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Fort Worth, Texas

February 2001



I am pleased to announce that Armando Garza has been selected to be the Meteorologist-in-Charge of the newly expanded NWS Instruction and Certification Unit at the FAA Academy in Oklahoma City. Armando has been the MIC of WFO San Diego for the past five years. His experience prior to that involves a broad spectrum of duties at seven other offices, including work as a SOO (Honolulu), WSEO (New Orleans), CWSU meteorologist (Houston), satellite focal point (San Juan), WCM (Memphis), and forestry focal point (Albuquerque). Armando also served as the Regional Aviation Meteorologist at SRH.

I want to thank John Jarboe for the leadership he has exhibited at the FAA Academy which will be most valuable in assisting Armando with the transition. I also want to convey my appreciation to the entire NWS staff at the Academy for their hard work in inspiring this expansion and for the development and the teaching of the weather courses to FAA personnel from across the nation.

SOUTHERN REGION BLAST PROGRAM UNDERWAY. We have established a program called BLAST (Building Leaders for A Solid Tomorrow) with a vital objective of providing designed developmental opportunity for potential Southern Region leaders. This program is formulated around the interest of Southern Region employees on improving their leadership talents. This program will be built around two independent components-one involving local office efforts (which already exists in a few offices) and another more developed primary ingredient involving leadership training from the regional office.

The local office component of BLAST will provide a mechanism whereby any staff member with leadership interest and talent will have the opportunity to explore and expand those capabilities for the good of the NWS. With guidelines from the regional office, all offices (or regional division) leader will be required to establish a Local BLAST Program by April 18, 2001. If you are interested in participating in the BLAST program at your local office, you should contact your office supervisor.

The regional component of the program, called SR BLAST, will provide a formal training, and coaching program that will allow participants to develop pro-active as well as sensitivity leadership skills. Any GS-12, 13, or 14 non-supervisory meteorologists and hydrologists are eligible for consideration. SR BLAST will provide the participants with the foundation and tools to further enhance their leadership capabilities. SR BLAST is but beginning point for additional reading, study, and learning on progressive leadership concepts. Current supervisors are not eligible for SR BLAST, and participation in SR BLAST does not in any way provide participants priority consideration in future recruitment actions. A formal application package is required for SR BLAST, with application instructions contained on the Southern Region web site. Because of the vital resources each and every one in Southern Region plays in the delivery and support to our mission, the program is designed to minimize the amount of official work time away from our assigned offices.

The third component of BLAST is the Southern Region Leadership Library. We have invested in numerous books, video tapes, and audio tapes on the subject of leadership. A list of these materials is on the Southern Region web site. Any (not just BLAST selectees) Southern Region employee can check out a book or tape from the library through his/her office supervisor.

Our people are the future of the NWS. By improving leadership skills NWS-wide, we can really help meet the many future challenges. This is Southern Region's approach to Building Leaders for A Solid Tomorrow, BLAST.

My compliments to Gary Grice for the leadership role he has played in directing the development of this project.



IFPS SUPPORT. Training for IFPS has begun at the NWS Training Center, and within the next few months two individuals from each WFO will have completed an 8-day "focal point" course. All MICs will also have attended a 2-day managers course for familiarization. Matt Strahan (CWWD) is the regional focal point for IFPS issues.

IFPS is just one of several AWIPS applications which will shape future operations. To guide and assist all offices through implementation of IFPS, WWA, GFE and other software, and the integration of those into operational products and services, we have established a Modernization of Products and Software (MOPS) team. Team members are Melinda Bailey and Matt Strahan (CWWD), WFO forecasters Chris Sohl (Norman), Lyle Wilson (Morristown), Jim Noel (Atlanta), Steve Nelson (Tulsa), and WCM George Mathews (Tulsa). The team will help establish and implement formats for modernization products, both graphical and text. Offices are encouraged to contact team members or send questions or comments to Melinda Bailey in CWWD. Responses will be provided as soon as possible.

WWA. Speaking of implementing programs, do you need help configuring WWA? The MOPS team will be providing instructions online soon. In the meantime, check the WWA Web site to see who already has WWA implemented. Contact names and offices are listed at

MORE VERIFICATION DATA AVAILABLE ON THE WEB. On January 17, enhanced verification statistics became available for public and aviation forecast elements on the NWS Verification Web site. The interactive database includes public statistics for January 1986 through September 2000. Additional data covering the period 1966 through 1985 will be made available by March 15. Aviation data are currently available from October 1997 through September 2000.

The "Stats on Demand" program allows for data to be customized and displayed by month, by office, etc. The data on the page will be updated every three months. In the near future, the Web site will be updated monthly to provide the latest information possible. The site can be accessed at, and passwords have been provided to all offices.

