staff on the operation and use of RAMSDIS (Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Satellite Data and Interpretation System). This PC-based satellite display system was developed several years ago by the NOAA/NESDIS RAMSDIS team at CIRA, and as both a training and operational tool it has proved itself to be an important part of modernization for the NWS. There are seven RAMSDIS systems in the Southern Region, and SSD has relocated those from office to office in order to use them to maximum advantage prior to the delivery of AWIPS. The added capabilities of RAMSDIS at Key West should prove invaluable, given the data-sparse surrounding waters.
TRAINING FOR FORECASTING SEVERE CONVECTION. COMET has completed the third and last portion of the Web module "Mesoscale Convective Systems: Squall Lines and Bow Echoes." This comprises section W4.3 of the Forecasting Severe Convection PDS, and it can be accessed on the MetEd Web site at: http://meted.ucar.edu/convection/mcs.
Part three includes a short introduction and five small case exercises which allow students to apply the concepts they learn to actual events. Many updates have been made to other sections as well, including graphics changes and improvements to some text explanations. A module test has also been included and can be used as a pre- or post-test. It is available from the MetEd Learning Resources page. The answer key URL will be provided to SOOs.
More details are provided in the COMET summary which is included as a technical attachment this month.
COMET CASE STUDY RELEASED. COMET has also released Case Study #16 which involves a severe weather event in Kansas and Missouri on July 4, 1995. The Case Study is available for searching, browsing, and ordering for ftp download through the CODIAC WWW system. A detailed description of the case, a lab exercise and other training support documentation are available at: http://www.comet.ucar.edu/resources/cases/c16_04jul95/
WATADS 10.1 RELEASED. The WSR-88D Algorithm Testing And Display System (WATADS) Version 10.1 software is now available for release to the NEXRAD community. This software tool emulates the WSR-88D meteorological algorithms, allowing users to view archived Level II base data, execute WSR-88D and NSSL algorithms, change algorithm parameters and examine the results of those changes.
Significant changes with this version of WATADS include the addition of the Snow Accumulation Algorithm (SAA), the Areal Mean Basin Estimated Rainfall (AMBER) algorithm, and an updated Precipitation Algorithm to reflect implementation of the Build 9.0 precipitation processing subsystem. Some minor house-keeping changes have been made to the WSR-88D version of TDA. These changes should not have any effect on the identification of TVSs or ETVSs.
It should be noted there is a significant time investment required in order to prepare the AMBER algorithm for use in flash flood events. NSSL estimates approximately two man months will be required to complete the basin delineation process using ArcView software. The process is described on the WATADS WWW site. WATADS is available through anonymous ftp at ftpnssl.nssl.noaa.gov and in the /usr1 directory on the SRH model output server. Installation instructions and other WATADS information is also available at: http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/~watads.
NEW PRODUCTS ON RAMSDIS ONLINE. The RAMSDIS Online Experimental Products (ROLEX) Web page (http://www.cira.colostate.edu/ramm/rmsdsol/main.html) is geared towards experimental products generated from the GOES Imager and Sounder. Explanation of the individual products are available through the More Info links. The Sounder products are generated from 10 km spatial resolution data in 19 channels. Sounder images are displayed with a 5 km spatial resolution in 24-frame/24-hour loops. The Imager products are generated at 4 km spatial resolution in eight-frame loops. Data from GOES-East are at 30-minute temporal resolution covering 4 hours; data GOES-West are at 15 minute temporal resolution, covering 2 hours.
NCEP TECH ATTACHMENT. We have summarized several significant NCEP model and guidance developments in a technical attachment to this month's Topics.
EXPERIMENTAL SPC PROBABILITY FORECASTS. The NCEP Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is incorporating probability concepts into their suite of forecast products for severe local storms. This new scheme is based on feedback from an earlier experimental program and includes improvements suggested by users. The expected likelihood of large hail, damaging winds and tornadoes will be conveyed in terms of probabilities. A separate probability graphic will be produced for each of these three severe weather elements at both 1300 and 2000 UTC, in conjunction with the regularly scheduled convective outlooks. As the experiment progresses, additional probability forecasts may be added at 1630 UTC and other scheduled outlook times.
Probability forecasts are expected to allow forecasters more flexibility in producing forecasts, plus the graphics will provide more explicit information regarding the severe weather threat. The SPC has already received feedback from emergency managers and other non-NWS users, however, they would also like to hear from forecasters. The outlooks and an on-line evaluation form are available at: http://www.spc.noaa.gov/products/outlook/otlkform.htm
Y2K ACTIVITIES. The potential for possible interruption of vital NWS services has raised "Y2K" amelioration plans to a high level of importance. The Business Continuity and Contingency Plan (BCCP) for Southern Region was used as a starting point for coordination among the regions to reach a generic plan that could be used as a basis for all the regional plans. After a conference call, Tom Schwein (CRH/SOD) agreed to use all the suggestions provided by the other regions to tailor a generic BCCP. The generic BCCP was then modified to meet specific Southern Region requirements. This latest iteration of the BCCP was discussed during a video teleconference conducted by NWS Chief Financial Officer Ted David which included the regional directors and regional Y2K focal points. The Southern Region BCCP plan will be sent to all the MICs and HICs for their concurrence and signature. As part of planning for Y2K, all offices will be accessible by cell phone. Cell phone numbers are being gathered from all MICs/HICs and a complete list will be sent to all offices.
