Fort Worth, Texas

December 15, 1997



ED MAY, SOUTHERN REGION CHIEF OF HYDROLOGIC SERVICES TO RETIRE. After 30 years of federal service, Ed May is retiring January 3, 1998. After serving in the U.S. Army in the early 60s, Ed entered the Weather Service in 1974 at Sioux Falls, but quickly moved on to the Detroit/Ann Arbor forecast office. He later served again at Sioux Falls and then on to Minneapolis and Anchorage before being assigned to WSFO Des Moines as service hydrologist. In 1991 Ed began working for the Office of Hydrology at Boulder and Silver Spring before being assigned as Deputy Regional Hydrologist at Southern Region Headquarters in 1994. In early 1995 he assumed the duties of the Regional Hydrologist.

Ed May contributed greatly to the modernization, especially with his pioneering work with the WFO Hydrologic Forecast System (WHFS) and its AWIPS application. He has received modernization awards and many other recognitions including the prestigious Max Kohler award for "sustained service to the Hydrologic Program of the National Weather Service." Ed will retire to the Black Hills of South Dakota to enjoy his hobbies of fishing, hiking, working with computers, and traveling. Included in those travels, he will work as a consultant for OH at the NWS Training Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

ALIENE BECKHAM. We were saddened to learn that Aliene Beckham, a long-time employee of the Southern Region Headquarters Personnel Office, passed away the second week of December. Aliene was well known to many NWS employees, because she recruited them. She retired when the personnel functions were transferred to MASC, but Aliene's commitment to the Weather Bureau and the NWS lasts in the number and quality of individuals she was personally involved in hiring.


The AWIPS program in Southern Region is moving forward. During the week of December 1, the AWIPS system at NWSO Tulsa, Oklahoma, was upgraded to Build 3 configuration and the AWIPS system at NWSFO Norman, Oklahoma, was installed. Southern Region support (Bruce Marshak) was on-site for both installations.

Since Tulsa was an upgrade from Build 2.1 to Build 3.0, many preparatory items had to be completed. The staff had almost everything completed before the PRC hardware and software teams arrived on site. Part of the Build 3 process included installing the X-terminals at each workstation, installing two additional 10 Base-T hubs, replacing the Data Server mass storage devices with hot-swap capable units, and replacing the HP Communications Processors that ingested radar data with Simpact processors. Communications lines were reterminated for radar and remote support dial-up capability included with Build 3. Problems were encountered with only one Simpact processor being shipped initially, and configuration problems were encountered while installing the new mass storage units (one was configured and one was not).

Tulsa had been running Build 2.1 software, which included interactive forecast preparation (IFP) capability. A decision was made to install Build 3.0 software so the hardware upgrade could be accomplished. The initial Build 3.0 software load does not include IFP capability. This is also the first field load based on the FSL-developed, WFO-advanced software. Forecasters in Tulsa jumped right in and started using the system again, this time with the display-in-2-dimensions (D2D) interface. Tulsa is currently ingesting radar from both the local Tulsa radar and the Fort Smith radar via 9.6K lines. The current plan is to upgrade the Tulsa software to Build 3.1 during the month of December, which will restore IFP capability. The knowledge of AWIPS exhibited by the entire Tulsa staff was impressive.

The Norman system was delivered on Thursday evening, December 4, at about 8:30 p.m. It was unloaded Thursday night, connected and configured on Friday and early Saturday morning, and accepted by the government on Saturday, December 6, at 8:45 p.m. This system had incurred many problems during its factory testing and arrived on site four days late. An all-out effort was made by Weather Service Headquarters, Southern Region, the Norman staff, the AWIPS Acquisition Office, and PRC to get the system installed so training could begin on Monday, December 8. This was not your typical installation, with two PRC hardware and two PRC software teams assisting in the installation. A typical installation starts on Monday morning with the system being accepted on Thursday or Friday, some having been accepted as late as Saturday or Sunday.

Kudos are in order for Jerry Hunt, NWSFO Norman ESA, and his staff for having the site expertly prepared to accept the system. PRC was very impressed with the preparation work. This is the first site in the NWS to have their WSR-88D 56K line connected to AWIPS along with two 9.6K lines from two US Air Force WSR-88Ds. The forecast staff really seems to appreciate having the three radars available on one screen. They were used to having two radars available on their DARRRE system (one of the forerunners of AWIPS).


