UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
On behalf of all of us here in Southern Region Headquarters, I want to wish all of our fellow National Weather Service employees, their families, and friends a heartfelt Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Your dedicated efforts over the past year have not only provided outstanding services but also continue to proudly set the standard for service to the nation.
AMERICAN METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETY HONORS. We are pleased to announce that several Southern Region employees will be recognized next month at the AMS 81st Annual Meeting in Albuquerque. Congratulations to all of the following award recipients.
Todd Lericos at WFO Tallahassee will accept the Father James B. Macelwane Award in Meteorology for the Outstanding Undergraduate Paper of the Year. Todd is a SCEP employee and attends Florida State University.
The WFO Norman staff will share in an AMS Special Award which recognizes the exceptional public service they provided during the devastating tornadoes of May 3, 1999. Other groups sharing in the award are the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety; Oklahoma City television stations KFOR, KOCO and KWTV; the Southwest Independent Repeater Association; and the Oklahoma Climatological Survey. Together, their work resulted in a truly outstanding example of a successful, fully integrated, and effectively partnered severe weather decision making and dissemination system.
I am also pleased to have been awarded the AMS Francis W. Reichelderfer Award. This is indeed an honor, but in a real sense it recognizes the accomplishments of all of us in providing the best possible weather services to the American public.
METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES BRANCH
CORPORATE IMAGE WEB TEAM. A team has been assembled with representatives from the regions and NWS Headquarters to develop a concept for a "corporate image" Web page design. The intent is to provide for as much flexibility as possible in the development of NWS Web pages among the various offices and elements of our organization, but at the same time incorporate a standardized "look" to the home pages which will serve to establish a clear and widespread recognition of the National Weather Service. Matt Strahan from CWWD's newly formed Dissemination Enhancement Team represents Southern Region on the team. The team's first meeting was December 4-7 at NWSH and we will keep all offices informed of developments.
BUILDING LEADERS FOR A SOLID TOMORROW. That phrase defines the term BLAST, which is a new Southern Region program being designed to accomplish just what the phase says. It is a region-wide effort which will provide the structure and assistance necessary to allow all interested employees to acquire leadership skills for their own development, and help ensure that tomorrow's leaders are ready to step up when the time comes. In mid-November MICs from five Southern Region WFOs came to SRH to work on the general aspects of BLAST. Jose Garcia (Amarillo), Steve Rinard (Lake Charles), Bill Read (Houston), Ray Fagen (Midland), and Steve Letro (Jacksonville) met with Camille Dyer (ADMIN) and Steven Cooper (CWWD), as well as Crystal Williams from International Training Associates. Melinda Bailey (new to CWWD from WFO Melbourne) also participated in the sessions to provide a field view of the process. The meeting produced a number of ideas to refine the program further from what was presented to the MICs and HICs at their meeting in Fort Week in early November.
BLAST is directed at improving leadership capabilities at all levels of the organization. As part of BLAST, every Southern Region office, including SRH, will have a local leadership program. A few individuals will be competitively selected to participate in a regional development program involving seminars and other training. Full details of BLAST will be presented to all employees within the next few weeks, and a call for applications for the development program will go out in early January.
SMG SUPPORTS FIFTH ANNUAL NASA/JSC "INSPECTION DAYS" EVENT. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) participated in the fifth annual Inspection event hosted by NASA's Johnson Space Center. Inspection 2000 was an opportunity for professionals from industry, business, community, and academia to take a close-up look at NASA-developed technologies, processes, and facilities. During the three day event, which began November first, specialized tours were provided for Mission Control's secured areas, such as SMG. Over one hundred and twenty people visited SMG's operational area. They received a briefing on SMG's role in space flight weather forecasting and a demonstration of SMG's technologies and capabilities.
DISCOVERY SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETES 100TH SPACE SHUTTLE FLIGHT. After a number of technical delays, the Shuttle Discovery lifted off on October 11 and docked with the International Space Station on October 13. The SMG lead forecaster for STS-92 was Rich Lafosse. Assistant lead/TAL site forecaster was Tim Garner. The lead Techniques Development Unit meteorologist was Mark Keehn. For a complete technical summary of the STS-92 mission visit the STS-92 Post-Mission Summary Web page at: http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/shuttle/archives/sts-92/index.html.
For the late afternoon launch of STS-92, ceilings below 5000 ft and light rain showers within twenty miles of the Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) were the two Return To Launch Site (RTLS) weather flight rules evaluated for possible violation. Showers moved across the launch pad during the early afternoon but dissipated inland prior to launch. This left ceilings as the primary weather violation threat. GOES 8 imagery was used to monitor the low clouds over the Atlantic and track a large patch of widely scattered clouds moving toward the KSC launch site. The location of this relatively cloud free area and its movement allowed the forecaster to remove the ceiling violation from the RTLS forecast about one hour prior to launch. Weather was marginal at all three Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) sites prior to launch but Meteosat imagery helped the SMG forecaster decide to remove the chance of low ceilings from the forecast for Ben Guerrir, Morocco a few hours prior to launch.
At KSC strong northeasterly surface winds during the afternoon landing opportunities precluded Discovery from returning to Florida so after two weather wave-off days, Discovery landed at Edwards AFB for the first time since March 1996, ending a record string of 23 straight landings at KSC. GOES 10 imagery indicated clear weather over southern California at landing time.