NETSCAPE 4.51 ENTERPRISE EDITION. By now, all offices should have access to the latest Netscape Enterprise Edition Version 4.51 which contains Netscape's latest Browser, Messenger, and Calendar tools. Although we have not yet set up a server to handle messages and calendar sharing, the Calendar tool can be used in an offline mode and makes a good replacement for the old Lotus Organizer product. The Messenger tool can be used to access mail from a personal Internet Service Provider if one is available in place of Microsoft Outlook. The Browser tool has features such as the ability to get to a site such as by simply typing in amazon which the Browser tool automatically expands. FTP and Telnet sessions can also be ran using the Browser, and Calendar and Messenger tools can be started from it as well. By using this product now, we will be able to make a smooth transition in using the Netscape electronic mail products when they are installed in Southern Region.
KEY WEST OFFICE CONSTRUCTION. The Key West office construction is progressing on schedule. Relocation preparations continue with on-site work scheduled to begin April 22. A team of five facility technicians along with the regional maintenance specialist will assemble on site to assist the local staff with relocation activities.
CLIMBING SAFETY PROGRAM. Once each office's Environmental and Safety focal point provides information about their climbing harness or belts, that information will be forwarded to NWSH with the expectation that funding will be identified to not only equip each site with OSHA-approved equipment, but also to schedule training for those required to climb towers, RDA's, or other structures as part of their normal job duties. The first climbing class was held last month at the OSF in Norman with two attendees from Southern Region. The three-day class was provided by a contractor and consisted of a day and a half of classroom work followed by another day and a half of actual climbing activities. Future classes are pending decisions on where and when they can best be scheduled, with minimal impact on our operations.
ASOS SYSTEM MANAGER COURSE ON-LINE. The NWS Training Center ASOS System Manager Course is now available on-line. Five of the six lessons for this course are available at: www.nwstc.noaa.gov/d.HMD/ASM/SysMgr.HTML. Course goals and objectives, and details regarding registration will be found on the home page at this site. The lesson on ASOS Quality Control is still under development and should be available before next summer.
This on-line course replaces the original in-residence version at the NWSTC. Excepting those who may have attended the latter, all DAPMs are encouraged to complete this new course, along with HMTs and others who require the training.
BUILD 10 INSTALLATION. The latest NEXRAD Software-Build 10-was released by the OSF to field offices in the fall of 1998. All Southern Region WFOs have now successfully completed the installation of the Build 10 software at their applicable WSR-88D locations.
REMOTE INTERFACE DATA DISPLAY SYSTEM (RIDDS). The University of Oklahoma Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS) has recently been approved for access to real-time base data from the Lubbock (KLBB) and Amarillo (KAMA) WSR-88D Radar Product Generators (RPG). The OU/CAPS uses the data to perform real-time experiments of ingesting base data from multiple WSR-88Ds into regional numerical weather prediction models to assess the value of coarse-resolution (30km) ensemble forecasts relative to a much smaller number of intermediate (10km) and high (2-3km) resolution forecasts for the same region. The results of this experiment will have a direct application to the proposed NCEP and AWIPS regional model operation of ingesting WSR-88D data into regional models.
In addition to WSR-88D data from Lubbock and Amarillo, OU/CAPS is also receiving base WSR-88D data from the WSR-88Ds at Ft. Worth, Norman, Tulsa, and Ft. Smith, as well as several sites in the NWS Central Region.
ASOS COMMISSIONINGS. The ASOS at Sarasota, Florida (KSRQ) was commissioned on March 17, replacing the AWOS that was previously installed at the site. All nine ASOS locations in the NWSO Tampa Bay county warning area are now commissioned. Thanks to the staff of Ruskin for their assistance in these endeavors.
NWSO BROWNSVILLE. Jim Campbell, DAPM, and HMT Alfredo Vega participated in a Career Day at Perez Elementary School for approximately 300 students and teachers from the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. They discussed careers in meteorology and the NWS, answered numerous questions and showed tornado videos. Fred communicated with many of the younger students who spoke only Spanish.
NWSFO FORT WORTH. MIC Skip Ely conducted a 90 minute office tour for 16 youngsters and two teachers from a Tarrant County Christian Academy. The group included 11 women, one Asian-American, and two African-Americans. Skip also conducted a tour for a young lady interested in meteorology. She is taking courses from a local community college, and correspondence courses from Mississippi State. She indicated she intends to attend the University of Oklahoma.
NWSO SHREVEPORT. Forecasters Bill Parker and Mike Berry judged the Northwest Louisiana Regional Science Fair at the Bossier Civic Center in Bossier City, Louisiana. All students received a letter of encouragement to continue their studies in science and a merit certificate from the National Weather Service Office in Shreveport.
Bill Parker gave a talk on NWS operations and modernization to 20 students (10 minority) from Evangel High School in Shreveport. Lead forecaster Glen Carrin gave a tour to a local Girl Scout so she could earn credits in weather for her scouting. She came well-prepared with written questions for Glen! Glen answered her questions and also showed her AWIPS and upper air facilities.
NWSFO SAN JUAN. WCM Rafael Mojica evaluated around 15 science fair projects at the elementary and junior high school level at a science fair at the private Catholic school La Piedad in Carolina, Puerto Rico. The projects covered physics and earth science, and several dealt with La Niña, El Niño, and hurricanes. Students were interviewed as part of the evaluation process. During the month of January and February NWSFO staff members provided assistance to eight school students on science fair projects.
Twelve Girl Scouts from Sagrados Corazones School toured the NWSFO. Rafael conducted the tour discussing NWS operations. They were impressed by the WSR-88D PUP capabilities.
Forecaster Miguel Sierra conducted an office tour for 35 students from the San Juan Baptist Academy. He also conducted a one hour presentation on hurricanes, tornadoes, and flash floods for 200 students at the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Private School.
HMTs Benjamin Aponte and Antonio Castillo conducted an office tour for 36 high school students from the municipality of Barranquitas.
Lead forecaster Scott Stripling and HMT Jesus Figueroa conducted an office tour for a home school group of 22 students.
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