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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas

December 1999

SOUTHERN TOPICS


REGIONAL DIRECTOR

As the year, decade, century, and millennium (whether you feel it begins in a few days or in over a year) come to an end, it is fitting to pause and reflect on the many accomplishments in the Southern Region and consider our bright future. As usual, the past year saw many hazardous weather events that challenged our offices all across the region from the standpoint of forecasts and warnings, maintaining systems/facilities, and administrative support. In all cases, everyone pulled together to ensure our vital mission of protecting life and property was accomplished. Looking back through the past 10 years, and previous decades, it has been this dedication and can-do spirit of Southern Region employees which allowed us to meet the challenge of being the most weather active region in the United States. It will be this spirit that will launch us into the future.

We succeed because we exercise the core values of the NWS. As I travel around the region, your commitment to serving our customers, maintaining high standards, and earning the trust and respect of others is obvious. As we enter a new century and millennium, these basic values will allow us to meet our future challenges and take advantage of those opportunities to make the NWS and Southern Region even better than it is today.

We have made remarkable progress since the NWS modernization began over a decade ago. This Holiday Season is special because we celebrate completion of the modernization and we now look to the future to better serve the American people. For now, it is only appropriate that we take the time to appreciate the people we hold dear. On behalf of everyone in the Southern Region Headquarters, I wish you all a very merry Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

Bill Proenza

AWIPS

AWIPS. During November, Tulsa joined Corpus Christi as the second Southern Region office to operate on AWIPS independently of AFOS. Each office is required to begin operations without AFOS at least 60 days prior to their AWIPS commissioning date. The commissioning schedule is available at http://www.awips_commissioning.nws.noaa.gov/.

Southern Region has an approach different from the other regions to becoming completely operational on AWIPS. Instead of going site by site, we are doing it interface by interface. This approach resulted in almost all hardware interfaces being switched to AWIPS by the end of November. Various software packages, such as the hourly weather and verification, are also being configured on AWIPS to replace their AFOS counterparts. A checklist of things to accomplish before commissioning is at http://srhawips.srh.noaa.gov/commissioning/checklist.html.

As an office begins operating without AFOS, however, all products will be issued only by AWIPS. The AFOS will continue to run, until decommissioning, which will happen about a month after AWIPS commissioning. This means AFOS is Y2K compliant, but budget concerns dictate it will not operate past the end of FY2000.

METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES DIVISION

FLASH SUPPORT.The Florida Alliance for Safe Homes steering committee met this month in Tallahassee. The NWS representative, Steven Cooper, reports that the group is making good progress in developing materials for outreach to the citizens of Florida. For example, the second newsletter from the group (distributed in December) included an interview with Steven concerning NOAA Weather Radio. He provided a small demonstration of his portable NWR and explained the benefits of the device. State Farm Insurance has built a "safehome" in Deerfield Beach, Florida which includes state of the art safety equipment and serves as an example of what homeowners can do to mitigate the loss of life and property in all types of perils. State Farm has committed to having an NWR in the home for demonstration purposes by early January.

FLASH will also begin airing Public Service Announcements (PSAs) in January. One of the 30-second PSAs will include a promotion for NWR. This is in addition to Web site links and newsletter information distributed by FLASH. FLASH will have a booth at the Governor's Hurricane Conference in May 2000.

NWR CONTINUES TO EXPAND ACROSS THE REGION.Four new NOAA Weather Radio transmitters were installed recently. Clarksville, Tennessee and Grove, Oklahoma (in Jay) are cooperator sites with plans to donate their transmitters to the NWS. As part of the local, state and federal expansion we've completed two installations in Georgia; one in Brunswick and one at Wauka Mountain near Cleveland. Additionally, the tower site at Jacksonville, Florida was relocated, providing increased coverage and backup power.

BRUNSWICK HOLDS DEDICATION CEREMONY.On November 12, Southern Region Deputy Director, Gary Grice, and Director of Georgia Emergency Management Agency, Gary McConnell, were key speakers at the dedication in Brunswick, Georgia, of the first of 14 planned transmitters going up in Georgia through a partnered expansion project. MIC Steve Letro and DAPM Mike McAllister represented the NWSO Jacksonville which will program this transmitter. Local, state and federal elected officials were also present. The overriding theme was to put a NOAA Weather Radio receiver in every home.

Y2K AND CEM MADE TO ORDER. Atlanta has been working closely with Georgia Emergency Management Agency on getting the word out on Y2K issues. The Civil Emergency Message (CEM) provides the solution for providing critical information to local customers as we cross over into the new millennium. For less critical, but important information the PNS may be more appropriate given acceptable weather conditions. You may wish to contact your local EM to remind them of this valuable tool.

CRS COMMISSIONING. CRS commissioning is on a fast pace across the region, with a deadline for commissioning of February 15. To have time to review and forward to headquarters, please have your commissioning plan to Doug Crowley by the end of January 2000. The commissioning plan is Addendum II of the Site Component Commissioning Plans: AWIPS & CRS and is available at http://www.awips_commissioning.nws.noaa.gov/. Doug reports three offices had their plans in before the Thanksgiving holiday.

U.S. GOVERNMENT BLUE PAGES. NWSFO Austin/San Antonio senior forecaster, Larry Peabody, has been working diligently for over a year with a staff of GSA analysts in compiling and adding additional information to the weather section of the Government Blue Page listings for select cities. Some of the items included are NOAA Weather Radio frequencies of the nearest NWR station, Internet address of the responsible WFO (plus the regional and national NWS Internet addresses), mailing address of the WFO and any and all public telephone numbers the public can call for weather reports, forecasts, climate. Additional information includes the NCDC public phone number and Internet address, as well as regional or state climate centers, where appropriate.

To date, Larry has helped place the National Weather Service into about 300 phone books nationwide. Obviously he and GSA cannot reach all phone books. You may wish to contact your local communities and ask to have this same information placed in their phone book listings. Larry has graciously agreed to be the region-wide contact if you have any questions concerning this outreach endeavor.

