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Fort Worth, Texas

August 2000



SUPPORT FOR WESTERN REGION WILDFIRES. The outbreak of wildfires in the West is the worst in fifty years and it has caught the attention of the entire nation. The Southern Region is providing support to help fight the fires, along with the other regions, andit's likely our efforts will increase over the coming weeks. Chuck Maxwell, IMET from Albuquerque, is currently providing on-site services in Colorado; his second assignment there within the past month. Newly-certified IMET from Midland, Greg Murdoch, has been pressed into service at a fire complex in Montana. Other Southern Region staff are standing by to provide additional support. SSD and MSD have been working closely with both NIFC and the Western Region to coordinate efforts in providing data and on-site forecaster assistance, and to ensure NWS support continues unabated until conditions improve. I applaud the exceptional efforts on the part of the many Southern Region employees who are involved in this prolonged and costly fire emergency. In situations such as this, the NWS has no regional boundaries.

CONSTRUCTION BEGINS AT FSU. It may have taken ten years to reach this point, but last month construction began on the Florida State University campus for the building which will house WFO Tallahassee. Reaching this point has taken considerable effort on the part of many in the NWS, and close coordination among FSU, SRH and NWSH staff. Completion and move-in are expected late next year. The facility will be adjacent and joined to the Love Building, which houses the Meteorology Department. The NWS will occupy the top (5th) floor. Arrangements have been made to post photographs of construction progress on the WFO Web site.

NEW DIVISION, NEW CHIEF. The Southern Region's Meteorological Services and Hydrologic Services divisions have been combined in a new Climate, Water and Weather Division. Details are in the CWWD section of this Topics. Steven Cooper, former acting chief of MSD for the past two years, has been appointed chief of the new division. Prior to his SRH assignment, Steven served as MIC at The Amarillo and Bristol, Tennessee offices. He also worked at Albuquerque and Augusta, Georgia. Steven has an MS in Geography (Climatology) from the University of New Mexico and a B.S. degree in Meteorology from FSU. He was recently selected as one of the ten participants for the NWS Senior Leadership Potential Program. Steven has numerous awards in his career including a Bronze Medal for his efforts as leader for weather support for the 1996 Summer Paralympics.

NEW MIC AT WFO NORMAN. I am pleased to announce the latest of several recent MIC selections. Mike Foster, SOO at WFO Fort Worth, has been named MIC at WFO Norman, Oklahoma, following the transfer of former MIC Dennis McCarthy to his new job as Central Region Director. Mike, an MS graduate from the University of Oklahoma, began his career in meteorology in January 1985 at the US Army Atmospheric Sciences Laboratory at White Sands, New Mexico. In October of that year he joined the NWS as part of the SSD staff at Southern Region Headquarters. With MAR and AWIPS looming, Mike assumed a unique position in 1988 at WSFO Norman as the Techniques Development/Technology Transfer specialist. He was the Pre-AWIPS Application Program Manager in Norman from August 1990 until May 1992, when he returned to Fort Worth as the DMIC of the WSFO. In August 1993 he assumed the SOO position at Fort Worth.

Mike has distinguished himself with a long list of significant accomplishments and awards - including the DOC Silver Medal and NOAA Administrator's Award. Congratulations, Mike, on your new appointment.

REGIONAL SYSTEMS SUPPORT GROUP FORMED. The Southern Region Web server and related Internet operations have become critical to the day-to-day operations of our region. To ensure the best coordination of all the activities associated with developing and maintaining the hardware and software associated with server operations, we have created a dedicated team consisting of Bruce Marshak (SOD) and Susan Beckwith (SSD). Functioning now as the RSSG their primary mission will be to ensure the reliability of the regional server and field access to Internet. In doing that they will work with the field offices, all SRH divisions, NWS Headquarters, NOAA and DOC. The RSSG will function as part of the regional director's office during its tenure, which we expect to last for at least several months. The following section provides additional information.


This section of each month's Topics will highlight activities of the RSSG and help ensure that everyone is aware of important developments regarding the evolving technology associated with the regional server and Internet access. Readers will recall that until recently the RD's section of Topics was immediately followed by an AWIPS section. The intent then was the same as now. With commissioning, AWIPS has matured to the stage where information can be conveyed in the usual manner. We have come a long way in the past year in terms of developing the regional server but there is more to be done. We will use this section of Topics to report on progress and related items.

Questions and comments are encouraged. Please contact Bruce or Susan during normal working hours through their SOD or SSD telephone numbers. After hours to deal with Internet or server problems they may be contacted by pager at (877) 955-4309 (Bruce), or (800) 594-8494 (Susan).


NEW NAME, NEW FACES. With this issue of the Topics we introduce what will be a new look for SRH divisions - in both name and faces. The Meteorological Services Division, in combination with the Hydrological Services Division, has become the Climate, Water and Weather Division. To better mirror the changes that are taking place at NWS Headquarters, SRH has taken a bold step and combined the former two divisions into one. This move will streamline basic operational services in order to better serve our customers, within the NWS and outside. This is the first change to the region's divisional structure since creation of the Systems Operations Division in the late 1980s.

The new division will have two branches: Jud Ladd will be chief of the Climate and Weather Branch, and Ben Weiger will serve as chief of the Water Branch. Jud formerly managed the region's aviation and fire weather programs in MSD, and Ben was formerly Deputy HSD Chief. In addition to the restructuring, there have been a number of other recent personnel moves involving MSD staff. Following is a summary of the changes.

Melinda Bailey reported on August 7 as new manager of the Public and Marine Services programs. Melinda, formerly a senior forecaster at NWSO Jacksonville, replaces Ken Graham, new MIC at WFO Corpus Christi.

Larry Vannozzi (WCM at NWSFO Lubbock) will report for duty the first week of September to assume Gary Woodall's role as Regional WCM/External Affairs meteorologist. Gary was recently selected for the WCM position at NWSFO Fort Worth.