MARINE ZONE CHANGES. The coastal marine forecast zones were reconfigured on December 2. Considerable work was done by NWSFOs Austin/San Antonio, New Orleans/Baton Rouge, Miami, and San Juan to make the changeover so the new zones could be used in the coastal marine forecasts. The hard work paid off, resulting in little or no known confusion or disruption to users. Coastal NWSOs were also involved in the process as the new marine zones are being used in other products such as special marine warnings and short-term forecasts.

MODERNIZATION TRANSITION COMMITTEE MEETS. The Modernization Transition Committee (MTC) held their quarterly meeting December 10 in Silver Spring, Maryland. Automation and closure certifications for Southern Region WSOs Abilene, Tupelo, Victoria, and Wichita Falls were reviewed by the committee. These certifications were endorsed, but subject to the qualifications expressed by the MTC last June:

1. The number of trained staff in each modernized field office meets staffing requirements as established by the modernization criteria and documented in the National Implementation Plan and the Human Resources Plan. Delays in training or failure to fill required positions will increase the risk of degradation of service.

2. The availability of operational systems in each modernized field office meets requirements as established by the modernization criteria and documented in the System Commissioning and Support Function Demonstration Plans; and

3. The operational and administrative infrastructures and technical development needed to support the modernized field offices be maintained as required by the modernization plan.

No closure certifications for NWS WSOs have been finalized due to the qualifications placed on their endorsements by the MTC.

During the 60-day public-comment period held this fall for the proposed certifications, 19 individual comments and over 2,100 comments on printed forms were received expressing concern over the proposed closure of WSO Victoria. NWSO Corpus Christi MIC Joe Arellano made a presentation before the MTC on the products and services provided to the Victoria area by NWSO Corpus Christi. The MTC was concerned by the large number of public comments received from the Victoria area and requested an update on NWS efforts in Victoria in 6 months time.

SPOTTER/EMERGENCY MANAGER SUPPORT. As we move into the late fall and early winter months, severe weather again becomes a primary concern in the eastern states of the Southern Region. Offices in these states have already started their severe weather coordination activities. Some highlights . . .

NWSO Tampa Bay WCM Walt Zaleski represented the NWS at a two-day hamfest in Tampa. Walt provided several spotter training classes and helped staff an informational booth. Walt also conducted a survey of the hamfest attendees regarding NWSO TBW's products and services. The hamfest also provided an opportunity for Walt to build and strengthen relationships with the amateur radio groups in west-central Florida.

WCM Dennis Decker and the staff of NWSO Melbourne conducted a Warning Forecast and Coordination Course for emergency officials in Brevard County. A total of 20 people representing emergency management, local police and fire departments, and county government attended the course. Course topics included severe weather climatology, rip currents, Doppler radar products, and lightning. The course ended with a tour of the NWSO and a hands-on severe weather scenario.

EL NIÑO BRIEFINGS. As the current El Niño continues to affect weather across the Region, our offices continue providing information to local media and other customers.

NWSO Knoxville/Tri-Cities WCM Howard Waldron, Forecaster Terry Getz, and Met Intern Joanne LaBounty have provided several briefings to the media in east Tennessee. The primary interview subject is the anticipated impact of El Niño on the local area. In addition, the results of MRX's local studies have been placed on their Internet home page, where they received a great deal of attention.

NWSO Shreveport WCM Bruce Burkman provided an El Niño impact briefing to representatives from Caddo and Bossier Parishes in northwest Louisiana. Officials from emergency preparedness, the police and fire departments, the utilities companies, and the Department of Transportation were in attendance. Two TV stations also attended the briefing, which resulted in a 90-second spot on one of the local TV newscasts.

PUBLIC OUTREACH. Some highlights from across the Region . . .

NWSO Fort Worth/Dallas WCM Jim Stefkovich provided a 90-minute presentation to the North Texas Association of Contingency Planners. This group represents the regional or national headquarters of several major companies in the Dallas-Fort Worth area (JCPenney, Mobil Oil, EDS, etc.), and they also work closely with FEMA and other agencies on disaster planning. Jim's presentation featured a variety of topics, including north Texas severe weather, an overview of the SKYWARN program, EMWIN, and El Niño.