WFO CORPUS CHRISTI FAM FLOAT. On October 16, Brian LaMarre, senior forecaster, Mark Lenz, journeyman forecaster, and Steve Smart, HMT participated in a familiarization float aboard the new casino ship Texas Treasure. The vessel's home port is at Port Aransas, Texas. Capt. David Ruiz, chief officer hosted the meteorologists during their visit. The Texas Treasure makes two runs per day, going out to 20nm southeast of Port Aransas. As part of a coordinated effort, once the ship reaches 9.2nm, wind direction and speed, wave height and period data are assessed and called in to WFO Corpus Christi via cell phone. This information is utilized to enhance and verify existing meteorological data used in routine and special marine products. During their visit, the NWS staff members demonstrated use of the Palm VIIx. This is a hand-held, wireless Internet device which can receive marine and other weather information directly from the WFO. They also conducted a test of the marine-to-land VHF radio signal. Also, while underway the meteorologists practiced the art of determining wind speed and direction using the Beaufort scale.
TEXAS GULF COAST EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATION CONFERENCE. Ken Graham, WFO Corpus Christi MIC, and Terry Huber, WCM, attended the annual meeting of the Texas Gulf Coast Emergency Management Association in Corpus Christi on October 16-17. During this two-day event, emergency managers from across the Texas Gulf Coast gathered to discuss various topics relating to emergency management. In addition, Terry represented the NWS by presenting an hour-long overview of the SKYWARN program.
NOAA WEATHER RADIO NEWS. The Georgia NWR expansion is nearing completion300 watt LaGrange, Georgia NWR site was accepted as a fully operating NWR site on November 16. The 300 watt NWR site at Blue Ridge, Georgia is undergoing a 30 day test period; acceptance was slated for December 1.
On November 14, Tim Troutman (CWWD), T.L. Farrow (SOD), and Florida WCMs Bob Goree, Dennis Decker, and Walt Zaleski attended a FWIN NOAA Weather Radio improvement project meeting at the State Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee. The purpose of the meeting was to determine the final portion of the FWIN NWR improvement project and to schedule project implementation with the $630,000 available funding. The recommendations from the meeting were to install new 1000 watt NWR transmitters at Highlands County (Sebring-Lake Placid area), Taylor County (Cedar Key-Fowler Bluff area), and Citrus County (Lecanto-Homasasso Springs area). Further recommendations were to install new 300 watt NWR transmitters at Liberty-Calhoun County (Blountstown-Bristol area) and in Putnam County (Palatka area).
Other recommendations were to improve some existing NWR transmitters by upgrading towers, transmitters, antennas, stand-by electrical generators and, if necessary, relocating the existing sites at: Tallahassee, Holmes County, Brevard County, Eastpoint, Osceola County and Okeefenokee Swamp area to improve NWR coverage. The FWIN NWR expansion effort in Florida is tentatively expected to be completed by 2002.
The state of Tennessee has completed an NWR initiative to place NWRs in all public schools. Around 1400 NWRs were distributed to all Tennessee public schools as part of this project, which was funded by a combination of Project Impact and state money.
New Orleans Area MIC Paul Trotter received this e-mail recently from a satisfied NWR customer in Erwinville, Louisiana.
Thanks very much for the speedy work as well as the reply. I didn't really expect NOAA to take my e-mail as seriously as you did. I was the former assistant engineer of WYNK as well as an announcer of 19 years in the Baton Rouge area. I know I hated spending a cold, wet weekend at a transmitter site. THANK YOU, there's nothing like hearing your tax dollars at work!
This is an excellent example of prompt customer service, which is greatly appreciated.
CRS NEWS. The first regional CRS conference call was held on November 15. A regional CRS team has been established to determine requirements to improve the current CRS CAFÉ formatter and the final AWIPS formatter. WFO representatives on the region's CRS formatter improvements team include Mike Coyne, Corpus Christi; Kevin Brown, Norman; Chris Liscinski, Birmingham; and Mark Rose, Nashville.
The CRS Voice Improvement team (VIP), held a conference call on November 28 to continue discussions regarding beta testing the potential future NWR voice. It was announced the test sites in the Southern Region will likely be WFOs Atlanta and Lake Charles. The voice beta testing should begin by early 2001.
VERIFICATION NEWS. In response to questions from the MIC/HIC meeting in October, here is an update on a variety of issues related to verification.
TORNADO WARNING IMPROVEMENT. Representatives from SRH, WFOs, Pleasant Hill, Missouri; Norman and Tulsa, Oklahoma; NSSL and the Warning Decision Training Branch met recently in Norman to examine the tornado warning false alarm rate problem. While most performance measures used to gauge forecaster performance have steadily improved over recent years, tornado warning FAR continues to be a problem, with over 70% of all tornado warnings classified as false alarms.
The early November meeting focused on a discussion of the scope of the problem and things which might be done to improve warnings. Many factors contribute to the decision to issue a tornado warning, and even more factors can complicate the verification process. Aside from scientific limitations that prevent a warning forecaster from definitively saying that one storm will produce a tornado while another will not, numerous non-meteorological factors affect warning verification. The team agreed to examine ways to incorporate some of these factors into the verification system to present a more realistic and accurate picture of forecaster skill.
Discussions and coordination will continue among all the participants as Southern Region continues its Warning Improvement Project.
GULF STREAM TRAINING. Steve Baig, an oceanographer with NCEP/TPC in Miami, conducted a local seminar recently covering the history, physical oceanography, and analysis techniques associated with the Gulf Stream. Participants in the seminar included a number of forecasters and managers from WFOs Miami, Melbourne and Key West. In addition, having purchased appropriate software recommended by Steve, the Miami WFO is now downloading satellite imagery from the Coastwatch Web site and analyzing sea surface temperature gradients three times weekly for the west wall of the Gulf Stream. This is now routinely included in the Coastal Marine forecast product under a GULF STREAM HAZARDS header whenever the Gulf Stream presents hazardous weather conditions for mariners. Several positive have been received from mariners.
COASTAL OFFICES ISSUE 5 DAY MARINE FORECAST. On December 13, Southern Region coastal WFOs will begin issuing the coastal marine forecast out to 5 days in detail. The main body of the forecast will be from issuance time through the Day 2 NIGHT forecast period, and the extended forecast will be from Day 3 through Day 5. The outlook period will be removed, and the synopsis and outlook will be combined into one complete synopsis which covers the entire 5-Day period. The entire five days of the coastal waters forecast will be in detail, normally including expected winds, sea conditions, significant weather, and visibility.
SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS AND OUTREACH.
WFO Key West meteorologists Tom Birchard and Ernesto Morales hosted a booth at the Cuban-American Heritage Festival in Key West in November. This week-long festival celebrates Cuban-American culture. Tom and Ernesto reported that about 60 people stopped by the booth to pick up awareness literature and/or chat about weather.
WFO Jackson MIC Jim Stefkovich and WCM Jim Butch attended a press conference with the governor of Mississippi and the director of Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. The press conference was to proclaim November as tornado awareness month in Mississippi and also to re-affirm the commitment of all agencies working together to prepare the citizens of Mississippi for hazardous weather.
WFO New Orleans Area staffed a booth at the Washington Parish Free Fair, an annual event which attracted 400,000 people. About 500-700 fair goers visited the NWS booth, staffed by seven employees. ASA Paula Bolline assisted with the set up and administrative issues.
WFO Brownsville lead forecaster Paul Yura gave six 45-minute presentations on hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms and weather instruments to a total of 400 students at Besteiro Middle School. Paul discussed safety rules with the students.
WFO Melbourne staffed a weather booth at the Melbourne International Airport Extravaganza. The event consisted of static business and aviation displays and an air show each day. About 25,000 people attended. WCM Dennis Decker and forecasters Matt Bragaw and John Pendergrast distributed weather safety pamphlets and talked to the constant stream of visitors.
SAFE HOMES FOR FLORIDA INITIATIVE. Walt Zaleski (WCM, WFO Tampa Bay Area) participated in the introduction ceremony for the latest mitigation initiative to help improve and fortify newly constructed homes in the Tampa metropolitan area against hurricane force winds. The "Institute for Business and Home Safety" built and demonstrated, to the broadcast media, insurance companies and civic leaders, three newly constructed homes in Safety Harbor, Florida, which incorporated improved materials and building techniques at minimal additional cost to the homeowner, that would fortify and help mitigate the effects of hurricane force winds on a newly constructed home.
ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS TOUR WFO TAMPA BAY AREA. ESA George Fislar, forecasters Dan Sobien and Paul Close, and HMT Karl Loeper provided a two-hour tour to nearly 20 electronics engineers. The engineers were quite interested and impressed with the latest technologies of the NWS such as AWIPS, WSR-88D and CRS. George provided the inquisitive group a first hand look at the "guts' of the WSR-88D and heart of the AWIPS/CRS operating systems.
WINTER WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK IN TENNESSEE. WFOs Nashville and Morristown collaborated with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency to issue joint newsletters regarding their winter weather preparedness campaigns. The newsletters also covered StormReady, NWR, and extended winter weather outlooks. Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian taped two radio interviews over the phone, one for the Tennessee radio network and the other for Murfreesboro radio station WMOT. He also did an interview about winter weather awareness week with The Dickson Herald, a newspaper based in Dickson, Tennessee.
WINTER WEATHER AWARENESS DAY IN TEXAS. Texas WFOs participated in a statewide winter weather awareness day on November 16. They issued PNSs and were featured in numerous radio interviews. WFO Brownsville WCM Hector Guerrero reported that they were particularly successful after alerting the media well in advance of the awareness day. New WCMs Ed Calianese (WFO Lubbock) and Pat Vesper (WFO Midland) took part in their first official awareness day events by issuing PNSs and conducting interviews. KFLP radio taped Ed's interview regarding NWS winter weather products and will use them during upcoming winter weather events.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATION
WFO Birmingham sponsored the Alabama EMWIN Workshop which WCM Brian Peters reported went very well. NWSH Santos Rodriguez of the EMWIN program office was able to attend and gave a presentation on the current status and future of EMWIN. Thirty-nine people from four states attended, including many from emergency management and 911 offices. Jack Belich from the St. Petersburg, Florida Times (an EMWIN re-broadcast site) served as the luncheon speaker and gave tremendous information based on his extensive experience with EMWIN.
WFO Brownsville represented the NWS at a recent FEMA Region VI Local Emergency Planning Committee conference in McAllen, Texas. They staffed a booth which focused on NWR and StormReady. Emergency managers and planning committee members from Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Mississippi attended. Dana Watkins and Hector Guerrero met emergency managers various CWAs and said that they felt a strong sense of partnership between the NWS and the emergency management community.
WFO Jackson WCM Jim Butch set up an EMWIN system at the Emergency Operations Center in Jasper County. This system was loaned to Jasper County to allow them to evaluate whether they would want to purchase an EMWIN system at a later date.
IAEM CONFERENCE. WFO Norman WCM Jim Purpura, WFO Fort Worth WCM Gary Woodall, and Southeast RFC hydrologist Todd Hamill addressed the 48th Annual International Association of Emergency Managers (IAEM) Conference in Austin. Representatives from NWSH and other NWS regions addressed the conference, too, helping make this meeting a success for the 300 plus attendees.
PROJECT STORMREADY COMES TO SOUTHWEST FLORIDA. WFO Tampa Bay WCM Walt Zaleski provided a one-hour presentation regarding Project StormReady at the Charlotte County Emergency Management Operations Center in Punta Gorda, Florida. The attentive group of over 20 emergency management personnel vowed their support and future participation for the project.
WFO CORPUS CHRISTI EMWIN SUCCESS STORY. WFO Corpus Christi worked hard to establish an EMWIN paging system which has been operational since June. During a recent tornado episode, the EMWIN system worked well and automatically sent a page to officials in Victoria, Texas. The following day, WFO Corpus Christi received an e-mail of thanks from the Victoria fire chief, saying the pager system worked great and they greatly appreciated the service. WCM Terry Huber and forecaster John Metz report the EMWIN system has helped enhance the WFO's image and relation with officials in the Victoria area.