Tim Troutman will replace Doug Crowley later this month as the new NOAA Weather Radio Program Manager. Doug was recently selected as MIC at WFO Grand Junction. Tim is currently a senior forecaster at WFO Melbourne.

A vacancy is currently open to fill behind Jud. We hope to have a selection within the next several weeks.

We welcome all of the new faces to SRH and look forward to the contributions they can make to the new division - and to all our the field offices. The many nearly simultaneous staff changes are probably unprecedented, so we also encourage patience as the individuals assume their new roles. Please do not hesitate to call on us for assistance, regardless.


Hurricane Preparedness. NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge WCM Frank Revitte participated in a hurricane preparedness presentation to 180 employees of Chevron Corporation in New Orleans. Representatives from the American Red Cross and New Orleans Emergency Management also made presentations at the quarterly safety meeting. Frank's presentation covered hurricane structure, hurricane climatology, and storm surge potential. Those in attendance were appreciative of Frank's presentation and pleased with the format of the meeting.

Evacuation Education. WFO Austin/San Antonio WCM Larry Eblen has started planning a hurricane evacuation education campaign with Texas Division of Emergency Management. The campaign will focus on the dramatic increase in the coastal population over the past 40 years and the resulting increase in difficulty in completing a timely evacuation. The campaign will use hurricanes Carla and Alicia as reference points, and compare the coastal populations during those two storms with the current numbers.

Larry also presented a weather safety and awareness program to 75 school bus driver instructors. This program is part of the instructor training program conducted at Texas A&M University. Larry described storm structure and development, visual signs and environmental clues suggestive of severe weather, and detailed the threats posed by lightning, flash floods, and tornadoes. Larry specifically emphasized vehicle safety when describing these hazardous weather threats.

Career Day. Brownsville WCM Hector Guerrero and intern Mike Castillo participated in the Lower Valley Career Day Fair 2000. The fair targeted high school students from the Brownsville/Harlingen school districts as well as others from across the lower Rio Grande Valley. The fair, sponsored by the University of Texas at Brownsville, was geared toward encouraging students to consider careers in the science, engineering and mathematics fields. Hector and Mike provided introductory and overview information regarding the NWS and our operations to the fair participants.

REGIONAL OPERATIONS CENTER. NWSO Tallahassee forecaster Marty Trexler recently completed a temporary duty assignment in the SRH ROC. A summary of his experiences is attached to this month's Topics. We encourage everyone to consider this opportunity to learn more about regional operations.

STORMREADY UPDATE. During the past month, SRH has not received word of any additional StormReady recognitions. The following cities and counties have been recognized this year: Pryor, Broken Arrow, and McIntosh County in Oklahoma; Brandon, Mississippi; and Nashville/Davidson County, Tennessee. These join the following four communities who became StormReady in 1999: Wilburton/Latimer County, Claremore/Rogers County, and Tulsa/Tulsa County in Oklahoma; and Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

Atlanta WCM Barry Gooden provided a StormReady briefing to 159 emergency managers at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center. Organizational activities continue in Florida, Alabama, Texas and elsewhere across the region.

HEAT WAVE DRAWS MEDIA ATTENTION. As is typical for this time of year, parts of the region were affected by dangerously hot and humid conditions during July. More than 20 deaths were attributed to the heat prompting considerable media attention. A Southern Region meteorologist conducted a live interview with CNN This Morning on July 19, and fielded questions live on NBC's Today Show on July 22. This was in addition to interviews granted to national print media including USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Dallas Morning News and the Boston Globe, and national radio interviews with ABC Radio News and Moody Broadcasting. The interviews were an excellent opportunity to highlight the NWS mission and its partnership with health officials in working to reduce the number of heat-related fatalities.

NWR NEWS. Two new transmitters are up and running in Georgia. Thomaston in Uptown County and Brasstown Bald in Towns County. The transmitter in Orlando, Florida was relocated. Three new sites have been surveyed with final negotiations taking place in Georgia for Troup, Fannin and Rabun counties.

The plan for expansion and upgrade of the Southern Region NWR program has been completed and forwarded to NWS Headquarters. As of July 1, we were programming 157 transmitters and identified 104 potential new sites after removal of duplication from adjacent WFOs. Each office will receive a copy of their plan during August. Many thanks for all the help in completing the project on time.

CRS NEWS. Doug Crowley met with the NWS Training Center office in July to discuss development of a CRS Network Operations course. This course will be targeted to newer CRS focal points, and the first class is scheduled to begin in the fall.

MODIFIED QPF PROCESS UPDATE. The modified QPF process was officially implemented on August 1. WFOs are no longer required to generate QPF products for use by the RFCs. This includes the SHEF-encoded QPS product and the RVM binary product. WFOs may still generate QPF products for local use.

Matt Strahan (SOD) provided the WFOs and RFCs with a modification note giving instructions for installing a QPF patch on AWIPS. This patch allows the RFCs and WFOs to view the RFC-generated six-hour gridded QPFs as images on the AWIPS D2D. We encourage offices to use these images as a tool for RFC/WFO QPF coordination. RFCs and WFOs should work together to develop and refine procedures for RFC/WFO QPF coordination using the new QPF process.

We are currently drafting an ROML on RFC/WFP/HPC hydrometeorologic coordination and will solicit feedback within the next few weeks. We also plan to draft an ROML on the use of QPF in forecast operations.

ANNUAL NWS/TVA MEETING. The annual NWS/Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) meeting was held on July 26 at TVA Headquarters in Norris, Tennessee. Ben Weiger represented SRH at the meeting. He provided a status report on the Southern Region River Flood Watch project, AWIPS commissioning, and procedures for exchanging data and information using the SR FTP server. Dave Reed, HIC from LMRFC, made several presentations at the meeting, including an overview of the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service and the new QPF process. He requested feedback from the TVA on the types of AHPS products and services that could help support TVA water resource management activities. Thanks, Dave, for helping to set up this annual meeting.