NWSO Shreveport WCM Bruce Burkman gave a presentation to the Northeast Louisiana University Student Chapter of the AMS. A total of 40 people, mostly from the NLU meteorology program, attended the presentation. Bruce's presentation featured a variety of topics, including NWS products and services, NOAA Weather Radio, severe weather and tornado climatology, and storm-spotter training.

NOAA WEATHER RADIO AT THE MALL. Amy Sebring of the Corpus Christi Emergency Management Agency and NWSO Corpus Christi WCM John Cole went to Sunrise Mall in Corpus Christi on the busiest shopping day of the year. They didn't go to buy the latest SAME radio, winter clothes, nor a Sing and Snore Ernie doll. Armed with NWR information such as a tri-fold poster, a Mark Trail poster, severe weather brochures, and various types of NWR receivers, Sunrise Mall shoppers were treated to a first-class NWR promotion event. A press release primed area residents about this event. Amy and John concentrated on SAME technology and FIPS codes. A FIPS code brochure was even constructed to help area residents. A glorious effort was made to insure shoppers how great a NWR receiver would be under the Christmas tree or in the stocking above the fireplace. A similar display is planned for Victoria. Two local television stations got on the bandwagon by interviewing both Amy and John for the evening broadcast. Great promotion!

NOAA WEATHER RADIO GROWS AGAIN. An expansion transmitter has been fired up in southern Maury County to serve the folks in south central Tennessee. Joe Baxter, Lawrence County Emergency Management Director, and Derrel Martin, MIC NWSO Nashville, solicited private funds in the community to establish this service. The antenna operates on a Tennessee Wild Resources Agency tower at 1,000 watts. At a frequency of 162.425 MHZ, the broadcast umbrella will serve the counties of Maury, Lawrence, Giles, Lewis, Lincoln, Marshall, and Wayne. Plans are being made to distribute alert-toned weather radio receivers to all public schools in the coverage area.

There has been a great need for NWR coverage in this area. In June 1994, a tornado injured 20 people and caused widespread damage in Iron City in southern Lawrence County. In the following year, May 18, 1995, brought another tornado that nearly leveled the city of Ethridge. Three people were killed and 22 injured in Lawrence County. This expansion site will continue our increased ability to protect life and property from severe weather. Hats off to all of those involved in the local community and at the Nashville office.

COWBOYS PLUG NWR. Under the expert guidance of Technical Advisor Gary Woodall; Executive Producer Larry Peabody; Director Ken Graham; and Screenwriter Rick Dittmann, Chad Hennings, defensive lineman of the Dallas Cowboys and former U.S. Air Force combat pilot, graciously recorded two 30-second and two 60-second audio NWR promotional messages for the NWS. The promos will be available on the Southern Region homepage, distributed to all WFOs in the Southern Region, and sent to radio stations in Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. If you would like more information on these PSAs, contact Gary or Ken at MSD. As the SR's version of the "Three Amigos" rode out of Valley Ranch and into the sunset, Director Graham was overheard shouting, "Today Chad Hennings, tomorrow the Cheerleaders!" Methinks Ken developed a Cecil B. de Mille complex about the time a dozen or so of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders sauntered by.


COLUMBIA'S "THANKSGIVING" MISSION LAUNCHES AND LANDS ON TIME AT KSC. Space Shuttle Columbia lifted off on time November 19, 1997, at 1946 UTC. The only weather concern was cirrus anvils from thunderstorms in the central Gulf being carried over central Florida by strong westerly upper-level winds. Although SMG's Return to Launch Site (RTLS) forecast remained GO throughout the launch count, the 45 WS Launch weather evaluation went "Red" or NO-GO for launch three hours prior to launch due to an anvil Launch Commit Criteria violation and did not go "Green" or GO until 45 minutes before launch.

Columbia's crew spent nearly sixteen days in space conducting experiments and space walks in support of the future international space station. The crew also spent Thanksgiving on board the shuttle and received a call from President Clinton who wished them continued success in space.