BROCHURE SUPPORT. One of the most effective ways to get our preparedness message to our customers is through the use of tailored brochures. Besides containing "generic" safety tips, these brochures also allow for specific, localized guidelines. Below are some projects from across the Region.

NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge WCM Frank Revitte participated in a multi-agency project to develop a hurricane brochure for East Baton Rouge Parish. Others involved with the brochure's development include the Parish Emergency Management Agency, the USGS, Dow Chemical, and Shadow Broadcasting. Frank provided input regarding hurricane safety rules and supplied electronic images of hurricanes Georges and Andrew. The brochure will be a large tri-fold format, and will include the NWS logo, the NWSFO's URL, NOAA Weather Radio frequencies, and evacuation maps.

NWSO Melbourne senior forecaster Tim Troutman and WCM Dennis Decker have completed a hazardous weather brochure for their CWA. The brochure discusses hazards and safety tips for hurricanes, tornadoes, lightning and floods, and also includes NWR frequencies and the NWSO's Internet address. Over 2,000 brochures were sent to each chamber of commerce and emergency management agency in their area. The office hopes to secure sponsorship to obtain a wider distribution of the brochure across their CWA.

SCHOOL OUTREACH/SUPPORT. Southern Region offices continue their strong outreach efforts with local schools. Schools pose a special concern because of the high concentration of people in sometimes-vulnerable locations. Here are a few highlights from our offices.

NWSO El Paso WCM John Fausett coordinated with the Tigua Indian Nation for the purchase of NWR receivers for all schools in El Paso County. John attended the press conference regarding this event and gave several interviews stressing the importance of NWR. John will also work with the school district and the emergency management to develop hazardous weather plans for each school by next spring.

NWSFO Austin/San Antonio WCM Larry Eblen gave a severe weather safety class to 76 school bus driver trainers from across Texas. Additional representatives from Ohio were also present. Larry discussed severe weather formation, storm types, and environmental clues related to severe weather. Larry emphasized vehicle safety, NWR, SAME technology, and EMWIN.

NWSFO Tulsa WCM Steve Piltz was invited by the CBS-TV affiliate in Fort Smith, Arkansas to conduct an evaluation of an elementary school's severe weather preparedness plan. With a camera rolling, Steve visited the school. In an on-camera interview he gave the school high marks for its plan (much to the relief of the school principal). The story aired several times in the Fort Smith area and was a positive story for both the NWSFO and the Fort Smith area schools.

SPOTTER/EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATION. Perhaps our strongest partnerships remain with the storm spotters and emergency managers. Southern Region offices have continued their efforts to advance these important relationships, as the examples below show.

NWSO Shreveport WCM Bruce Burkman participated in a roundtable meeting involving the City of Longview, Texas, the American Red Cross, Trinity Industries, the Longview/East Texas Amateur Radio Club (LETARC), and the NWSO. The purpose of the meeting was to enhance the cooperation among the agencies, especially in the area of emergency communications. The LETARC has established an Emergency Communications Center which will pass information between the NWSO, the spotters, and others. The LETARC will also operate an EMWIN rebroadcast site to transmit information to customers in a text format.

NWSO Corpus Christi WCM Terry Huber and forecaster John Metz met with representatives of the Union Carbide plant in Calhoun County. During the meeting, Assistant Plant Manager Graham Painter presented Terry and John with a new amateur radio and an antenna to assist with hazardous weather communications. Mr. Painter also commended the NWSO for outstanding support during hurricane Bret and noted that several critical decisions were made based on the products and services provided by the NWSO.

NWSO Key West WCM Wayne Presnell has collaborated with the National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) office to obtain wave height estimates from NMS boats traveling in the Keys. The NMS donated a marine radio and antenna to the NWSO and Wayne provided training on estimating wave heights. In addition to wave estimates, the NMS crews will also report other significant weather such as strong winds and waterspouts.

The Tennessee NWS Offices were well represented at the annual Emergency Managers Association of Tennessee meeting. NWSFO Memphis MIC Jim Duke and WCM John White, NWSO Nashville MIC Derrel Martin and WCM Jerry Orchanian, and NWSO Morristown MIC Jerry McDuffie and WCM Howard Waldron were all in attendance. Jim gave a presentation on improving weather communications, NWR expansion, and river gauges.

The staff of NWSO San Angelo was recently commended by the Vice Commander of Goodfellow Air Force Base for their support of the base's disaster readiness exercises. The NWSO staff has helped design realistic exercise scenarios and developed mock outlooks, watches, and warnings. During the exercises, the NWSO contacted the base command post with updated information and to answer questions from the base staff. The Vice Commander stated that the NWSO's support has been key to the success of their exercises.

NWSFO Tulsa MIC Lans Rothfusz, WCM Steve Piltz, and DAPM Mike Teague attended a dedication ceremony for the Grove, Oklahoma NOAA Weather Radio transmitter. The ceremony was attended by the mayor and city council, a state senator, emergency management directors, Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management representatives, and the private sector cooperators (Grand Telephone and Grand River Rural Electric Cooperative) who helped bring the transmitter online. The highlight of the dedication was a "ceremonial tone alert" at the beginning of Lans' presentation. This activated several NWR receivers at the site, giving a powerful demonstration of NWR's capability.

NWSO Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian and the NWSO staff coordinated with local emergency managers to conduct an extensive hazardous materials drill. The two-hour drill tested the procedures for notifying the NWSO of a hazmat occurrence and for generating the appropriate products at the NWSO. These mock products were prepared, disseminated, and tone-alerted on the local NOAA Weather Radio transmitter. All aspects of the drill seemed to work smoothly.

MEDIA OUTREACH/SUPPORT. Some noteworthy projects from across the Region.

NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge was recently visited by a film and interview crew from Louisiana State University. The crew was preparing a documentary on weather and filmed several scenes of NWSFO operations. The crew also interviewed MIC Paul Trotter, senior forecaster Michael Shields, and DAPM Gilbert Barton. Each gave a segment on duties, responsibilities, technology, communications, and advances in forecasting. The NWSFO also provided NWS modernization and local preparedness videotapes for their use.