RFC RIVER FORECASTS USING SIX-HOUR FORECAST ORDINATES. Effective July 24, the Lower Mississippi RFC began issuing their 3-day and 5-day river forecasts using six-hour forecast ordinates instead of daily forecast ordinates. All SR RFCs are now issuing their river forecasts using six-hour forecast ordinates. This will allow all WFOs supported by SR RFCs to view river forecast hydrographs in AWIPS with better definition to support their hydrologic warning and forecast services. Thanks to all the SR RFCs for reaching this important milestone.



Visit to Mexico. Jerry Nunn (HIC) traveled to Mexico City in mid-July to meet with officials from the Mexican Water Commission (CNA) and discuss data and forecast exchange issues. The Mexicans are in the midst of modernizing their hydrometeorological service programs. This includes the deployment of an automated data collection system and the establishment of a Mexican hydrologic forecast facility in Monterrey to provide hydrologic forecast services for the Rio Grande and its tributaries in Mexico. The WGRFC will begin an initial test of exchanging river forecast information with the facility in Monterrey. The RFC plans to post river forecast information for the Rio Grande at Laredo, Texas, on their Web site so CNA can access and capture this information at their convenience.


Drought Product Shines. The ABRFC recently had one of its new products put to the test. The product, which displays gridded precipitation departure information for various time periods, provided valuable information to prepare the citizens of Wilburton, Oklahoma, for the effects of drought on their municipal water supply. Citizens raised concerns when the municipal water supply reservoir elevation continued to drop this summer. The mayor turned to WFO Tulsa for assistance and the new ABRFC gridded product provided the answers. The city of Wilburton was in fact in a very localized and extended drought, experiencing only 50-80% of normal precipitation over a 13-month period. Towns just a few miles from Wilburton were enjoying near normal conditions in the 80-120% of normal range. This product and other information provided by the ABRFC concerning the drawdown of the reservoir is being used by city officials to apply for financial aid to seek alternative water sources. This suite of products can be accessed by clicking on "Drought Information" on the ABRFC home page.


Rainfall totals during June were above normal in several HSAs while others added to their rainfall deficits. The Tulsa HSA recorded above normal rainfall across their entire area. Several homes were flooded and some bridges washed away as result of the high water. Fayetteville, Arkansas set a new rainfall record for the month of June with 14.39 inches. Lubbock also recorded a new wettest June on record with 8.44 inches. Heavy rainfall and subsequent flooding were responsible for heavily damaging over 100 homes in the Fort Worth HSA.


WFO HURRICANE WORKSHOP. On July 18, WFO Corpus Christi sponsored their second annual South Texas Hurricane Workshop. Attendees included the WFO staff, visiting staff members from WFO Brownsville, Bernard Meisner (SSD), representatives from three television stations (two from Corpus Christi and one from Victoria), and several county emergency management officials. The one-day workshop included presentations on hurricane structure and forecasting, hurricane guidance models, WFO hurricane operations, and emergency management issues during a tropical cyclone threat. Informative discussions on hurricane preparedness concluded the workshop. Those who attended found the workshop very rewarding, and it provided an excellent opportunity for coordination among the various agencies and groups who play critical parts during storm landfall. The local NBC-TV affiliate aired a great story on the workshop, including interviews with WFO Corpus Christi SOO Andy Patrick, MIC Ken Graham, and forecaster Tawnya Parke. The story focused on the upcoming hurricane season and lessons learned from hurricane Bret. Plans are for WFO Brownsville to sponsor next year's hurricane workshop.

RECENT MOS GUIDANCE ADDITIONS. A technical attachment this month summarizes recent additions to AVN and MRF-based MOS guidance packages.

NEW FACES AT A&M. The Texas A&M Meteorology department Web site has some new features - and faces. They have added faculty and research projects to the site. Faculty members who have left the department in the last couple of years (Profs. Zipser, Wicker, Djuric and Griffiths) have been replaced by Dr. Don Collins and Dr. Gary Sickler. Dr. Collins received his Ph.D. last year from Cal Tech in atmospheric chemistry. He is a key person in the Houston 2000 study of the air pollution. Gary Sickler received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M. His main responsibility is running the Texas Mesonet and teaching basic courses. Both scientists bring new talent to the Cooperative Institute for Applied Meteorological Studies (CIAMS) and can be part of new "connections" to the NWS.

LIGHTNING MAPPING PROJECT. Prof. Richard Orville, Director of the Cooperative Institute for Applied Meteorological Studies (CIAMS) at Texas A&M University, is conducting a lightning mapping project, which involves plotting lightning flash density, positive flash density, and percentage positive lightning for all WFOs in the contiguous U.S. The data base comprises 250 million cloud-to-ground flashes recorded over an 11-year period, 1989-1999. The analysis has been completed for the Southern and Eastern Regions. SOOs have been notified of the analyses and Dr. Orville has indicated a significant number of emails are now being exchanged to modify, expand and continue these analyses on a cooperative basis with the individual offices.

The National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) was developed and is operated by a private company. (The data we receive via AWIPS is purchased from the NLDN.) The operators of the NLDN do not want the CIAMS maps to be accessed by the private sector because of their commercial value, but access to the maps is open to all NWS employees via the CIAMS Web site and passwords which were provided to the SOOs. Contact SSD if you have lost the passwords.

A QUIZ. The branch of medicine known as "keraunomedicine" is devoted to the medical aspects of ... what? If you would like to phone a friend, you might make it Frank Brody, MIC of the NWS/NASA Spaceflight Meteorology Group at Johnson Space Center in Houston. Frank and his staff prepared an excellent summary for a JSC newsletter, and we've included it as an attachment this month so others can also benefit.