MEDIA/PUBLIC/EXTERNAL CUSTOMER SUPPORT
It is certainly nice to hear directly from customers about the great work being performed by Southern Region offices. Here are two recent examples.
Kudos for the WFO Fort Worth Web site were received from Chikage Windler, meteorologist for the Texas Cable Network, who sent the following note.
"Just wanted to thank you and the rest of the folks at the NWS for all of the
wonderful north Texas climate data on the Web site. Just today, I pulled up the
winter weather past events & climatology -- so much useful information to drop into
I'm a meteorologist at Texas Cable News (TXCN) and we do weather coverage for the entire state.
Thanks again, and keep up the great work!"
Kudos for WFO Amarillo, too. MIC Jose Garcia happily reported a letter that he received from the Pantex Operations Center about the fine work of the WFO Amarillo staff. In part, the letter stated.
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your staff for the support we receive from the National Weather Service during threatening weather. Each time we have requested information pertaining to weather related storms your staff has been courteous, professional and very helpful."
INTERAGENCY FIRE WEATHER PRESENTATION. WFO Tampa Bay forecaster David Rittenberry provided a well-rounded long range climate presentation to an audience of nearly 250 personnel of the "Central Florida Interagency Prescribed Fire Councils" annual meeting. David focused on the NCEP Climate Prediction Center winter/spring temperature and precipitation outlook with respect to the El Niño and La Niña phenomena. His timely and informative presentation provided the group an opportunity to prepare for the expected above average wildfire season due to the prolonged two-year excessive drought in Florida.
AG WEATHER SCHOOL. Tampa Bay Area SOO Charlie Paxton, spoke at a day-long weather school at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS), Lake Alfred Citrus Research and Education Center. Charlie discussed NWS public products applicable to generalized agricultural purposes. Also attending the meeting were the state meteorologist and representatives from IFAS, Division of Emergency Management, and FSU's Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies. A private meteorologist with Skybit, Inc. described products and methods for producing highly specialized and localized agricultural forecasts. One of his forecast formats on a single sheet of paper had a detailed, high temporal resolution MOS-like forecast on the top, a 3-10 Day forecast in the middle and a summary of the last ten days on the bottom. Now that's a lot of information on one sheet.
VTEC. VTEC (Valid Time Event Code) provides information supplementary to the Universal Generic Code (UGC) string and permits selective dissemination and reception of NWS text watch, warning and advisory products for commercial weather providers and customers. The additional code string will be located directly below the UGC line. NWSH plans to implement VTEC in its watch, warning and advisory products during the next calendar year.
The VTEC implementation plan is available online on the SRH home page under the Climate, Water, and Weather Division. The link is available under either HSB or MSB. The implementation plan provides more details about VTEC and the implementation strategy for VTEC nationwide.
WFO Morristown will participate as one of the national VTEC test sites once AWIPS Build 5.0 is installed at their site. This field test will ensure that both WARNGEN and the WWA software can generate VTEC in the winter storm watch, warning, and advisories, non-precipitation warnings, and severe thunderstorm and tornado warning products. We will coordinate with another office shortly to identify another VTEC site in the region. Contact Ben Weiger in the CWWD Hydrologic Services Branch for further information.
HYDROLOGIC SERVICES BRANCH
AHPS VISION MEETING. Ben Weiger, chief of HSB, attended an Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services (AHPS) Vision team meeting at the NWSTC early this month. The team charter is to develop (1) a concise, non-technical definition of AHPS, (2) a prioritized list of AHP "Service" improvements for the next 0-5 years and 5-10 years, (3) a manageable set of AHPS success criteria, (4) guidelines to ensure consistency in products and services, and (5) a list of resources to facilitate AHPS outreach. A meeting summary will be prepared for review and approval by the regional directors, and NSWH office directors.
DROUGHT MONITOR FORUM. On November 16-17, Ben Weiger (HSB) attended a Drought Monitor Forum held at the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. This forum was used as an opportunity to obtain customer feedback on the national Drought Monitor Web site. Customers included commodity analysts, commercial weather providers, media, NWS national, regional, and field office personnel, legislative aides from the two senators representing Nebraska, state climatologists, and Regional Climate Center directors. Some feedback included animation of the weekly drought monitor graphic, visible links on the drought monitor home page that provide a definition of terminology (e.g., drought indices, drought categories), used in creating the drought monitor graphic, issuing the drought monitor graphic product and associated text prior to the opening of the stock markets, generating separate maps to show agricultural, fire danger, and hydrologic drought areas, and developing performance measures for the seasonal drought outlooks and the long-lead climate outlooks.
The drought monitor folks would love to have your comments on the contents of the draft drought monitor graphic and associated text prior to the product issuance on Thursdays. You can provide your office input by subscribing to the drought monitor listserver. To subscribe, send an email to Kim Klemsz at the National Drought Mitigation Center, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE NATIONAL PRECIPITATION VERIFICATION UNIT. The NPVU, part of the NCEP Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, became operational on October 1. The NPVU is responsible for generating verification statistics for RFC QPF. They also are mosaicking CONUS RFC 6-hour and 24-hour aggregates of gridded quantitative precipitation estimates, 6-hour and 24-hour RFC QPF, and 1-, 3-, and 6-hour gridded flash flood guidance to generate national graphics of these fields on their Web site. The URL for this Web site is http://www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov/npvu. We encourage you to place links to this information on your local Web sites.
RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
MULTI-DAY QUANTITATIVE PRECIPITATION ESTIMATES ONLINE. The Lower Mississippi RFC recently updated their home page with a link that provides 2-, 3-, 5-, and 7-Day graphics of WSR-88D Stage III quantitative precipitation estimates http://www.srh.noaa.gov/lmrfc/precip/stage3/day_total_st3.shtml. These graphics will provide LMRFC internal and external customers and partners with useful information, especially during and after multi-day storm events.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
October was a month of rainfall extremes across the Southern Region. Hydrologic Service Areas (HSAs) in the eastern part of the region recorded well below normal rainfall while a good part Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma received several inches of rain.
In East Tennessee, October 2000 became the driest month ever recorded at Tri-Cities with just 0.02 inches of rainfall. Another observing station near Knoxville tied their driest October on record with just a trace of precipitation. The extremely dry conditions brought a large number of fires across East Tennessee during the month.
On the other end of the spectrum, much of Texas and New Mexico finally received some much need rain during October. The 2.66 inches of rainfall at the Albuquerque International Airport was enough to make the seventh wettest October on record since 1892. Other areas of New Mexico received considerably more rain during October with 4 to 7 inch totals being recorded. In Texas, Amarillo recorded it's eighth wettest October since the weather records started. October was an active rainfall month in Midland's HSA with several flooding rainfall episodes closing roads across the area. The San Antonio HSA also had plenty of rainfall which generated several river stage crests above flood stage.
USING LDAD FOR HYDROLOGIC DATA COLLECTION
For those of you who still have telephone connections to river gauges that have non-NWS dataloggers, a couple of dialing routines have been developed by Brian Jackson at the Office of Hydrology to collect data from Campbell Scientific and Sutron dataloggers. Unlike the current LARC dialing script in LDAD, the OH application will collect several hours of data with a single phone call and SHEF encode the data. The application is being tested by Nezette Rydell at San Antonio. AWIPS Build 5.0 should see the ability to dial Campbell Scientific dataloggers and collect data. Stay tuned.
For the WFOs that have ALERT systems and are collecting data through a Hydromet computer, we now have a way to get collect this data through LDAD. WFO Tulsa met intern Dave Manning has worked to develop software to collect raw alert data with LDAD, SHEF encode it and ship it out on the WAN for dissemination. Dave has been running the software at Tulsa for several months and several improvements have been made. The software has recently been installed at WFO Houston and is available as an AWIPS local application.
SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION
CAREERS IN METEOROLOGY. Frequently in our educational outreach activities questions come up from students and teachers regarding careers in meteorology. Most offices have probably developed their own materials to help address those questions, but a useful booklet to supplement that is also available from the American Meteorological Society. The title is Challenges of Our Changing Atmosphere - Careers in Atmospheric Research and Applied Meteorology, and a copy can be downloaded from the AMS Web site at http://www.ametsoc.org/AMS/. Click on "Student Information and Resources" at the bottom of the list of choices on the left-hand side of the home page.
Browsing this Web site will reveal a considerable amount of other related information which may be useful for students and others potentially interested in a career in meteorology. Although it is referenced, I was unable to locate on the AMS site a list of the educational requirements for employment as a meteorologist with the federal government. Those (the X-118 standards) can be found at http://www.opm.gov/qualifications/SEC-IV/B/GS1300/1340.HTM. Replace "1340" with "1315" to find the standards for the hydrologist series.
UNIVERSITY ASSIGNMENT PROGRAM. A call for applications for the UAP will probably be issued soon. Some changes are anticipated in the program this year which we believe will simplify and streamline the application and approval process. Pending the call announcement, we encourage interested employees to contact SSD (Dan Smith) for more information, or review the UAP description from last year which can be linked to from SSD's page on the Southern Region Web site (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/).
SRH HOSTS GIS MEETING. Southern Region Headquarters hosted the quarterly meeting of the Texas Federal Geographic Working Group during November. This is a consortium of federal, state and local Geographic Information System (GIS) users and administrators. The one-day meeting went very well with a large focus on ways to use the a national hydrography dataset being developed. RD Bill Proenza opened the meeting by briefly describing the NWS mission and special challenges we encounter in our region. A presentation was also made by SSD which included examples of how NWS is using GIS technology and where we want to go with it. About 20 participants from around the state enjoyed their opportunity to view NWS operations and systems first-hand and learn about how we incorporate GIS into operations.
SEMINARS AT MORRISTOWN. Medium-range models and winter weather were subjects of two seminars presented last month at WFO Morristown. Mike Schichtel from the NCEP Hydrometeorological Prediction Center made the presentations. The first seminar described the fundamentals and use of several medium-range models, including a comparison of the various models and their relative performance. The winter weather seminar included examples of products and how they are derived by HPC forecasters. In addition to the Morristown staff and a visiting forecaster from WFO Atlanta, two other NWS regions were represented with four visitors from WFO Jackson, Kentucky, including the MIC and SOO, and the SOO from WFO Greer, South Carolina. We appreciate the support provided by NCEP and Mike Schichtel, and the work of Morristown SOO Stephen Parker in arranging the sessions.
CORPUS CHRISTI PROVIDES COLLEGE SEMINAR. On November 18, the Natural Sciences Department at Del Mar College in Corpus Christi hosted a presentation on the operations of the National Weather Service. SOO Andy Patrick was guest lecturer. Andy discussed the history and background of the Weather Bureau/NWS in Corpus Christi, including modernization. He also provided detailed information on the NWS use of recent technologies, including the use of Flash and Palm Pilots. Andy concluded the presentation by utilizing Flash technology to discuss the formation of lightning and seabreezes. Over 150 students, faculty, and staff attended this presentation, which was an impressive turnout, considering inclement weather.
NEW WARNING DECISION TRAINING BRANCH CHIEF. By now most are probably aware the WSR-88D Operational Support Facility (OSF) has been renamed the Radar Operations Center. The OSF Operations Training Branch is now the Warning Decision Training Branch, but note it is a branch of the NWSH Training Division, not the ROC. In other words, the WDTB is part of the new NWS training structure which includes management of the NWS Training Center in Kansas City and oversight of COMET in Boulder. Ed Mahoney, currently SOO at WFO Buffalo, has been selected as the new Chief of the WDTB. He will assume his new duties in January.