NWSFO Fort Worth conducted a series of five workshops for the Dallas-Fort Worth area television weathercasters. The seminars focused on the use of WSR-88D products, algorithm output, and the integrated warning system. The NWSFO staff also provided a tour of their facility, a demonstration of AWIPS and WarnGen, and discussions on the partnership between the NWS and the media. The seminars were very well received, and the NWSFO hopes to conduct similar workshops for the Waco/Killeen and the Sherman/Denison areas by early next year.

The November workshops brought the following praise from one of the NWSFO's broadcast partners:

Many thanks for an informative and most valuable radar analysis conference yesterday. I think highly of all of you and very much value our on-going working relationship; which is especially critical during severe weather. Your interest in continuing radar education for the local Dallas/Ft. Worth TV meteorologists/media is admirable and very much appreciated. I look forward to continually working with each of you as we strive to increase warning time and our most significant goal; saving lives.

NWSO Key West WCM Wayne Presnell coordinated with Monroe County Information Services to display weather-related information on a local cable channel. The NWSO will create electronic slide shows and send them to the station. The channel will broadcast the shows about once an hour for a week. Slide show topics will include hazardous weather preparedness, interesting weather events, spotter training/open house schedules, and office information. The channel will also broadcast audio from the local NWR transmitter.

DON'T MESS WITH TEXAS. The NWSO Brownsville staff has put action to the state's official clean-roadside motto; they've adopted a two-mile stretch of local highway, a major feeder road from Brownsville and the port to US Highway 77. Their photo has already been featured in the Brownsville Herald. Those involved in a recent trash pickup were senior forecasters Paul Yura, Tim Speece, and Scott Cordero (and Scott's fiancee Edwina Briones), Jim Campbell (DAPM), and MIC Richard Hagan. Richard noted that picking up trash along a highway is always an adventure. When they were almost done one recent Saturday morning, a rather large man stopped along the road in a section they had just cleaned and began dumping metal cans on the shoulder! "We convinced him to pick them back up," said Richard. This being Texas, we hope there was a smile on their faces when they said that!

NEWS FROM THE CENTER WEATHER SERVICE UNITS. The following is a report of recent noteworthy activities in the Region's CWSU program.

The final tasks to place the CWSUs on the regional frame relay network are being completed. The server systems have been configured and communications lines have been ordered for each of the CWSUs. Representatives from each CWSU and the supporting WFO received 2 days of training at SRH the first week of this month. The System training was conducted by SOD and SSD, as well as Jack Gross, NWSFO Miami SOO. Jack had spent a week at SRH in October performing the original configuration on the systems.

Progress continues concerning organization of a national CWSU conference. The conference is scheduled for February 7-11, 2000 in Kansas City. It will draw representatives from the nation's CWSUs, WFOs, the AWC, and select customer groups. Conference organizers are finalizing the agenda. Vince Carreras, MIC CWSU Houston, is our regional focal point for conference issues.

CWSU Atlanta. On October 14, NCEP/AWC Director Dave Rodenhuis, Deputy Director Jim Henderson and lead forecaster Paul Fike, along with Elliott Barske from the Alaskan Aviation Weather Unit visited the CWSU. Topics of discussion included new initiatives to support CWSU operations, CWSU use of AWC products, coordination among the AWC, CWSUs and WFOs, and the results of the Collaborative Convective Forecast Project.

CWSU Fort Worth. MIC Tom Hicks remains an active participant in the WARP OT&E activities. He has been participating in weekly telcons regarding the next generation of WARP and he traveled to Seattle in November, to meet with the OT&E team.

Dr. Stan Benjamin of NOAA's Forecast Systems Lab has expressed considerable interest in implementing an enhanced version of Tom's RUC2 guidance product. His plan is to establish, with Tom's help, an interactive Web site that would permit viewing of RUC2 forecast data simply by clicking on a map.

CWSU Houston. Training for 85 Continental Airline dispatchers was recently conducted. Continental reports that the training provided by the CWSU was outstanding. More training classes are planned for next year. Leslie Petersen is putting the final touches on the ZHU Web page. It can be viewed at http://www.hia.net/zman/.

CWSU Memphis. Larry Boatman helped air traffic information technology personnel configure a computer and its peripherals that will enable the CWSU to conduct NetMeeting weather briefings to Memphis TRACON in the near future.

AVIATION TEAM ACTIVITIES. The first meeting of the Regional Aviation Team was held at SRH during the week of November 15. The two and one-half days of discussions among the six-member team resulted in a number of innovative ideas for improving the regional program. The team's focus was on four primary initiatives: changing the corporate culture of the program, increasing the effectiveness and responsiveness of aviation forecasts, improving customer satisfaction, and establishing a viable regional aviation training program. The team will begin development of a comprehensive plan to lay out proposed implementation methodology and timelines. The plan's target completion date is March 1.

FIRE WEATHER ACTIVITIES. Chuck Maxwell, IMET from NWSFO Albuquerque, represented the Southern Region on the national fire weather format team which recently met in Salt Lake City. The team was tasked with developing a national standardized fire weather forecast and was successful. The work the Southern Region fire weather team did in developing a regional standardized format formed a basis for the national standard. Apparently, the national standard, like the Southern Region's, will accommodate both a narrative and tabular approach.

Jim Noffsinger, IMET from NWSFO Atlanta, is representing the Southern Region on the national ATMU team. The team is tasked with looking at a number of aspects of the new ATMU, including caching, data acquisition, packet delivery, and system docking.

HYDROLOGIC SERVICES DIVISION

HSD TRAVELS. Hydrologic Program Manager Bob Carle traveled to Duluth, Minnesota last month to attend an NWS/Corps of Engineers coordination meeting on issues relating to the Mississippi River mainstem and its major tributaries. The meeting included representatives from field offices and headquarters in the Central and Southern Regions.