SPC VISITOR TO JACKSON AND BIRMINGHAM. In June Jeff Evans, a forecaster in the mesoscale unit at the NCEP/Storm Prediction Center in Norman, visited the forecast offices in Jackson and Birmingham. At Jackson Jeff provided a seminar on derecho forecasting and SPC operations. The seminar was attended by several NWS forecasters and interns, and in addition five meteorology students from nearby Jackson State University participated. At Birmingham Jeff discussed tornado and supercell forecasting along with SPC operations. At both WFOs Jeff participated in office operations and visited one-on-one with forecasters to discuss WFO-SPC interactions and coordination issues. The visits were a great success and the WFO staffs appreciated the opportunity to learn about SPC perspectives on several issues. Jeff was also able to learn firsthand about WFO operations. The visits were jointly supported by the SPC field visitation program and SSD.

CHANGE UPCOMING IN AMS PUBLICATION FEES. The following is from the latest (July) issue of the Bulletin of the AMS (p 1612):

...the AMS is instituting an abstract submission fee for all meetings after the 2001 Annual Meeting in Albuquerque. The submission fee will be $60 per abstract. It will be required at the time the abstract is submitted for a meeting, but will be fully refunded if the abstract is not accepted for presentation... The page charges assessed to authors for the publication of their papers in the pre-print volume will be reduced ... [to] $65 for 1-2 pages, $130 for 3-4 pages, $195 for 5-6 pages, and $260 for 7-8 pages.

This new submission fee brings up the question of how it can be paid, especially considering the possibility of it being refunded. The answer is to use the office credit card, for both the abstract submission fee and the actual preprint page charges. The use of a purchase order (CD-404) creates more work and expense than necessary. Southern Region ROML S-5-96 (Participation in Professional, Technical and Scientific Meetings) is being revised accordingly.

Please note: Because the costs are considerably higher for page charges associated with formal publication, especially if color pages are included, use of a CD-404 will continue to be required until further notice. This will help ensure the charges are properly accounted for at SRH.

NWA 25TH ANNUAL MEETING. The National Weather Association will hold its 25th Anniversary Annual Meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Gaithersburg, Maryland, October 14-20, 2000. Please note this is a change from the previously planned meeting location in Silver Spring. Gail Hartfield (, WFO Raleigh, is the program chairperson. The deadline for submission of abstracts was June 1 and the preliminary program will be posted on the NWA Web site ( as soon as possible. The meeting will include broadcaster workshops on the 14th and 15th, and an aviation workshop is also being planned for the 15th. Keynote addresses will open the general sessions on Monday, the 16th.

REMOTE SENSING TELETRAINING. The Integrated Sensor Training Professional Development Series ( will offer the following teletraining sessions during August. NWS offices can register for the training sessions at:

Sessions currently scheduled for this month are:

Convective Initiation by Low-Level Boundaries - Aug 10, 29
Using GOES Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) Imagery in AWIPS - Aug 9
Diagnosing Elevated Mesoscale Ascent - Aug 7, 21
Natural Disaster Information Cards - Aug 30

Detailed instructions are provided to participating offices at sign-up. All sessions can be reviewed in advance by following the download instructions available off the ISTPDS/VISIT Teletraining sign-up page at the above Web address. Technical information on what is needed to run a session is on the VISITview QuickStart site (

GOES ECLIPSE SEASON BEGINS. The Fall 2000 GOES Eclipse and Keep Out Zone (KOZ) schedules are now available at During the eclipse season full disk scanning operations are more frequent in order to provide additional coverage during each satellite's Keep Out Zone (KOZ) and eclipse periods. The schedules are for the GOES-8 and GOES-10 imagers and sounders. All documents on the Web site have been designed to be easily printed on 8.5" x 11" paper in a landscape paper setting. The eclipse schedules are available in WordPerfect and Word format, although there have been a few problems reported with these downloads (still under investigation).

NEW EXPERIMENTAL HURRICANE TRACK PRODUCT AVAILABLE. The Southern Region Web server now has experimental hurricane plotting maps online. These charts are generated in real-time upon receipt of any Atlantic/Caribbean TPC storm advisory. A unique aspect of these charts is the plotting window "follows" the storm and automatically scales the zoom ratio to best display the track of a storm. The charts were designed by Ken Waters in SSD, using official TPC bulletins, and were written using Perl. The charts can be found at:

EASTER TORNADO OUTBREAK. On Easter Sunday, last April 23, a total of 28 tornadoes (36 tornado events by county/parish) occurred in the county/parish warning area served by WFO Shreveport. Although the tornadoes produced many areas of significant damage, there were few injuries and no fatalities. A detailed description of the outbreak, one of the largest to occur in the Four State region, has been placed on the Shreveport Web site at Coincidentally, it was on Easter weekend last year when one of the most damaging and deadly tornado outbreaks in recent memory struck the Shreveport CWA. Full documentation of that event is in progress and will be posted soon.

NEW COMET CASE STUDY. COMET has announced the availability of a new case study - Southern Louisiana Tornadoes of January 1-2, 1999 (Case Study 027). On those days southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana experienced a major tornado outbreak which featured one F3, five F2, and eight F0-F1 tornadoes. Those 12 tornadoes nearly match the annual average (1950-1995) of 13 tornadoes in southern Louisiana. All of the tornados were indicated by WSR-88D radars in Lake Charles and Fort Polk, Louisiana. The average lead for warnings was an impressive 24 minutes. Although there was one fatality in Texas, given the severity of the outbreak and the fact that it happened overnight it is significant there were not more people injured or killed. Case 027 is now freely available for searching, browsing, and ordering for FTP download including data in McIDAS, GEMPAK, and NIDS formats.