RAINBOW WARRIORS. University of Hawaii alumni Scott Spratt (WFO Melbourne) and Bernard Meisner (SSD) each conducted seminars for the meteorology department while they were on vacation during November. (When you attend school in paradise, every day is a working day as well as a holiday!)
Scott's seminar, entitled "Radar Detection of Tropical Cyclone Mesocyclones: Increasing Forecaster Awareness and Improving Tornado Warning Lead Times," summarized several studies completed at WFO Melbourne over the last five years, and included topics such as: a defined spectrum of Tropical Cyclone (TC) mesocyclones, a radar-based documentation of mesocyclone families, lightning signals associated with TC tornadoes, locally developed warning strategies, a summary of operations during TC Josephine (1996), and preliminary findings from a joint NWS MLB and NOAA/HRD study on TC Bonnie (1998) mesovorticies. The seminar was attended by over 25 UH students and staff, as well as several forecasters from the co-located Honolulu NWS office.
Bernard's meteorology department seminar was entitled "NCEP's Model Output Soundings and Meteorograms: New Guidance for Aviation Forecasts," and generated a discussion about visibility measurement and verification. In Hawaii, sea spray, smoke from cane fires and "vog" (volcanic smoke and fog) often limit visibility as frequently as precipitation or fog.
Bernard also spoke to the local AMS chapter on: "What's New and Planned in NCEP's Model Suite" and made a brief visit to the Naval Pacific Meteorology and Oceanography Center/Joint Typhoon Warning Center at Pearl Harbor.
SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION
ASOS. In an effort to reduce outages which exceed the prescribed restore time, we have created a database for tracking the ASOS exceeded outages. We hope to identify any systematic reasons for exceeding the time requirements for ASOS repairs. The data will be evaluated, and sampled again in February-March. Once the problems are identified and with the coordination of field sites, and AOMC, we hope to be able to reduce the number of exceeded outages.
EMRS ENHANCEMENT. Jointly with NWSH, the regional EPMs met in Silver Spring to identify improvements to EMRS. Some items of concern are simplifying how Mal Codes, clarification of EMRS graphs, establishing accurate documentation for workload hours, one source of modification reporting, and how to assure consistent reporting.
E-MAIL. During the most recent Netscape Messaging VTC, it was learned that the third turnover in contract personnel providing Netscape support to the regions has occurred at NWSH. This has all occurred within a period of about one and a half years which has certainly had its affect on the stability and continuity of support to the regions. Fortunately, networking among the regional messaging focal points and help from NOAA folks, such as Thomas K. Murphy and Danny Dillon has been invaluable in getting the job done.
One item of interest is the plan to have a Netscape support engineer on site at NWSH. This would be an improvement over the Netscape support provided in the past. Another item is the future plan to have an iPlanet Calendar server based on a Web browser client to replace the present third party calendar solution that Netscape is moving away from. The latest versions of Netscape Communicator do not include the original calendar support function.
AWIPS. Build 4.3.3 upgrades are well underway in Southern Region and all sites will complete it by the end of December. SRH is testing the 5.0 upgrade, which will also be tested at WFO Knoxville/Tri-Cities the first part of December.
During November two Southern Region employees and one person from four different sites (Tampa Bay, Lubbock, Tulsa, and Norman) were sent to GFE (gridded forecast editor) training. GFE will run at those offices on a dedicated Linux PC, instead of an AWIPS Workstation, so no negative impacts will affect our commissioned system. In the next three months, we will be working with user groups to establish a standard format for at least one new product to be produced by GFE at those sites. After the format is set, those offices will begin regularly producing the new product(s) by using GFE on every shift. However, it is expected that the resolution of the new products will be too high for our current AWIPS configuration to produce. For example, a forecast of land/sea breeze interaction zones is desired. However, the AWIPS based IFPS (which includes GFE) will only operate at a 19 km resolution, which will not be high enough to resolve such small scale features.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS. On November 14, representatives from MCI and Yorktel, an MCI contractor, installed and tested the VTC equipment and circuit at SRH. The AT&T equipment and circuit was disconnected and the new configuration was installed. After numerous tests to insure successful connectivity, the tests were halted. The original AT&T equipment was connected, tested, and is currently operational. The Southern Region VTC circuit and equipment is currently ready to change to FTS2001 services.
Concerning the transition of the NWR service to FTS2001, on November 16 we attended a VTC with NWSHQ and MCI. The meeting was called to discuss some of the problems we are having with MCI delivering the services for NWR that are specifically required for the transmitters to operate. MCI acknowledged that they have had some problems administratively with the way orders are written, and those problems have been resolved. Currently at issue is whether MCI can deliver the NWR circuits as the orders are written and in a timely manner. Southern Region provided two NWR sites for beta testing of MCIs capability to deliver services as prescribed in the written orders and in a reasonable time. These sites are Tallahassee, Florida to Pelham, Georgia and Tallahassee to Harira, Georgia. These were chosen because MCI has problems with the address issues on NWR sites that do not have a 911 addressing. As stated to MCI repeatedly, NWS has many NWR field sites that do not have 911 service addresses, yet we have services at these locations. This is a major issue that has to be resolved before MCI can move forward with issuing orders and installing NWR circuits.
We our concerned about the lack of official documentation coming forth with this migration to FST2001. We are asking our field sites to make hardware changes to systems that are under configuration management without official modification notes. For example, we are about to direct our site to move the Regional Frame Relay router from its current location to inside the AWIPS communications rack. This is being done to facilitate the move to a single access line. While we understand that this has been coordinated with PRC we still have no approved Mod note on it.