Deputy Chief, Ben Weiger, attended a meeting in NWSH Nov. 30-Dec. 3, that addressed technical issues arising from the timelines for changeover of the QPF preparation from the WFO to the RFC. The process, which is just in its initial stages, will require about one year to complete.

HSD Chief, Jerry Nunn, attended a Region Division Chiefs' retreat in Sherman, Texas, Nov. 8-9, where the NWS Strategic Plan and its tie-in to the Southern Region Implementation Plan were discussed.

LCRA PARTNERSHIP RESPONSE. The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) manages water resources in Central Texas, a heavily populated area which experiences probably the highest frequency of heavy rainstorms and flash floods in the nation. Accurate and timely radar-rainfall estimates and forecasts from our WFOs, and hydrologic services from the West Gulf RFC in Fort Worth, are vital to LCRA operations. In response to their request, SRH (SSD and HSD) arranged a one-day meeting at LCRA headquarters in Austin on November 2 to discuss related issues. The LCRA is particularly concerned about improving radar-rainfall estimates.

At the meeting, Tim O'Bannon (OSF), Ken Howard (NSSL), Jay Breidenback (NWSH/OH), and Mike Biggerstaff (CIAMS/Texas A&M) provided expert information on current radar-rainfall algorithms, as well as current algorithm research and plans for future radar and hydro developments. We appreciate their quick and very effective response to our request for their participation. MICs/HICs and other representatives from WFOs Austin/San Antonio, Houston, and San Angelo, and RFC Fort Worth discussed case studies and operational experiences. As a group, these individuals did an excellent job of addressing LCRA concerns. They provided an accurate picture of present operational capabilities, as well as both near-term and longer-range activities that will clearly address LCRA concerns. More can be done to address the needs of the LCRA and other Texas river authorities, and as a result of the work reported by OH, NSSL and the OSF we identified areas in which we might enlist further support from the LCRA to focus on Central Texas concerns.

NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS

Continued below normal rainfall was pretty much the norm across the HSAs of the Southern Region. A good portion of the region continues under moderate drought conditions with a few areas experiencing severe drought levels. October E5 reports mentioned several observers measuring less than an inch of precipitation for the month. Many rivers, streams and reservoirs remain at below normal levels with some locations setting new record low flows.

SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION

FRAME RELAY NETWORK TRAINING FOR CWSUs. Representatives from all seven Southern Region CWSUs joined the ESAs and SAC focal points from their parent WFOs for several days of training at SRH during the last week of November. The CWSUs will soon be connected to our regional Frame Relay network, which will provide them access to both operational and experimental model output and satellite imagery. Each CWSU will be provided with a LINUX PC running NAWIPS and GARP to ingest and display the model output and imagery. The topics covered during the training included system configuration, administration and security, data ingest, and NAWIPS and GARP tutorials. The CWSU and WFO focal points worked together to program the machines to meet their specific needs. Collaboration will continue after they return to their offices.

GEORGIA SEVERE STORMS RESEARCH CENTER. Following the Hall County tornado in north Georgia in 1998, the State of Georgia formed the Severe Storms Research Center (SSRC) to address the weather warning needs within the state, working in conjunction with the NWS, NSSL and Georgia Tech. Funding was provided by FEMA and the Georgia EMA (GEMA). Under contract to SSRC, NSSL recently installed the latest version of WDSS (Warning Decision Support System) at WFO Atlanta and the SSRC (at the Georgia Tech Research Institute). WDSS ingests and composites WSR-88D data from three radars - Hytop, Alabama; Peachtree City (Atlanta); and Greer, South Carolina. The WDSS advanced algorithms provide the WFO with capabilities 2-4 years ahead of those available to most NWS offices. SSRC and Georgia Tech faculty have also undertaken research directed at enhancing warning capabilities.

On November 17 SSRC, Georgia Tech, NSSL and NWS representatives from the WFO and SRH met at GTRI to discuss progress and future plans. GTRI researchers described several projects which could have promise for enhancing NWS warning operations. NSSL (Mike Eilts and DeWayne Mitchell) briefed on status and plans for WDSS. The SSRC will have no operational role in warnings, but it may be beneficial to WFO/EMA coordination if the Cobb County EMA is allowed access to the nearby GTRI WDSS displays (GTRI is located in far north Atlanta). Details of the collaboration will be worked out before next spring. Additional training and familiarization by Atlanta forecasters on the WDSS will help them to fully utilize the system. Atlanta joins Fort Worth, Jackson, Melbourne, Tulsa and Norman as the only Southern Region WFOs currently equipped with WDSS.

MIGRATION OF NCEP MODELS TO CLASS VIII COMPUTER. The NCEP programmers have been busy migrating the model suite to the IBM SP computer now relocated to Bowie, Maryland.

ETA-32. The Eta-32 is being run four times per day (0000, 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC) on the IBM SP. Model output is being distributed via AWIPS Satellite Broadcast Network and the Family of Services and is being made available on the OSO and NCEP ftp servers. These full resolution runs are equivalent to those that were being made on the C-90 computer before the fire and replace the degraded 80 km 0000 and 1200 UTC Eta runs and the 36 km 0600 and 1800 UTC AFWA MM5 runs which were used as replacements. (Note the former 0300 UTC run has been moved to its original target time of 0600 UTC. It was run only by necessity at 0300 UTC on the C-90.)

RUC-2. As of the 1500 UTC run on Nov 18 RUC-2 processing began on the IBM SP. The RUC-2 output had been provided by NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL) after the Cray C90 fire. There are a few differences between the FSL and the NCEP versions (described in http://maps.fsl.noaa.gov/rucbackup_diff.html), including more advanced versions of code running at FSL. The NCEP and FSL will work to incorporate these improvements into the NCEP version. The first priority will be eight additional output variables, including cloud base/height, surface visibility, and surface wind gusts. The implementation date of these changes is not known at this time.

AVN/MRF. The NCEP expects to increase the spatial resolution of the AVN/MRF system from T126/L28(~105 km) to T170/L42 (~80 km) during the week of January 17th. Approval from CAFTI was obtained in June 1999 and NCEP has been waiting for the IBM SP to become the production machine before making the change.