For landing day on December 5, timing the clearing of low clouds at KSC behind the cold front was the main forecast challenge. The NCEP Medium Range Forecast (MRF) model provided outstanding guidance in forecasting this cold front moving across Florida. The consistency of consecutive model runs, coupled with the NCEP MRF Ensemble forecasts, gave SMG confidence in the frontal timing and low-cloud clearing scenario as early as six days before landing. This enabled SMG to accurately forecast a GO for landing several days in advance.

The cold front pushed through the KSC area about eight hours before landing, as advertised by both the MRF and other short range NCEP models. The low clouds cleared the KSC area about two hours before landing, or about one hour before the deorbit burn. Skies remained mostly clear for the landing.

Columbia touched down on time at the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility on December 5, 1997, at 1221 UTC. This was the twelfth consecutive mission to end with a landing at the Kennedy Space Center and the nineteenth in the last twenty flights.

The lead forecaster for STS-87 was Richard Lafosse. Assistant lead/TAL site forecaster was Tim Garner. The lead Techniques Development Unit meteorologist was Mark Keehn.


NEW DEPUTY IN TOWN. Ben Weiger reported for duty as the Deputy Regional Hydrologist Monday, December 15. Ben comes to HSD from the Office of Hydrology in Silver Spring. Welcome, Ben!

ELDON BEARD RETIRED. NWSFO Norman service hydrologist Eldon Beard is now officially retired. Eldon graduated with a B.S. in Agricultural Engineering from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, OK in 1959. He began his federal employment with the Soil Conservation Service, later worked in the private sector for several years, and returned to the government with the Corps of Engineers, holding positions at both Fort Worth and Tulsa.

Eldon came to WSFO Oklahoma City on November 28, 1976. Throughout his career in Oklahoma City and Norman, he made many friends and won the respect of many colleagues at all levels of government. Eldon worked closely with the emergency management community providing advice and assistance on many self-help systems, linking two ALERT systems to the WSFO, promoting EMWIN and NOAA Weather Radio, etc. His most recent focus was on the WHFS system which has been in use at WSFO Norman since the spring of 1995.

Over 70 guests attended a retirement luncheon on December 2 to honor Eldon and senior forecaster Dennis Noble, who retired the same day.

HYDROLOGIC UPDATE. Due to recent rain events tracking across the southern United States, much of the southern Plains and the Southeast are experiencing wetter than normal soil moisture conditions. According to the Palmer Drought Index, most of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi are exceptionally wet, with parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana also experiencing abnormally moist conditions.

HEAVY RAINS IN THE TAMPA HSA. NWSO Tampa Bay Area service hydrologist Frank Alsheimer says that this fall has been quite active over western Florida. A significant event occurred during the middle of November when, with grounds already wet from recent rains, up to 11.5 inches of rain fell over parts of the HSA causing a flood of record on the Manatee River. The Little Manatee, Myakka, and Peace rivers and Horse Creek experienced floods of record for November. The record Manatee River flooding was marked by a rise from 2.2 feet to 18.2 feet in 12 to 14 hours (flood stage is seven feet).

More flooding occurred during a heavy rain December 9-14. Parts of central Florida measured over a foot of rain. Osceola County was severely impacted as 18 to 20 homes were evacuated and 40 roads closed at some point during the event. The Tampa Bay and Melbourne offices worked diligently to keep the public informed and the SERFC lent their support with 24-hour operations.

WATER NEEDED. NWSFO Little Rock service hydrologist Steve Bays reports that all rivers in the Little Rock Hydrologic Service Area (HSA) are at very low levels. Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers reservoirs are also experiencing very low levels. If the early fall rainfall trends (below normal) were to persist through the upcoming winter and spring, hydro power capabilities for next summer would be adversely impacted.

However, Steve has reminded us that in early December of 1982 (significant El Niño year), flooding of a 500- to 1,000-year recurrence resulted when overnight rains of up to 16 inches fell over a large part of Arkansas. The Buffalo River responded with a rise of over 50 feet in less than 12 hours.


RIO GRANDE COORDINATION. NWSFO Albuquerque senior service hydrologist, Ed Polasko, attended the Upper Rio Grande Water Operations Model technical review meeting. Ed, along with members of the COE, Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, and the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe, among others, reviewed the Rio Chama River Basin modeling pilot project. On a grand scale, the project developers intend to develop a computer model capable of simulating water storage and delivery operations in the Upper Rio Grande Basin so that more efficient and effective management of the basin's water supply can be realized.