Note data for this case are also available in netCDF AWIPS compatible format when ordered as a complete dataset through the CODIAC WWW system. This is the ninth case made available in this format. To order, go to A detailed description of the case study and other training support documentation can be found at

Upcoming: The next case study to be released by COMET will be the Fort Worth, Texas Tornadoes of March 28, 2000. The release of this case is anticipated within the next few weeks. Please visit the COMET Case Study status page for a complete listing and status of existing and future cases (

COMET MODULE: HOW MODELS PRODUCE PRECIPITATION AND CLOUDS. The COMET Program has announced the release of a new Web-based module "How Models Produce Precipitation and Clouds," which is the latest training component in the Numerical Weather Prediction Professional Development Series (NWP PDS).

The module can be accessed at:, or by clicking Model Physics: Precipitation & Cloud from the "Operational Models Matrix" at: Forecasters who evaluated this module averaged 3 hours to complete it.

The precipitation and clouds module addresses two important topics related to how models treat processes associated with sub-grid scale (convective) and resolved scale (stratiform) precipitation generation and their effects on other model forecast variables. The module identifies many significant attributes of precipitation parameterization schemes used in numerical weather prediction. Operational forecasters will find this material particularly applicable to their understanding of how numerical models treat precipitation processes. This should enhance their ability to adjust and improve upon the model precipitation forecasts.

Related material specific to how the NCEP AVN/MRF and Eta models treat precipitation and clouds will be available later this summer.

The module requires a JavaScript-enabled browser. The site has been tested and functions correctly when viewed with Netscape Navigator version 4.72 and Microsoft Internet Explorer version 5.0 or higher. Other browsers are NOT recommended or supported for this Web site.

COMET welcomes comments about the content, instructional approach, and use of these materials, and encourages users to complete the short online survey accessed via "Send Your Comments" on the module's top page. The NWP PDS Web site ( includes descriptions of the scope and training goals of this and future NWP training materials.

TROPICAL CYCLONE VORTEX RELOCATION PROCESS INTRODUCED IN NCEP GLOBAL SPECTRAL MODEL. On July 5 a numerical scheme was implemented to change how tropical cyclone vortices are initialized in the NCEP global spectral model. Due to their relatively coarse spatial resolution, global numerical weather prediction models cannot accurately forecast the position, size and intensity of tropical cyclones. In the past, bogus observations based on the National Hurricane Center's estimates of storm location, intensity and size were input to the model's analysis scheme. However, this technique did not completely remove the incorrect vortex in the model analysis cycle, which degraded the performance of the aviation (AVN) version of the global spectral model in predicting tropical cyclone tracks.

The new procedure relocates the vortex in the "first guess" field (the forecast from the previous model run of the model) to the NHC specified location before the model's data analysis process begins. If the vortex is too weak in the guess field, a stronger bogus vortex is added.

Since the AVN model provides background fields and boundary conditions to the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory's (GFDL) operational hurricane guidance model, improvements in the AVN model's analyses and forecasts (and the increase of the resolution of the AVN model introduced last January) should result in improved skill of the GFDL model.

In retrospective forecasts made from cases from the 1999 hurricane season, the average track forecasts of the AVN model (run at the current T170L42 resolution and using the new vortex relocation procedure) improved by approximately 30% compared to those of the 1999 operational (T126/L42) AVN forecast. This skill exceeds that of the operational GFDL forecast model and is comparable to those of the global models of other major centers. As expected, the improvement in AVN initial field improved the GFDL hurricane initialization and forecasts significantly. The average track forecast in the GFDL model improved by 25% compared to that of the 1999 operational GFDL model.

A draft Technical Procedure Bulletin describing the relocation process is available at: Additional information is included in the updated SSD Technical Attachment on Hurricane Guidance Models at:



NETSCAPE MIGRATION COMPLETE. The Southern Region completed migration from cc:Mail to Netscape on July 13, with over 1000 users assigned to the SR Netscape Messaging System. With the entire region on the new system, messages flow instantaneously between regional offices and the rest of the Internet. When NOAA issued a report of directory issues which needed correcting in the Netscape directory for migrated users, out of the many hundreds of errors in the report, there were only a dozen errors which involved the Southern Region server. These errors were corrected immediately. Users are also upgrading to Netscape Communicator Version 4.74 to take advantage of the latest bug fixes, security updates, etc. The upgrade keeps the calendar capabilities from the earlier version as specified in Netscape documentation.

AWIPS. All Southern Region AWIPS sites were commissioned by the end of July. We have now started to decommission AFOS, and plan to have this done by September 1. Matt Strahan is the focal point for AFOS decommissioning. Please contact him at (817) 978-7777 x132 or via e-mail if you have any questions the decommissioning process.

AWIPS build 4.3.2 has been installed and tested at SRH. The installation took three full days, but did not require any downtime on the system. The upgrade consists mainly of updates to the operating system and vendor packages, and does not include updates to AWIPS specific software. As a result, site customizations are not affected. This upgrade should be installed at each site by the middle of September.

A national AWIPS documentation working group has been formed. Matt Strahan is the Southern Region representative, and you can forward any requests or comments about AWIPS documentation to him. Additionally, SRH still publishes AWIPS technical attachments from field personnel, and writeups on AWIPS topics may also be submitted to Matt Strahan for review.

A new Southern Region AWIPS Technical Note, No. 00-02, "Local Site Configuration Needed to Use IFPS to Generate CCF/MEF Products, and to Use it Automatically with the AWIPS Verification Program," is available on the Southern Region Web site at:

ASOS. We are working with the FAA and WFO Houston on the installation of ASOS at Sugarland, Texas. The contractor visited the site July 24 to start construction. At Destin, Florida, the wind tower base switch work was completed last week. The RMS from the Tampa office will have the old wind tower base refurbished and made ready to ship to San Juan so that system can be reworked before hurricane season. The FAA and WFO Shreveport are working at the De Queens, Arkansas site. Additional property may be purchased or leased by the airport allowing the sensor pad to be relocated rather than trying to build up around the existing site. Several ASOS sensor sites are currently being relocated due to airport expansion.