The greater resolution will allow NCEP to make better use of observations, make better forecasts of synoptic-scale storms, and provide better initial and boundary conditions to the other forecast suites run at NCEP. An earlier version of the T170 model was introduced in June 1998, but was subsequently withdrawn due to problems. The new version has been extensively tested. An online presentation of the planned implementation is available at: http://lnx29.ncep.noaa.gov/maps/t170.html

Model Output Soundings. For a limited period of time NCEP will generate Eta model output soundings in both the "old" (five digit) format as currently being run on the NCEP SGI machine and the "new" (six digit) Eta-32 model soundings run on the new IBM machine. Both versions are available on the OSO server, with files from the Eta-32 run containing 48-hr forecasts. With the migration to the IBM SP, RUC-2 model soundings are again available on the OSO server. Soundings from the NGM continue to be available on the OSO server.

This means offices should install the new version of the modsnd scripts, since the new version of get_bufr script will work with both five-digit and expanded six-digit BUFR sounding files. The modsnd package is available in the /contrib directory on the soo-sac ftp server and in the /usr1/tar_files subdirectory our regional model output server "bill" as:

modsnd_99.readme, and modsnd_99.tar.Z

NCEP Production Schedule Web Page. The NCEP has created a Web page (http://www.ncep.noaa.gov/director/supercomputer/ncep_ibmdelivery.html) with planned dates when the various models will start running on the IBM SP computer and subsequent times when the model output might be available. A link to this page is available on the SSD Numerical Weather Prediction Web page:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ssd/nwpmodel/html/nwplinks.htm

WATADS Y2K COMPLIANT VERSION RELEASED. The Y2K compliant version of WATADS, version 10.2, is now available on the NSSL ftp server (ftpnssl.nssl.noaa.gov) and in the /usr1/tar_files/WATADS subdirectory on the Southern Region server. If you plan to process data archived after December 31, 1999, you will need WATADS10.2. The installation instructions can be found at: http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/~watads

As in previous releases of WATADS, data processed with earlier versions may be viewed with WATADS 10.2. However, if the algorithms are to be run, the data should be processed completely with WATADS 10.2. The documentation has not changed since there have been no significant changes to the algorithms between WATADS 10.1 and WATADS 10.2.

There are some Y2K problems that NSSL has not been able to solve. These are in the WATADS precipitation and snow displays. The starting and ending dates/times in these two modules will show the year 2000 as 100, not 00 as in other RADS images. Also, the RADS title bar will indicate that you are using WATADS 10.1 (not 10.2). These problems are cosmetic only, and should not affect the performance of the algorithms.

Note also the WATADS mailing list has been changed from watads-list@doplight.nssl.noaa.gov to watads-list@nssl.noaa.gov. Please send all future mail for the watads-list to the new address.

LEARNING IN THE DIGITAL AGE. John Ferree and Don Rinderknecht from the WSR-88D Operations Support Facility in Norman, Oklahoma, attended TechLearn '99 in Orlando, Florida. Over 2,500 people from industry, academic, military, and government organizations, including 32 countries participated in TechLearn '99. The conference theme was "Learning in the Digital Age" and focused on several areas, including:

Aligning learning with the goals of my business or organization,

Getting the right knowledge into the minds of the men and women in my organization, and changing their ability to learn,

Learning organizations collaborating and forming partnerships, and

Focusing on people and performance, not on technology.

Many of the conference presentations will be posted as streaming audio/video on the Internet over the next few weeks. Links to these presentations will be added to the OTB Web page so others involved in NWS training might benefit.

MOS GRAPHICS ON THE WEB. The Techniques Development Laboratory (TDL) has placed most of the current AVN, MRF and NGM MOS products for the CONUS in graphical format on the TDL Web site. Maps are available for most of the forecast products (temperatures, dew points, PoPs, QPFs, etc) for all projections. Links to the graphics are available through SSD's Numerical Weather Prediction Links Web page: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ssd/nwpmodel/html/nwplinks.htm

The TDL would like to know whether forecasters think there is a need to view graphically a MOS product that covers the CONUS.

COMET CSI WEBCAST RELEASED. The COMET program has announced the release of a Webcast entitled "The Use and Misuse of Conditional Symmetric Instability." This Webcast features NSSL researcher David Schultz presenting material based on a paper that will appear in a future issue of Monthly Weather Review. It is delivered as a streaming audio lesson with accompanying text and graphics and may be accessed at: http://meted.ucar.edu/export/csi. This lesson was developed for the forecast community based on a similar presentation made by Dr. Schultz during the COMET Program's COMAP residence course for NWS SOOs.

In this 30 minute Webcast, Dr. Schultz outlines the subtle and often confusing issues surrounding Conditional Symmetric Instability (CSI). Material is then presented to encourage the meteorological community to properly apply these concepts to diagnose actual regions of CSI and apply that knowledge to forecasting banded precipitation. Avenues for future research are also discussed.

COMET welcomes any comments you may have regarding the content, instructional approach, or use of this material. A short online survey is included under "Send Your Comments" on the home page, and COMET encourages users to share their opinions of this new technology.

COMET NWP TRAINING MATERIALS RELEASE.The COMET program has released new Web-based training materials developed for the first two components of the Numerical Weather Prediction Professional Development Series (PDS).

The first module, "Impact of Model Numerics on Weather Depiction," (http://meted.ucar.edu/nwp/pcu1/ic2/index.htm) provides background information on model type, horizontal resolution, vertical coordinate systems, vertical resolution, domain and boundary conditions, with an emphasis on how each aspect can affect a model's ability to depict and forecast weather.

The second module, "Characteristics of Operational NWP Models," (http://meted.ucar.edu/nwp/pcu2/index.htm) contains information about the characteristics and architecture of commonly used operational models, their operationally significant strengths and weaknesses, and model assessment tools. At present, the matrix contains information about the Eta Model and the AVN/MRF with some additional links. New content will be added and materials will be continually updated to reflect significant model changes. For convenience, both modules are linked to each other via their navigation menus.