Also from New Mexico, early season SNOTEL site numbers reveal a 133 percent of normal snow water equivalent in the Rio Chama basin and a 180 percent of normal snow water equivalent in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains.

NASHVILLE NEWS. A communications link (radio) has been established between the Tennessee Valley Authority South Nashville Office and the NWSO Nashville. The data being transferred is real-time rain gage data from the entire IFLOWS network, including critical eastern Tennessee stations.


LMRFC EXTENDS ITS HOURS OF OPERATION. The LMRFC has attained its MAR stage 2 staffing levels. Therefore, beginning Sunday, January 4, 1998, the LMRFC will begin 16 hours a day operations seven days a week. During the flood season (early January through May) HAS shifts will be staffed from at least 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. each day with hydrology shifts staffed from at least 7:00 a.m. until 11:00 p.m. every day. For the remainder of the year HAS shifts will be staffed from 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m. daily with additional forecasters on shift as flooding warrants.

As has been the routine during past events, the LMRFC will remain staffed 24 hours a day during significant flood events with field offices notified of any schedule updates via the hydrologic coordination message (HCM).

PUERTO RICO CLIMATOLOGY TALK. NWSFO San Juan MIC, Israel Matos, and SOO, Shawn Bennett, visited the Southeast River Forecast Center December 8-9, 1997, to follow up on the recent installation of the WHFS and developing hydrometeorological support program. Shawn gave a presentation on Puerto Rico weather regimes and rainfall, and how gravity waves affect rainfall patterns across the island. Shawn's papers are available on the NWSFO SJU home page whose URL is: http://www.upr.clu.edu/nws/.

His talk helped the SERFC staff understand the flash flood and river flood problems that are faced by the NWSFO. Israel and Shawn met with John Feldt (HIC, SERFC) and Reggina Garza (senior hydrologist, SERFC) to discuss outstanding issues, and to determine the next steps to be taken in furthering the successful hydrologic programs at both offices. The major items of discussion included: (1) the continuing of calibration efforts for the currently defined river basins, (2) providing additional SERFC support whenever required, and (3) enhancing and accelerating training with an SERFC-NWSFO staff exchange program.


RADAR ACTIVITIES AT TEXAS A&M. Prof. Mike Biggerstaff reported on a number of significant radar activities that are underway at Texas A&M and the Cooperative Institute for Applied Meteorological Studies (CIAMS):

Southern Region Headquarters assisted with arrangements to provide CIAMS with surplus WSR-74C radars at Meridian, Mississippi, and Lubbock, Texas. Plans are to turn these radars into a truck-mounted unit and upgrade the processor to provide full polarimetric and Doppler measurements. This would be a unique research platform allowing cutting-edge precipitation studies for local research, or as part of national and international field projects.

The A&M 10-cm "Aggie Doppler" radar will be upgraded with a new signal processor and it will be used again next spring as part of a major field program. The Texas-Florida Underpass (TEFLUN) experiment is meant to provide verification measurements for the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite that was launched on Thanksgiving Day. Data collected will also be used to further understanding of mesoscale convective systems and their impact on the larger-scale environment.

In support of a recent NOAA grant, CIAMS acquired access to the NSSL Warning Decision Support System (WDSS) software which contains advanced algorithms for severe weather prediction and detection. WDSS is used in conjunction with a T1 connection to the NWSO Houston WSR-88D (one of the first such connections in the nation). The user interface and WDSS display provides faculty and students with real-time access to WSR-88D data and products for teaching and research.

WINTER READING. The lead paper in the latest (December 1997) issue of Monthly Weather Review (MWR) is an exhaustive analysis of the March 1993 "Superstorm," which affected nearly every state in our region to a greater or lesser extent. "The March 1993 Superstorm Cyclogenesis: Incipient Phase Synoptic- and Convective-Scale Flow Interaction and Model Performance" was authored by Michael Dickinson, Lance Bosart, and others. A review of that paper would be both timely and enlightening.

The same issue of MWR contains the paper "Ensemble Forecasting at NCEP and the Breeding Method," by Zoltan Toth and Eugenia Kalnay. We recommend that for insight into current ensemble forecasting techniques at NCEP, and we also note that the upcoming (December 1997) issue of Weather and Forecasting should contain "An Ensemble Forecasting Primer," by Joel Sivillo and Jon Ahlquist (FSU/Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology). That paper will provide an even better introduction into ensemble techniques.