CHANGES IN WSR-88D ARCHIVE II RECORDING AT SELECT SITES. Some NWS WFOs have installed in their office a Remote Interface Data Display System (RIDDS) which makes WSR-88D Level II base data available to universities for research purposes. Many of the RIDDS sites have had their Level II data flowing continuously to the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) on an experimental basis for several months, via the Internet/Abilene Network. Developing this prototype capability to transmit Level II data to NCDC and archive the data in real time has been a cooperative effort of the NCDC, National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), University of Oklahoma, and the NWS Radar Operations Center (ROC - formerly the OSF), working with funding from the NOAA Environmental Services Data Information Management (ESDIM) Program.
The success rate of real-time data archival at the NCDC using this system has exceeded that of using the jukeboxes and 8mm tapes. This method is also very time efficient and less labor intensive due to no reliance on the jukebox. As a result, the ROC has authorized the suspension of NCDC Level II archiving via the jukebox for the following WSR-88D sites in the Southern Region.
Ft. Worth (KFWS)
It is expected additional WSR-88D sites that are currently outfitted with a RIDDS box can suspend their jukebox Archive II recording in the near future. Details on this will be forthcoming.
OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH
ASOS COMMISSIONINGS CONTINUE. During November, the commissionings of FAA sponsored ASOS sites continued. In November, FAA sponsored ASOS sites were commissioned at Carlsbad, New Mexico; Wink, Texas; and Ponca City, Oklahoma. The commissionings went smoothly thanks to the hard work of all NWS field personnel involved in the process.
OPEN RPG UPDATE. Current plans call for WFO Norman to be the Beta test site for Open RPG installation and operational use. At the present time, it appears as though this will occur in about the April, 2001 time frame.
One of the most anticipated upgrades associated with Open RPG implementation will be the possibility of ingesting Doppler weather radar from FAA Terminal Doppler Weather Radars (TDWR) into the AWIPS via the Open RPG.
The existence of a TDWR at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City will facilitate the testing and ingest of TDWR data to a WFO via AWIPS using the ORPG.
KEY WEST RDA FUEL CATCHMENT. The first draft of the new Spill Prevention, Control, and Countermeasures Plan (SPCC) for the Key West RDA quoted the EPA requirement for a catchment to contain the entire contents of the largest single compartment of the diesel fuel delivery truck, estimated at 4,000 gallons, plus an additional amount for rainwater. This is spelled out in 40 CFR Part 112.7(e)(4) and will require significant resources to comply unless an alternative design is chosen over the concrete version proposed by the SPCC contractor.
RESOLUTION OF ATLANTA UPPER AIR SAFETY PROBLEM. The inoperative safety switch on the antenna of the Atlanta WFO/RFC ART2 was replaced and is now functional according to calibration. This replacement was due to the combined efforts of Charlie Lake at SRH, former upper air instructor at NWSTC, ESA Brian Burgess at WFO Atlanta, and Terry Brisbin, SRH Environmental and Safety Program Manager. There was a potential risk of personnel injury had the safety switch not been replaced and office personnel energized the upper air controls while maintenance personnel were in the antenna dome.
RDA RF EXPOSURE REVIEW. A flexible waveguide in the RDA shelter cracked at WFO El Paso resulting in an RF leak inside the shelter. The leak was first detected by the monitor in the receiver rack, and it was later measured by employees with an RF detector supplied by Radar Operations Center (formerly OSF). The exposure level at the source exceeded the OSHA permissible amount but employees were located at a safe distance. Appropriate action was taken to follow up on this incident. RF detectors have been ordered for all Southern Region RDA sites and that will allow more frequent checks for RF leaks than required by the ROC. The flexible waveguide inside the RDA will be flagged for periodic surveillance. Actions in this instance have been shared with the other regions.
ASBESTOS SURVEY POSITIVE AT DEL RIO UPPER AIR BUILDING. Samples of three different floor tiles sampled by a licensed asbestos survey company resulted in all three being positive. Extensive renovations are planned to keep this building in operation as an Upper Air site, and bids will be solicited for abating the asbestos-containing floor tiles before renovation work begins.
INTERNET-ROSA. The Internet ROSA was demonstrated to the Southern Region Headquarters IT team in early November. This software package will allow the volunteer observers to submit near real-time cooperative program data to the Southern Region NWS offices using Internet technology. The SRH IT team will determine the best method to migrate the SHEF encoded ROSA information from the SRH Web Server to the AWIPS. It is hoped that this new technology will be available for the Cooperative Program observer by the first of the year.
CSSA. The New CSSA was demonstrated to the SR MICs and SRH division chiefs during the recent MIC/HIC conference. This was the first opportunity for most of these managers to see the new metadata archive software. Most comment were favorable and suggestions for software improvement have been forwarded to the development team at NWSH.
ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION
AUTHORIZATION FOR TRAINING APPROVAL. All MICs, HICs and division chiefs are reminded to sign, date and return to ADMN (W/SR5) the cover memo which accompanied distribution a few weeks ago of ROML S-09-2000, "Training Policies and Procedures." Signing that page signifies completion of the required training for the delegation of training approval and funding authority.
DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
WFO SHREVEPORT. The staff celebrated Hispanic Heritage Month by meeting for lunch at a local Mexican Restaurant. They discussed Hispanic history, and the diversity of Hispanics and Latinos.
The staff also observed Disability Awareness Month by having a luncheon in the office. Tracey Carrin was the speaker. She is the wife of Glenn Carrin, a senior forecaster in Shreveport. Tracey's talk focused mainly on the hearing impaired. She discussed that those who are hearing impaired consider themselves and their language (sign language) as a culture. She explained that many people who are hearing impaired will not recognize themselves as disabled. She also gave tips on communicating with the hearing impaired, and talked about the different types of sign language. This session was very informative in learning the culture of the hearing impaired. You may see highlights of this session on the Shreveport Web Page.