Both modules require a JavaScript-enabled browser such as Netscape Navigator (4.5) or Internet Explorer (4.x) to function properly. The NWP PDS site that describes the scope and training goals of these and future NWP training materials is available at: http://meted.ucar.edu/nwp/index.htm.

COMET welcomes comments about the content, instructional approach, and use of these materials, and encourages users to submit the short online survey accessed via "Send Your Comments" on each module's top page.

SATELLITE NEWS

Initiating GOES Rapid Scan Operation.To date, GOES Rapid Scan Operations (RSOs) have only been initiated by specific requests from a field office or a research organization, such as CIRA. Earlier this year, a proposal was made to minimize the number of redundant RSO requests by implementing automatic RSO triggers, such as the issuance of a Moderate or greater Risk of severe weather for Day One by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), or the issuance of a Hurricane Warning by the National Hurricane Center. On November 18, the SPC and the NCEP senior duty meteorologists agreed to implement the moderate or greater risk as an automatic trigger.

GOES Assessment Meeting.Ken Waters (SSD) participated in the annual GOES Assessment Meeting during the first week of November. Representatives from the regions, NWS Headquarters, NESDIS and researchers from various labs use this gathering to focus on operational impacts of GOES imagery and other data. A summary of Ken's notes is included as a technical attachment this week.

GOES Products and Services Catalog.SSD distributed to each WFO a copy of the new GOES NESDIS publication. It describes many aspects of the GOES data, including the imager, sounder, and derived product imagery (DPI). Aside from providing a useful reference, satellite focal points will find it helpful for any satellite training activities at the office. On a related topic, SSD (Ken Waters) continues to work on acquiring the sounder and DPI imagery for AWIPS. As soon as all the bugs in the scripts and LDM mechanics are worked out, these data will be made available via the frame relay network, so offices can integrate the imagery into AWIPS.

AMS ANNUAL MEETING.A number of Southern Region representatives will participate in the American Meteorological Society 80th Annual Meeting in Long Beach next month. A tech attachment this month summarizes the SR papers and posters which will be part of the several conferences associated with the meeting.

LOCAL AMS MEETING FOCUSES ON USERS.The November monthly North Texas Chapter meeting of the American Meteorological Society was held at NWSFO Fort Worth. It featured a presentation by a representative of Texas Utilities who discussed operational impacts and uses of weather information by the utilities industry in north Texas. Twenty-five AMS members and guests were in attendance. The presentation was one in a series intended to provide participants with more information about how various users rely on and benefit from weather information. The October Chapter meeting featured a discussion on weather derivatives.

COMET PARTNERS PROJECTS.Two Southern Region COMET Partners Projects have concluded. In collaboration with NWSO Morristown, Dr. Thomas Mote at the University of Georgia have sorted out how lightning data may - and may not - be used to improve forecasts in the Southeast. A summary report of their project, "An Investigation of the Climatology, Associated Meteorology, and Patterns of Winter Season Cloud-to-Ground Lightning for the Southeast and Mississippi Valley Regions of the U.S.," may be found at http://www.comet.ucar.edu/outreach/9894689.htm.

Prof. Kevin Kloesel, formerly at Florida State University (Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology), now at the University of Oklahoma, completed a project entitled "Fluctuations in Squall Line Intensity and Coherence in the Vicinity of the Balcones Escarpment in Central Texas," with Nezette Rydell at NWSFO Austin/San Antonio. A summary of their work, and many other COMET Partners projects, can be found at http://www.comet.ucar.edu/outreach/parold.htm.

SHREVEPORT SEMINARS.On November 17 three NWSO Shreveport forecasters conducted seminars for the office staff. Glenn Carrin (senior forecaster) reviewed topics that were covered at the Senior Forecaster Workshop in Fort Worth earlier this year. Senior forecaster Bill Adams followed with a discussion of the office fire weather program, including how to handle special fire weather requests. Bill also demonstrated the new topographical software recently received at the office. Forecaster Mike Berry then presented a detailed case study of the April 3, 1999, tornado outbreak in northwest Louisiana, which consisted of four strong to violent tornadoes - including the Caddo/Bossier Parish (Benton) tornado that caused seven fatalities. Mike showed the synoptic and mesoscale aspects of the event, as well as the radar depiction of each of the four tornadoes.

WEB KUDOS.A popular feature of NWSO Jacksonville's Web site is the live display of imagery from their "beach cam." The camera was installed to provide the inland office with coastal wind and weather information. Sharing the imagery with Web users has been not only popular, but very helpful. Evidence the following extracts from a message to the NWSO from a satisfied customer.

I've really enjoyed your NWS Jacksonville webcam. It has also attracted me to the weather site and has been very helpful this year during the storm season. I'm a pilot by profession and the weather site has been my primary entry point for NWS info on the storms that have worked your coast this year. I used you as my source during a trip to Ft Lauderdale a couple of months ago to recover a broken aircraft before the hurricane that was threatening the coast could get there...thank you for your fine site. I wish my home area in Southern California had a similar site. Thanks again for the excellent and valuable work.

FSL INTERACTION. At the request of NOAA's Forecast Systems Lab in Boulder, Colorado, NWSO Amarillo forecaster Scott Plischke participated in a two-week evaluation of FSL's D3D software. Forecasters will be familiar with AWIPS' D2D. As the name implies, Display Three-Dimensional, or D3D, allows users to view model output and real-time meteorological data in a 3-D interactive display. It is part of the WFO-Advanced system development aimed at providing an advanced workstation to operational forecasters. Scott was the representative from our region who took part in this opportunity to provide FSL with feedback from a forecaster's perspective. Scott shared a summary of his experience which we have included as a tech attachment this month.

SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION BRANCH

YEAR 2000 ALMOST HERE. The month of December will be used to review the Southern Region Business Continuity Contingency Plan (BCCP) and the reporting procedures required of those that will be on duty as the clock strikes twelve several times throughout the region on New Year's Eve. The National Weather Service has been very pro-active in preparations for Y2K and no major difficulties are anticipated. Nevertheless, there are certain things that are being done just in case.