The FAA has lifted the moratorium they had placed on ASOS commissionings. A heads up memo was sent to ESAs and RMSs whose sites will be affected. As more data are received from the FAA it will be forwarded to the appropriate offices.

WIND PROFILER. Wind profiler maintenance training is being finalized for September. Several technicians from various offices will attend the training in Boulder.

VOICE MAIL CHANGES. In an effort to serve the field offices and other customers more efficiently, we recently reprogrammed the SRH voice mail system to allow individuals to be paged when any urgent messages are received. The voice mail system dials the pager of the individual and leaves a numeric message which prompts the individual to retrieve the urgent message from his/her voice mailbox. This is another feature of the voice mail system which allows us to serve our customers better. In addition, the system was modified so that pressing "0" will enable anyone in a division to pick up a ringing phone line.

COMMUNICATIONS. Cecil Tevis is continuing to review the radio frequency database for Southern Region to insure its completeness and accuracy. This database is maintained to identify all radio frequency that are used or controlled by the NWS in Southern Region and resolved any interference or usage problems that might arise. We have reviewed the non-hydrologic frequencies (NWR, NWR links, etc) for narrow-banding requirements last month, and we have been tasked to review the hydrologic frequencies ( rain and river gauges, etc.) for the same requirements. There is a September 22 suspense to NWSH. Your offices help in completing this review will be appreciated.

We are continuing to order NWR dedicated circuits and ROAMS telephone service for Southern Region locations. At the same time, requests are being submitted for frequency authorizations for these sites. Please keep in mind the dedicated circuits may take up to 60 working days for installation.

As of July 31, the balance of the authorization codes for MCI audio conferencing has been distributed to Southern Region offices. Cecil Tevis will confirm receipt of these codes before submitting disconnect orders to AT&T. Also, disconnect orders for federal calling cards will be submitted after confirming receipt of the MCI cards by the offices. Cecil is also working with MCI to complete transition orders for telephone service for the FTS2001 contract. These orders include long distance (ANI) service as well as some dedicated services for NWR circuits. This process is working more efficiently than in the past. Input from NWS as well as other agencies has helped to streamline some of MCI's tasking.


Transition Power Source. All NEXRAD rotary TPS model 201-N units have been shut down as directed by the Operational Support Facility. The shut-down is in response to the numerous catastrophic failures which have occurred with this system. A new static TPS unit has been installed and is operational at WFO El Paso. This new test unit is being monitored and evaluated, and has been running without any problems for several weeks. If the system operates as expected, it will replace all rotary TPS units.

RDA Air Conditioning. In the past, the NEXRAD air conditioning systems have not been able to sufficiently cool the RDA shelters, particularly in warm climate locations. Several experiments which added new ducting to the air conditioning systems have paid off with improved efficiency. It was discovered the vent fans on top of the equipment cabinets were creating air dams which prevented proper circulation of the cool air. New test duct work at WFO Jackson has proven to work well. The blueprint specifications for the duct work have been sent to WFO Houston for review and comment. Once the blueprints and installation procedures for the duct work have been verified, the blueprints will be made available to all offices via a NEXRAD modification note. The installation of the air conditioning ducting is optional and only intended for those sites in warm climates which require it. Fabrication of the air conditioning duct work will be a local responsibility, as the OSF will provide only the blueprint drawings and installation procedures.

Reflectivity Calibration. A new calibration procedure for the NEXRAD system reflectivity has been developed using a noise source generator as a reference, see Engineering Handbook 6-510, Change 6. This new procedure will enable the maintenance technician to fine tune the reflectivity return paths in the NEXRAD system to a much tighter tolerance, for improved system performance. The procedures for performing this calibration were tested at WFO Fort Worth, and with some minor revisions, have proven to work well. A NEXRAD maintenance note detailing these procedures is in draft form and will be released shortly. Unfortunately, at this time there is not sufficient test equipment available for each office to have its own set of test equipment. Although in the future each office will have its own test equipment, currently there are only four sets available to the Southern Region. Sharing of this test equipment will be managed through the National Reconditioning Center. A rank ordered priority list has already been provided to the OSF and NRC.

CRS VOICE CONCATENATION. Voice concatenation for the CRS is finally here! Implementation of the voice concatenation feature will require a new software load and an additional computer for the voice processing. Testing and evaluation of this new feature is being performed at WFO Fort Worth. Working closely with the CRS Program Office, minor software problems have been discovered and are being addressed. In addition, a recording studio for the voice concatenation has been installed and is being tested and evaluated at WFO Melbourne. The software load which supports the voice concatenation feature, v6.4, is being distributed to the field, with a target installation date of September 15. This software load corrects problems with previous loads and adds the voice concatenation feature. Until the additional hardware required for the voice concatenation is available, the new software load will be installed with the voice concatenation feature disabled.

NEW ELECTRONICS PROGRAM MANAGER. This week we welcome Steve Baker to SOD as the new Electronics Program Manager for Southern Region. Steve is taking over the EPM position from Martin Garcia, who is now the ESA at WFO Amarillo. Steve comes to SRH from NWSFO Fort Worth, where he served as the assistant ESA. Steve has extensive experience with all of the major WFO and RFC systems, from AWIPS to the upper air. He is a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve and we are looking forward to having him aboard.


DAPM CONFERENCE. A Southern Region DAPM conference was held in mid-July at Melbourne. Representatives from SRH, field offices, NCDC, NWS Headquarters, and Eastern Region attended the conference which focused on training and information to improve operational performance.

Demonstrations by the NWSO Nashville DAPM of the new Radiosonde Replacement System software, and the new cooperative observer CSSA database system by Michelle DeTommaso and Tom Raffa highlighted the conference. A presentation by Bill Blackmore on the status of the Radiosonde Replacement System and potential effects on field operations during implementation was very informative and well received. Everyone recognized the importance and needs to replace the obsolete equipment and streamline the data acquisition process.