Forecaster Bill Parker gave a talk on Severe Weather Preparedness, NWS Operations, and a career in meteorology to Huntington High School in Shreveport, a predominantly African-American school.
HMT Steve Griffin gave a talk to Green Valley Elementary School in North Richland Hills on the operations of the NWS and Severe Weather Safety.
SOO Ken Falk and ESA Mike Waddell gave a tour to West Monroe High School ROTC on the operations of the NWS and talked about careers with the NWS.
Jason Hansford, met intern, participated in a Science Fair by Quachita Parish 4-H Club in West Monroe, Louisiana. Discussions centered around the operations of the NWS, Severe Weather Prepardness and Safety, NWR, and careers with the NWS.
Bill Murrell, met intern, gave a talk to fifth and sixth graders at Price T. Young Middle School in Marshall, Texas, about Tornadoes, Tornado Alley, and the differences between snow, sleet, freezing rain, and rain. He also discussed the various equipment used by the NWS, career opportunities, and the necessary classes needed to become a meteorologist.
WFO SAN JUAN. The WFO has been quite busy with office tours and presentations, among them:
HMT Bob Cari and forecaster Daniel Melendez conducted a tour of WFO operations for 15 Girl Scouts, Troop #129 from Baldwin School. The girl scouts had a great time and learned about MARD and local climatology.
DAPM Francisco Balleste and forecaster Hector Rivera conducted a tour of WFO operations for 25 students from Francisco Gaztambide High School History and Geography Club.
MIC Israel Matos gave a two hour slide presentation on historical floods that affected Puerto Rico at the Natural Hazards Historical Workshop sponsored by the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency. The government of Puerto Rico designated October 11, as "Natural Disaster Reduction Day." The workshop was attended by 60 emergency managers.
Forecaster Hector Rivera assisted a ninth grade student with a science fair project on marine currents and how they affect climate.
WCM Rafael Mojica, Francisco Balleste, and forecaster Andy Roche conducted a two-hour office tour for 27 tenth grade students of the Pedro Falu Community High School. Students learned about hurricane forecasting and latest WFO technology.
Rafael Mojica conducted an office operations tour for two elementary school students interested in meteorology as a future career. The students were shown NOAA's movie Realms of Unique Planet.
Rafael also conducted an office tour for nine student pilots of the Southern Aeronautics Flying School. Aviation forecasting was discussed in depth, students were provided with TAF's decoding cards and NWS preparedness publications. Also touring were six students of the Inter-American University advanced aviation course. Students were thrilled about latest technology and its benefits to the general community. Rafael also assisted a female high school student with her science fair project on snow, providing guidance and Internet links on precipitation types.
Daniel Melendez participated in the Mountain Fury Clinic and delivered a presentation on orographic waves, associated clouds and dynamical signatures for 40 pilots of the USDI mining Academy in Beckley, West Virginia.
Senior forecaster Brian Seeley conducted an office tour for 15 members of the Puerto Rico German Club. They were interested in seeing WFO operations. Mr. Seeley discussed local weather patterns, island effects, hurricanes versus mid-latitude systems, and tropical cyclones of the last 10 years.
WFO TALLAHASSEE. During November, WFO Tallahassee's Outreach Program remained active with an emphasis on school activities. Senior forecaster and EEO focal point Ron Block was a science fair judge at Raa Middle School and career day speaker on meteorology as a profession at Childs High School. He met with weather coordinators at five area schools to discuss weather equipment and the feasibility of commencing NWS sponsored school weather projects. This included McClay School, Ft. Braden School, Woodville Elementary, Buck Lake Elementary and Godby High School. At Godby, he discussed aviation meteorology with members of the Junior ROTC. At Tallahassee's Unity in the Community Children's Week festival, Ron disseminated youth oriented literature and discussed the importance of studying science in school. WCM Bob Goree discussed severe weather with a focus on tornados at the Waycross, Georgia, Kiwanis Club.
RFC TULSA. The ABRFC and the Tulsa WFO conducted several joint tours of the offices. Among them were for the Walt Disney Academy where approximately 50 high school students of various ethnic backgrounds were in attendance; Kerr Elementary School for approximately 75 fourth and fifth grade students; and for 25 home-school students.
The ABRFC continues to conduct mini-diversity seminars during the monthly staff meetings. This provides an opportunity for all ABRFC employees to learn about the strengths of fellow individuals, as well as potential improvements for the entire working group.
SOUTHERN REGION WORKFORCE TRANSACTIONS
NOVEMBER 1 - 30, 2000
|Southern Region Losses|
|Name||From (Office)||Action/Transfer||From Title/Grade|
|John Kuhn||RFC SIL||Promotion to NWSH||HAS Forecaster, GS-12|
|John Gulley||WFO SJT||Transfer to DOD||El Tech, GS-11|
|Zaaron Allen||WFO LCH||Reassignment to AR||Lead Forecaster, GS-13|
|Timothy Coleman||WFO BHX||Resignation||Met Intern, GS-7|
|Helena Cichon||WFO EYW||Transfer to DOI||ASA, GS-7|
|Melvin Murrell||CWSU ZTL||Retirement||Meteorologist, GS-12|
|Wayne Mashburn||WFO Key West||Resignation||El Tech, GS-11|
|Southern Region Gains|
|Name||To (Office)||Action/Transfer||To Title/Grade|
|Michael Vescio||WFO FWD||Reassignment from SPC||SOO, GS-14|
|Glen Woodall||WFO AMA||Promotion from AR||DAPM, GS-12|
|Within Region Transfers/Actions|
|Name||To (Office)||Action/Transfer||To Title/Grade|
|Robert Boyd||WFO MAF||Promotion from MAF||Senior Forecaster, GS-13|
|Erma Nations||SRH||Promotion from AMD||Secretary, GS-8|
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