NOAA WEATHER RADIO. The testing and evaluation of the new NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) site in Clarksville, Tennessee has begun. This new site is a cooperative effort between local emergency management officials, private industry and the National Weather Service. This site will be equipped with a Crown Transmitter and will be programed from our Nashville office. The 30-day trail period will end around December 20, if all goes well. Our Regional Maintenance Specialist (RMS) Barry Brodnax will be monitoring the site through the ROAMS unit he installed, he will also be evaluating the coverage pattern for the transmitter for use by WFO Nashville.

The relocation of the Jacksonville NWR site was completed on the 12th of November. The transmitter was relocated onto the Lodestar Tower about 3 miles south of the previous location. The antenna center point is at 445 feet on the tower. The transmitter now has emergency power, and coverage pattern extends further southwest through northeast. To the south the coverage is approximately the same.

The Wauka mountain site in Georgia, is also in the 30-day evaluation period. At the beginning of the test, interference problems were encountered with a paging company, Sheriffs Department of White County, and the Police Department of Cleveland, Georgia. None of the interfering frequencies were located at the site of the NWR transmitter. The problems appear to have disappeared and acceptance of the system from Crown into full operations should occur during the first week of December. This is a dual 300-watt transmitter which operates on a frequency of 162.525 MHz and will be programed from the WFO Atlanta.

OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH

HURRICANE LENNY IMPACTS PUERTO RICO AND THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. Category 4 hurricane Lenny skirted just south of Puerto Rico and came perilously close to St. Croix, USVI. The FAA WSR-88D located in Cayey, Puerto Rico and used by WFO San Juan performed very well throughout the event.

ASSUMPTION OF BACKUP DUTIES AND WSR-88D DIAL BACKUP. MSD has just completed a major revision and rework of the SRH policies concerning WFO service backup responsibilities. Each WFO should use this as an opportunity to review their WSR-88D dial access capabilities. Do you have authorized dial access to all DOD and/or NWS WSR-88D Radars that have coverage with regard to the CWAs that you are expected to backup?

If you feel there are any WSR-88Ds that your office needs access to and aren't currently configured as such, please let the SRH NEXRAD Program Manager know via e-mail. We will coordinate with the OSF Hotline to ensure that each WFO has adequate WSR-88D dial backup coverage.

UNIT CONTROL POSITION TRANSFER FROM DOD TO NWS. Early in the year 2000, the Department of Defense (DOD) will formally relinquish to the NWS the control of the WSR-88D Unit Control Position for 12 additional DOD sponsored WSR-88D sites. SRH has already identified and coordinated with the DOD and the appropriate WFOs as to which WFO will assume UCP functionality for which DOD WSR-88D.

WFO Norman assumed control of the Altus AFB (KFDX) UCP about one year ago as the demonstration site. Control of the Moody, Georgia AFB (KVAX) UCP to WFO Jacksonville is expected to take place this week. This week, the kitproofing or demonstration of the OSF Modification Note required to accomplish this feat is also taking place at WFO Jacksonville.

Based on the assumption that no major snags are encountered, the remaining 12 DOD WSR-88D UCPs in SRH will be transferred over to the NWS in the first quarter of 2000.

WSR-88D DATA APPLICATIONS. Efforts are underway for the implementation of a new proposed Z-R relationship for cool season stratiform precipitation. Members of the OSF Applications Branch met with Common Operations and Development Environment (CODE) software developers at the NSSL to continue discussions of requirements and a process plan. A final release is expected during the summer of 2000. CODE improvements when integrated into AWIPS and/or the Next Generation Warning Decision Support System (NG-WDSS) will allow for more mature and robust WSR-88D algorithms, looping, data ingest, etc. for both systems.

NEXRAD INFORMATION DISSEMINATION SERVICE (NIDS) UPDATE. The NWS has obtained an extension to the existing contract through September 30, 2000. There is a provision in the contract to extend this in 90-day increments if the system for central collection of radar data is not in place.

Current NIDS replacement plans call for the central collection of radar data in the NWS Telecommunications Gateway (NWSTG) facility operated on a 24-hour, seven-day a week basis by June 2000. The data will not be made available to external users until September 2000. This initial capability will include the current NIDS products and archive Level III products. The inclusion of Level II products onto this central collection point is currently under review.

NEXRAD Y2K UPDATE. Y2K documentation kits have been deployed at all sites. The OSF has collected and analyzed data and test results from the WSR-88D user testing. No Y2K anomalies were observed or reported. The full report of this testing can be found on the OSF Y2K Web page.

NEXRAD OPEN SYSTEMS. Open RPGs (ORPGs) have been installed at the NWS Training Center and the National Reconditioning Center (NRC) and the OSF Test Bed. Troubleshooting continues on problems that have surfaced with the Simpact Firmware. The problem is that service is not restored after a wideband disconnect. The Graphical User Interface (GUI) Review Team has assessed the GUI to be used for the ORPG and recommended GUI improvements, identified some Build 10 omissions, and provided some necessary clarification. The GUI will replace the existing NEXRAD puck. It is expected that some field personnel will be brought in by the OSF for operations testing.

WEATHER AND RADAR PROCESSOR (WARP). During Stage 1 WARP deployment at Seattle ARTCC, on occasions, a bull's-eye ring would show up on the screen during maintenance procedures. The bull's-eye would last as long as six minutes on the controller's screen, which was unacceptable. The OSF will coordinate with the FAA to address this issue.

ASOS SOFTWARE VERSION 2.6 INSTALLATION UNDERWAY. The most recent ASOS software upgrade (Version 2.6) is now available for installation at unstaffed Service Level D locations and non-commissioned ASOS sites. So far, SRH ETs have completed this installation at 58 sites across the region. If any WFOs have not yet received the NWSH issued EPROMS required for this, they should contact SRH SOD immediately.