Spirited discussions occurred during the Rainer Dombrowsky and Joe Facundo (NWSH) presentation on the progress of the headquarters reorganization. The discussion yielded several action items, including specific directives by the regional director should coordination problems occur. Concerns over lines of authority, duplication of effort, budget implication, and increased coordination by all during the transition, coupled with the uncertainty in getting funding and a valid schedule, dominated the presentation.

FACILITIES ENGINEERING CONFERENCE. The National Facilities Engineering Conference is tentatively scheduled for August 29-31 at SRH. Topics to be discussed during the conference include NWSH reorganization impacts, environmental compliance and safety, performance documentation, long term funding woes, and increasing workload without additional resources. Southern Region will demonstrate their new Asset Management system which can be a useful tool for long term management goals, new initiatives, and historical documentation.

ASOS V2.6 SOFTWARE OK TO INSTALL. FAA labor and management have reached an agreement on the installation of ASOS V2.6 software at towered airports where FAA employees are responsible for ASOS augmentation and backup. This means NWS electronics technicians will be able to install the V2.6 software at these sites. It must be duly noted, however, that controllers at these sites must still complete any required training prior to the V2.6 software being installed. FAA Southwest and Southern regions will inform SRH on a site by site basis when this training is complete. Southern Region will then notify the appropriate WFO. The WFO staff will then need to coordinate the date/time of the installation locally with the local FAA tower.

ASOS COMMISSIONINGS RETURN. The FAA sponsored ASOS site at Hawkins Field (HKS) in Jackson was commissioned on July 20. The support of the local WFO staff was outstanding. With the FAA commissioning moratorium ended, it anticipated commissionings will resume at the pace of at least one per week beginning in late August.

NEXRAD OPEN RPG 60% DESIGN REVIEW UNDERWAY. The OSF has reached a milestone with the design of the upcoming Open RPG. The 60% Design Review is currently underway. The current timetable calls for the first O-RPGs to be installed at field offices in about one to two years.

HVAC CORROSION PREVENTION AND TREATMENT. Recent HVAC failures as well as planned equipment replacements can be traced to corrosive coastal atmospheres. Five of the seven HVAC units at Brownsville will be repaired or replaced in the coming month, primarily due to coil corrosion problems. In order to expedite deliveries of units out of service, we have recommended the three suppliers ship new HVAC units to Malek, Inc. of Corpus Christi to have the condenser coils treated with a phenolic anti-corrosion coating. This coating should extend the life of the units as well as reducing the manufacturers' delivery lead times for units now in stock, without significantly reducing the heat transfer properties of the cooling fins. The use of this coil coating process will be investigated for use at other Southern Region coastal sites which have experienced corrosion failures when there is also a need to expedite equipment deliveries.

SAFETY PRESENTATIONS. Presentations were made to Southern Region personnel at hydrology and DAPM conferences last month highlighting the key provisions of the 32 chapters in the Draft EHB-15 Safety Procedures. Two chapters dealing with fall protection and walking and working surfaces were reviewed relative to the ongoing Fall Protection Training classes at NWSTC. Inputs on all 32 chapters from the different regions were reviewed with NWSH (OSO3) personnel during a nationwide video conference on August 8, prior to formal submission to the NWS Director for approval. Staffing impacts are expected for field tasks requiring safety observers based on existing OSHA regulations.

ENVIRONMENTAL AND SAFETY AUDIT FINDINGS. Significant errors thought to be related to the Southern Region were found in the Environmental and Safety Audit summary one day before it was to be presented to the NWS Director by NWSH staff. A single Class I finding, described as "a violation of federal, state, or local environmental regulations" was mistakenly attributed to WFO Norman. This finding directed NWS to coordinate with Oklahoma University to test the underground fuel tank, when in fact the issue of testing the underground fuel tank was found to be the responsibility of the building owner. These tests have been performed for the past year by a contractor hired by the building owner, not the University of Oklahoma as described by the author of the finding, and the facility is in full compliance with the law.

UPS INSTALLATIONS. SRH continues to implement a program for the replacement of WFO uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems. The Mitsubishi UPS model was selected over all other competitors because it provides superior quality power, reduced harmonic distortion, extended battery life and greater reliability. There are currently 37 operational UPS systems in the Southern Region, 13 of which are Mitsubishi. Facilities is currently in the process of installing new units in Lubbock, Tulsa, San Juan, Ft. Worth and Austin/San Antonio. Mitsubishi Electric Automation, Inc. has provided factory training to all of our facility engineering technical staff.

UPPER AIR PROGRAM. New hydrogen leak detectors were distributed to each of the Southern Region upper air locations. These detectors will allow the offices to accomplish the periodic inspection of the hydrogen supply lines in a more efficient manner.

National Weather Service Observing Handbook No. 10 was received at SRH in early July. This manual was distributed to the DAPMs during the July conference. With this new manual, the NWS returned to testing upper air observers by written test before certification. The new written test will be distributed to the local offices this month.

COOPERATIVE OBSERVER PROGRAM. A conference call was held July 20 to discuss the modernization of the CSSA software upgrade. The CSSA, which was originally developed in the 1970s, will be replaced with a browser interface to an Oracle data base. This in-house effort is being managed by NWSH (OSO14) with the software modifications being provided by OSO113. A BETA load of the CSSA software was demonstrated at the DAPM conference and was well received. A demonstration of this modernized station documentation method will be presented to all regional focal points on August 24, in Salt Lake City. Deployment and use of the new system is scheduled for January 2001.

SURFACE OBSERVATION PROGRAM. Alton Abernathy assumed the new surface observations program manager duties at SRH at the end of June. Alton was the DAPM at WFO Key West. His earlier experience includes duties as an HMT at Norman, Oklahoma, Stephenville, Texas, and Boothville, Louisiana. Welcome to SRH, Alton.