SIDE TRIP. While traveling to Norman to coordinate on a COMET Cooperative project with NSSL/OU staff, NWSO Tallahassee SOO Irv Watson visited NWSFO Lubbock. Prior to his SOO assignment, Irv worked at NSSL and he briefed the forecasters at Lubbock on results from the VORTEX field project. He also shared information about mesoscale modeling and other activities underway at Tallahassee, and he took notes on how the NWSFO utilizes its space in collaboration with Texas Tech University faculty and students. Plans continue to relocate the Tallahassee WFO on the Florida State University campus, adjacent to the building which houses the meteorology department.

OSF TELETRAINING STATUS. The distance-learning (DL) version of the WSR-88D Operations Course which is being provided by the OSF training branch seems to be running quite smoothly. This is especially encouraging since it is the first NWS-wide DL offering. Jami Boettcher (OSF/OTB) recently extended the following assessment and kudos:

We are nearing two-thirds completion of our Block 3 teletraining sections, and have one-fourth of our Block 4 sections finished! We are still experiencing a significant lack of technical problems and I thank you all for making this happen! The few problems that we have encountered have been easy fixes that will not be an issue once the offices get more accustomed to using the equipment. We do have transient phone quality problems from time to time, but even you folks couldn't help with that!

The OTB thanks you for the support you have provided already and will in the future. It's been invaluable and a good example of effective teamwork. Keep up the great work!

Bernard Meisner and Susan Beckwith (SSD) worked with all the Southern Region offices to help make sure the teletraining equipment was up and running prior to the OSF course. The interest and enthusiasm on everyone's part to use and evaluate this new approach to training is appreciated.

TELETRAINING INCLUDES FSU. When the Audiographics teletraining equipment was distributed to all offices recently, it was also loaned to the cooperative institutes at Texas A&M and Florida State. Last week Bernard Meisner (SSD) repeated his El Niño teletraining seminar for several offices, and CITM joined in. Prof. Henry Fuelberg offered the following assessment:

I have never seen distance learning this good . . . . Although it still might not be as good as one-on-one training, it is mighty close, and the cost savings are great, thereby permitting much more training to be done. As I teach our meso course this spring I will think of possible presentations that I might want to give [incorporating teletraining].

Our goal is to use the equipment to help faculty and students at the cooperative institutes better interact with NWS offices, and vice versa.

SOUTH TEXAS WINTER WEATHER WORKSHOP. Yes . . . and timely, too. The NWSO Corpus Christi staff conducted a workshop on winter weather last week, followed almost immediately by a wintery mix of light sleet and snow! SOO Andy Patrick covered the forecasting of fog/stratus and winter precipitation. He discussed the role of jet streaks and the primitive equations, and also conducted a forecast exercise that involved diagnosing soundings for potential winter precipitation. WCM John Cole described the preparation and issuance of various winter-weather products including outlooks, watches, advisories and warnings. Forecaster Steve Pfaff presented material from a recent coastal front seminar which he attended at NWSO Houston. He also gave a hands-on exercise involving diagnosing the potential for development of a coastal front.

TECHNICAL ATTACHMENTS. Attachments to this week's Topics include:

A summary of Southern Region papers and posters scheduled for the AMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix next month. There was an exceptional response from Southern Region offices for no fewer than eight conferences and symposia as part of the Annual Meeting. Good work to all who will participate.

A summary of the NWS National QPE/QPF Workshop that was held last month in Boulder, Colorado. This is a slightly-edited version of preliminary notes from the workshop, prepared by Tom Graziano (NWSH/Office of Meteorology). It is a good status report of a variety of actions underway at NWSH and the regions in the subject area.

The Heavy Rain and Flood Event of June 21-22, 1997 in South Central Texas and the Hill Country, by Robert Blaha and Bruce Thoren (NWSFO Austin/San Antonio).