ASOS TELECOMMUNICATIONS CIRCUITS. In a lengthy, tedious, ongoing process that began almost two years ago, the NWS has now transferred over to an FAA contractor the administrative control and oversight of all ASOS circuits at FAA sponsored ASOS sites. We are still attempting to secure from the FAA a single POC for notification and troubleshooting in the event of a communications disconnect or termination.

ASOS COMMISSIONINGS. ASOS commissionings continue to decline due to the fact that the current FAA moratorium prohibiting the commissioning of an ASOS at a Service Level D site with an existing FAA Contract Weather Observer in place continues in effect.

In November, the only ASOS commissioning in Southern Region took place at Bartlesville, Oklahoma (BVO). This marks the eighth and final ASOS commissioned in the NWSFO Tulsa CWA. Kudos to the entire Tulsa staff for all their support of the ASOS program.

ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION

DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES

SPECTRUM AWARD. Congratulations to Bill Parker, forecaster at NWSO Shreveport, one of this year's winners of the NOAA Diversity Spectrum Achievement Award. This award is given to those managers or employees who have made significant, substantive, ascertainable contributions to managing diversity in NOAA. Bill is truly deserving of this award as he performs far beyond the spectrum of his job duties to promote the goals of diversity. Following are just a few of the areas in which Bill has taken an active role in promoting diversity. He initiated a partnership with the local school systems to increase interest in the field of meteorology and science; established a weather station at one of the local schools; participated at the Southern University Career Day for the last several years, encouraging students at this minority college to apply for positions in government fields, and exposing many to new career opportunities in NOAA, as well as other government agencies. He recruited minority high school students to work during the summer through the Junior Training Partnership Act, and cosponsored a scholarship for Jackson State University in the sciences. Bill also mentors students as they make choices for classes and colleges. As the EEO focal point at the Shreveport office, Bill participates in and promotes group discussions on diversity; he is open to new ideas from other staff members and is a positive role model.

JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY VISITATION. On November 20, Bill Parker, forecaster at NWSO Shreveport, Paul Trotter, MIC, and Fred Zeigler, forecaster, both of the NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge office made a visit to Jackson State University. The focus of this visit was to give some insight to the students about NWS careers. Paul gave the students a chronology of his career with the NWS, with insight on pre-modernization and post-modernization efforts of the NWS. His talk was well received by the students and many were thankful for the inspiration he gave them to work hard and have fun achieving their career goals.

Fred Zeigler discussed his NWSFO's historical study on the Mississippi River. He informed the students about the hydrology program, as several students had little to no knowledge about this area of the NWS. He discussed operations of the RFCs and local office service hydrologists, and informed the students of career opportunities in this field.

Bill Parker wrapped up the session by discussing "The Application Process" in getting hired by the NWS. He provided the URL for NOAA vacancy announcements, some information on the rating process, and general hints that may help enhance their applications. He ended the talk by giving interviewing tips, discussing government meteorologist salaries, and the SCEP and STEP programs.

Finally, this is the 25th anniversary year of the JSU Meteorology Program, a program in which the NWS played a role in starting. The faculty asked for assistance in helping plan a celebration to commemorate this milestone. In the coming months, Bill, Paul, and Fred will stay in contact with the university to help plan this event.

NWSO SHREVEPORT. Mary Keiser, intern, and Bill Parker, forecaster, visited Youree Middle School of Shreveport for their Career Day. They discussed with the students the role of the National Weather Service--how NWS serves the general public and the media; what is involved in getting a degree in meteorology; and working for the NWS. MIC Lee Harrison discussed how to prepare a school safety plan with the principal of North Desoto Middle School.

NWSFO FORT WORTH. WCM Jim Stefkovich just completed four one-hour weekly meteorology talks as part of a Tarrant County elementary school "University Hour." These talks were for 17 first to fifth grade students (1/3 minority) on various weather subjects.

NWSO TALLAHASSEE. During November, Tallahassee remained busy with various EEO/Outreach activities. Many schools schedule their career days and science fairs during this month. Senior forecaster Ron Block judged various exhibits at the Tallahassee area middle school science fair. He also lectured on careers in meteorology and distributed copies of a meteorology career primer that he developed at both Raa and Nimms Middle Schools' Career Days (35% and 80% minority, respectively). Ron, MIC Paul Duval, and forecaster Jeff Fournier offered several office tours and discussions on careers in meteorology to 39 Nimms students. Ron also hosted the Smith-Williams Senior Center (27 adults-100% minority-60% female) where he lectured on the role of the weather service emphasizing non-routine weather and its special impacts on senior citizens and the disabled.

NWSFO TULSA. MIC Lans Rothfusz presented four one-hour sessions on the science of weather to eighth graders at Edison Junior/Senior High in Tulsa on November 8. The classes are taught by Katy Shannon, a teacher participating in the AMS DataStreme program with the Tulsa office staff. Mrs. Shannon's students are being encouraged to participate in a science fair with a focus on changes seen on the planet. Lans demonstrated different scales at which the atmosphere changes, from climatic scale to storm scale, and brain-stormed with the students on ideas for potential science fair projects. There were some interesting ideas and a lot of enthusiasm.

SOUTHERN REGION WORKFORCE TRANSACTIONS

NOVEMBER 1 - 30, 1999

Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
Barrett Schramm NWSO CRP Resignation Met Intern, GS-7
Scott Wiley NWSFO LUB Reas to WR Forecaster, GS-12
Trudy Jones NWSFO LZK Reas to ER El Tech, GS-11
James Wallmann NWSFO ABQ Prom to WR Met Intern, GS-7
Jonathan Carney NWSFO JAN Reas to CR Met Intern, GS-7

Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Patrick Vesper NWSO MAF Reassignment Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Michael Castillo NWSO BRO New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
David Gregoria NWSFO JAN New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Amanda Roberts RFC SIL New Hire Hydrologist, GS-9
David Welch RFC SIL New Hire Hydrologist, GS-9
Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Richard J. Davis, Jr. NWSO TBW Prom from MOB Forecaster, GS-12

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