FEW NEWS. Albertha Mosley, HMT at WFO Miami and the Southern Region federal women's employment program manager, attended the Federally Employed Women's (FEW) 31st National Training Program (NTP) in New Orleans, July 17-21. The theme this year was "FEW - Bridging The Information Gap For Success." NTP offered training in management and leadership skills, communication skills, technology and technical skills, career enhancement, personal effectiveness, personnel policies and procedures, and EEO workshops. They also offered workshops on topics directly related to FEW, women's issues and FEW's legislative goals. Albertha says the workshop facilitators were excellent. The keynote speakers were Abby Shields, speaker trainer and workshop leader; Patricia Russell-McCloud, J. D., attorney, author, and professional orator; and Conseulo Castillo Kickbusch, LTC (RET), U.S. Army.

NWSFO ATLANTA. WCM Barry Gooden reports the office conducted 126 office tours and did 161 presentations during June. Among the tours were students from Mercer University's Griffin Campus, and several groups from Carrollton Elementary School. Barry and recently retired MIC Carlos Garza met with Professor Mandock of Clark-Atlanta University on the ORISE program.

WFO BROWNSVILLE. WCM Hector Guerrero and met intern Mike Castillo participated in Career Day Fair 2000. This fair targeted high school students from surrounding school districts. Hector and Mike gave the students a glimpse of the National Weather Service and encouraged them to pursue careers in math, science, and engineering. The University of Texas at Brownsville sponsored this career fair, and about 80 high school students attended.

Hector and SOO Shawn Bennett visited three Spanish speaking media outlets in McAllen, Texas - KIWW/KGBT Radio, KTLM TV (Telemundo) and KNVO TV (Univision) TV in McAllen. The Brownsville office is in the process of developing a strong partnership with these stations as they are striving to meet the needs of their customers.

NWSFO FORT WORTH. MIC Skip Ely conducted two office tours for approximately 50 students of the Morningside Summer Special Interest classes in Fort Worth. About half were African-American, and another quarter were Asian-American and Hispanic students.

NWSO SAN ANGELO. WCM Buddy McIntyre participated in the 2000 San Angelo TexPREP as a career awareness speaker. TexPREP is the acronym for Texas Prefreshman Engineering Program. Ten local students, of which 80% were minority and 25% female, participated in the program. TexPREP endeavors to serve all students, but is particularly interested in promoting career opportunities for those who are capable but under-represented in the professions of math, engineering and science.

WFO SHREVEPORT. Forecaster Bill Parker gave a presentation on Weather Safety and Preparedness at the Lone Star Ammunition Plant in Texarkana, Arkansas and at Gilmer Jr. High School, along with a briefing of the operations of the NWS office in Shreveport.

NWSO TALLAHASSEE. The WFO Tallahassee Outreach Program remains active. Senior forecaster and EEO focal point Ron Block centered on area activities aimed at the elderly and disabled. Locally, he lectured to senior citizens at the Smith-Williams Senior Citizens Center (90 percent African-American) focusing on special weather impacts on the elderly during the ongoing hurricane season. He also presented NWS literature and discussed weather, with special emphasis on the physically challenged at a local benefit, "Celebrating 10 years of the Americans for Disabilities Act." Ron answered questions from disabled kids at the Dick Howser Children's Center; and dispensed literature to area children at the local multi-cultural Carribean Carnival celebrations. Ron also discussed hurricane preparation with area residents at the Red Cross-NWS hurricane mitigation meetings. At all the above events, the majority of attendees were women and minorities.

MIC Paul Duval discussed weather safety rules and severe weather with a Tallahassee scout troop.


July 1-31, 2000

Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
Andy Anderson WFO LUB Retirement MIC, GS-15
Christopher Peek CWSU ZHU Resignation Meteorologist, GS-12
Perry Steinman WFO EPZ Retirement HMT, GS-11
John White WFO MEG Retirement WCM, GS-14
John Goff WFO CRP Transfer to ER Met Intern, GS-7
Tuputala Taele WFO HGX Resignation El Tech, GS-11
Paul Halleck WFO ABQ Reassignment to WR El Tech,GS-11
James Cloar WFO TSA Retirement HMT, GS-11
Carlos Garza WFO FFC Retirement MIC, GS-15

Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Charles Rickard WFO LZK Reassignment from CR Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Lance Escude WFO LCH Reassignment from ER Forecaster, GS-12
Rusty Billingsley WFO LUB Reassignment from WR MIC, GS-14
Montra Lockwood WFO LCH New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Ernesto Morales WFO EYW New Hire Met Intern, GS-5
David Grant WFO HGX Reassignment from WR El Tech, GS-11
Todd Hall WFO EPZ New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Rachel Gutierrez WFO BRO New Hire ASA, GS-5

Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Jim Stefkovich WFO JAN Promotion from FWD MIC, GS-15
Lans Rothfusz WFO FFC Reassignment from TSA MIC, GS-15
Martin Garcia WFO AMA Reassignment from SRH ESA, GS-13
Michael Langevin WFO MEG Reassignment from EYW Forecaster, GS-9
John Salmen WFO EPZ Reassignment from ABQ Forecaster, GS-9
Matthew Volkmer WFO MLB Reassignment from TAE Forecaster, GS-12
Mani Medrano WFO CRP Reassignment from BRO ASA, GS-7
Steven Piltz WFO TSA Promotion from TSA MIC, GS-15
Steven Cooper SRH Promotion from MSD Supv Meteorologist, GS-15
John Simensky CWSU ZHU Reassignment from EPZ Meteorologist, GS-12
Melinda Bailey SRH Reassignment from JAX Meteorologist, GS-13
Gary Woodall WFO FWD Promotion from SRH WCM, GS-14
Steve Baker SRH SOD Promotion from FWD Electronics Program Mgr, GS-13
Jud Ladd SRH Promotion from MSD Supv Meteorologist, GS-14

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