CITM/NWSFO SAN JUAN CONNECTIONS. Matt Carter (FSU/CITM Ph.D. candidate) visited NWSFO San Juan earlier this month to work with Shawn Bennett (SOO) and forecasters on research plans, and also to present a seminar on the Puerto Rico (PR) Probabilistic Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (PQPF) experiment. The PR PQPF experiment, planned to begin next February, is being supported by a recently-funded COMET Cooperative Project which links the NWSFO with the Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology at FSU (Prof. Jim Elsner and his student, Matt Carter).

During the seminar, Matt discussed statistical methods for predicting inter-annual variability in monthly rainfall departures from normal. This method could be applied to predicting future droughts as well as wet periods. He also presented FSU Prof. Noel LaSeur's idea of using moist static energy profiles of the tropical atmosphere for diagnosing the potential for convection and heavy rainfall. Matt also visited the USGS office with Eloy Colon (service hydrologist) to discuss requirements for USGS data sets that will support the PR PQPF Experiment research.


PUERTO RICO FAA WSR-88D ISSUES DISCUSSED AT FAA SOUTHERN REGION HEADQUARTERS. Tom Grayson and Martin Garcia (SRH/SOD) and Israel Matos and Shawn Bennett (NWSFO San Juan) met with FAA Southern Region Headquarters officials, as well as NWS and FAA Headquarters officials and representatives of the OSF, to discuss the daily operation and maintenance of the NEXRAD near Cayey, Puerto Rico. Also, issues related to the installation of microwave telecommunications, backup generator and power conditioning systems were on the agenda. The meeting, which had the potential for being contentious, turned out to be quite productive. The meeting was well orchestrated by Joe Dunville, FAA Southern Region Operations Manager, and Tom Grayson, NWS Southern Region SOD. The meeting provided a forum for both agencies to clarify their respective viewpoints with regard to the issues. This provided the opportunity for both agencies to come to a mutual agreement on the issues at hand and generate a list of action items which will improve the operation and service availability of the NEXRAD.


SOUTHERN REGION PERSONNEL DATABASE. During this past year, with all the turmoil and disruption occurring at Southern Region HQ, the personnel database suffered a gradual decay. Leon Minton worked with Camille Dyer to identify the problems. Camille has taken over the tasks once handled by Sam Balandran,who now works for the Environmental Protection Agency in Dallas, Texas. With the problems identified, Leon updated/repaired the Visual Basic Programs and Crystal Reports which extract and massage the Microsoft Access Database. The Weekly Status Reports sent out to MICs and HICs should begin to reflect these changes. Any feedback as to corrections or enhancements are welcome.

CONSOLE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM (CRS). Each office will be receiving a packet of information called "CRS JUMP-START KIT." The packet will include:

1. An Introductory Guidebook, which is targeted for the CRS focal point.

2. A copy of the CRS Initial Database Utility(IDU) software and documentation. This utility program can be used to help build a site specific information for use when installing CRS.

3. A copy of the AFOS hourly weather roundup formatter program to be run on AFOS.

4. A copy of the STORMI program which can be used to format product and drive CRS.

Several other documents are also included in the packet:

1. CRS Installation Plan (CIP)

2. Generic Data Base

3. CRS Site Programming Sheet

4. CRS ASCII Database Specification

5. Two copies for the CRS Video.

Please go through the packet when you receive it at your office to ensure you have everything. If something is missing, please call Mario Valverde at (817) 978-2367, Ext. 124.


COOPERATIVE NETWORK EXPANSION. The NWSH is continuing to push for a minimum of one temperature/precipitation-reporting cooperative observer per county. Each of these observers would be required to report daily, using the PC-ROSA system, as well as submit the monthly form. These observers may be a part of the current "a" or "b" networks or may be a new station specifically established to support this need. These stations would be part of a "c" network since they would be in support of the meteorology functions of the NWS. Please review your current networks and let us know how many MMTS units you would need to complete the project.

NON-FEDERAL OBSERVATIONS PROGRAM. The NWSH has provided a draft OML dealing with this new type of observer. Responses are due at NWSH in early January 1998. If you are interested in reviewing this OML, please let your DAPM know.

TRAINING MANUAL. Dale Rodda, from the Lake Charles, Louisiana, office, has been working closely with NWSH to develop a training manual aimed at providing assistance to SAWRS and LAWRS observers. Dale has spent a great deal of time developing the manual and it is in the final stages of review. It is hoped that it will go to print shortly after the first of the year.

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