2001 HOUSTON BOAT SHOW. The 2001 Houston International Boat Show was held at the Reliant Astrohall and Astroarena from January 5-14. WFO Houston/Galveston set up a booth among the other venders of boats, marine products and services. Over 145,000 people attended the 10-day event and this was a great opportunity for the Houston/Galveston staff to meet with the marine community. The WFO displayed banners with the NWS and NOAA logos, office name and Web address on them. The office found these easier to transport and set up/take down than some of the bulkier displays they used in the past. They will also be convenient to use for other public appearances and should last for many years. Cost for the banners were around $125 each (4' x 8') and are highly recommended for other offices that regularly attend such events.

Positive comments regarding the NWS marine forecasts were received from the majority of those who stopped by. Many users were happy the marine forecast has been expanded to a full 5 days of winds, seas and weather. Others were happy with the various means available to obtain weather information ranging from NOAA Weather Radio, phone recordings and the Internet.

3rd ANNUAL CARIBBEAN BOAT SHOW. WFO San Juan participated in the 3rd Annual Caribbean Boat Show at Puerto del Rey Marina and Resort in Ceiba from January 12-15. This is the largest such exhibition in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. This year the activity was attended by over 10,000 nautical enthusiasts, families and friends. Thanks to the assistance of some staff members the WFO booth was visited by 700 people, many of whom provided feedback on our operations and forecasts. They were attracted by the cloud and the Beaufort sea state charts on display. They expressed their appreciation for the job the NWS does informing the public during the hurricane season and year around. The boat show was an outstanding opportunity to interchange ideas and share concerns with members of the marine community.

WSH MARINE MEETING. A marine meeting comprising all regional marine program managers and one marine focal point from each region was held last month in Baltimore to discuss the new WSOM marine chapter, D-07. Melinda Bailey (CWWD) and John Metz (WFO Corpus Christi) attended the meeting for Southern Region. The format of the coastal waters forecast was a big topic and it was decided to adopt the look of Southern Region's. Our expansion of the marine forecast out to 5 days before any other region was a factor in that. Congratulations. Another draft of the marine chapter should be ready for review by March.

GIVE US YOUR TIRED, YOUR POOR, ..., YOUR USED TEXTBOOKS? Bridge to Asia, an organization which collects and distributes used and outdated textbooks, reference materials and journals to developing Third World countries in Southeast Asia and China, is in need of surplus meteorology books. The organization can also use other books, such as dictionaries, encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases, glossaries, thesauruses, etc. The shipping address to send the books is: Bridge to Asia, Foreign Trade Services, Pier 23, San Francisco CA 94111. Their telephone number is: 415-678-2990. Fax is: 415-678-2996. E-mail address is: Website is: This is a good way to free up library space in your office and home, plus it provides a beneficial service to universities, teachers and students in China and Southeast Asia. Government property in the form of outdated reference books may be considered expendable property and disposed of in this manner.

NOAA WEATHER RADIO NEWS. Georgia NWR expansion is continuing and nearing completion. Phone circuit problems at the NWR site at Eastman, Georgia were corrected and the site was accepted on January 15. A new NWR transmitter was in the process of being installed at Eatonton, Georgia at the end of January. This new site will provide improved coverage to areas in and near Macon, Georgia. Other new NWR sites in Southern Region nearing completion include the Borger/Hutchinson, Texas site in the Amarillo, county warning area, Mount Ida, Arkansas in the WFO Little Rock CWA, and the Gonzales, Texas site in the WFO Austin/San Antonio CWA.

On January 11 and 12, SRH NWR representatives Tim Troutman and T.L. Farrow met with John Fleming from Florida Division of Emergency Management and Brevard County Emergency Management in Melbourne. The meeting was held to discuss replacing the current Melbourne NWR transmitter with a new 1000-watt transmitter and moving it to a better location just north of Melbourne. As part of the Florida NWR expansion, Florida DEM will also be purchasing a new 1000-watt NWR transmitter to replace the current 100-watt transmitter at Sebring, Florida this summer.

SRH NWR program leader Tim Troutman and regional WCM Larry Vannozzi recently completed a cooperative project with Florida Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH). The project involved the development of NWR informational cards for distribution to the public. Initially, over 5,000 NWR FLASH cards will be sent to Florida WFOs and to Florida DEM for public distribution. This effort was coordinated with Florida's Hazardous Weather Awareness week in February.

CRS NEWS. A CRS helpful hints paper was recently completed by Paul Howerton, at WFO Wichita, Kansas. The paper is online at:, and it is recommended as an excellent reference for all WFOs. As a reminder to all WFOs, CAFÉ formatter implementation is set for May 1 throughout Southern Region. The CAFÉ resource home page is at:
and the CRS help desk is at:


Spotter Classes Spinning up. The calendar still says 'winter' but the Southern Region has the most active weather in the U.S. so spotter training is well underway. Dozens of classes have been completed and hundreds more are planned across the region over the next few months. Planning and executing this training can be very time-consuming and grueling, yet also extremely worthwhile in building an effective warning process and ensuring that we meet our mission. Last year, Southern Region WFO teamwork provided training to over 21,000 spotters.

Severe Weather Seminar. WFO Fort Worth/Dallas teamed with the Tarrant County Emergency Management Agency, Tarrant County RACES, and KXAS-TV to conduct a spotter training/severe weather seminar. Approximately 1,150 people attended the session, which was hosted by North Richland Hills Emergency Management and Richland High School. WCM Gary Woodall began with a review of the March 28 tornadoes in Fort Worth and Arlington. The KXAS weather team followed up with a look at the media coverage of the event. Gary then gave a basic storm spotter training session, and senior forecaster Al Moller concluded the session with a discussion of advanced thunderstorm concepts and research findings.

SKYWARN Newsletter Hits Another Milestone. WFO Tampa, spearheaded by WCM Walt Zaleski, meterologist Barry Goldsmith, and HMT Steve Fatjo, developed and bulk-mailed nearly 1,700 of the latest edition of the "Skywarn Spotter Newsletter" to local spotters, media, emergency management, and congressional staff. Walt reports the local bulk-mailing can be credited in saving nearly $600 dollars in mail costs to the NWS.

WFO Midland Outreach. Senior forecaster Perry Martin and WCM Pat Vesper visited the Chamber of Commerce and the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce offices in Midland and Odessa, Texas. Pat and Perry advertised the outstanding Spanish Web page which Perry recently developed, promoted NWS internet resources, and expressed WFO Midland's interest in community outreach activities.

These outreach activities resulted in the Midland Chamber of Commerce adding a link to the Midland NWS home page to their Web site, the scheduling of WFO Midland to set up a safety booth at the MexTex Cookoff, and the plan for Perry to provide weather safety and spotter talks in Spanish to support the Hispanic community. Also, the Odessa Chamber of Commerce was interested in having an NWS presentation to business leaders from Odessa at an upcoming "Networking Breakfast" meeting.

Perry teamed with Robert Boyd (another senior forecaster at WFO Midland) to make recent improvements to the English version of the WFO Midland Web page. These changes made the site more user-friendly and moved the home page closer to the end-goal of establishing a one-stop shopping site for NWS customers.

WFO Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian was interviewed by the WZDT-TV 17 (FOX) weekend weather reporter regarding the spring severe weather outlook for middle Tennessee. Jerry took the opportunity to review tornado safety tips for the home, car, and mobile homes. He also demonstrated NOAA Weather Radio and the life-saving alert tone. Forecaster Bobby Boyd looped an archived radar image of the April 1998 Nashville tornado on the PUP to demonstrate the storm's "hook echo" and V-notch feature.

HAM Weather Stations. On January 25, senior service hydrologist Joel Lanier at WFO Tallahassee gave a television interview to KTXL-TV (ABC) about our Automatic Position Reporting System (APRS) project to relay Amateur Radio (HAM) weather data to the forecast office. Joel and TJ Turnage, Skywarn focal point have been coordinating with Tallahassee Amateur Radio Society (TARS) to set up this weather data collection network. The WFO and TARS are soliciting volunteers from the area. Long range goals include expanding the network across southeast Alabama, southern Georgia and northern Florida with HAM weather stations. For further information on this project, check out the URL:


Mingling with the Florida EMs. Representatives from Florida WFOs networked, coordinated, and brain stormed with some of the 600 emergency management personnel at this year's annual Florida Emergency Management Preparedness Association Conference in Panama City. StormReady, hurricane coordination, and laser terrain mapping for SLOSH model improvement were just a few of the topics discussed. NWS attendance was well received and was effective in forging partnerships and enhancing ongoing intra-government relationships.

Texas Collaboration. WFO Austin/San Antonio WCM Larry Eblen wrote an article about StormReady for an upcoming issue of Texas Division of Emergency Management Digest. He also collaborated with the Texas DEM on an article about flooding and flood deaths. Both articles are available online at:


WFO El Paso hosted an open house in January for the local media. Most of the television stations in the area were represented and two did live weathercasts from the WFO. General managers, news directors, and producers were targeted invitees, as were the local weathercasters. This meeting was a great way to solidify the NWS partnership with the media and familiarize the media with NWS operations and services. The meeting went so well that all parties agreed to make this an annual event.

Briefing for Congressman. WFO Jackson MIC Jim Stefkovich and SOO Alan Gerard met with U.S. Congressman Chip Pickering in January to discuss radar operations, AWIPS and NWS operations. They reported the meeting went very well and that Congressman Pickering was pleased with the service provided by WFO Jackson.

WFO Austin/San Antonio WCM Larry Eblen prepared an extensive hurricane drill for the Austin Chapter of the American Red Cross. The drill involved a mid-coastal arrival of an August Category 3 hurricane, and it included 79 products from the WFO and NHC covering tornadoes, flash floods, floods, and even multiple dam breaks (gee, sure glad that was only a drill!).

WFO Tampa Hosts Local AMS Meeting. WFO Tampa hosted a meeting of the local American Meteorological Society of West Central Florida. Over 40 participants, including local television weathercasters, retired NWS and AWS personnel, Skywarn spotters and other professional meteorologists attended. The meeting was highlighted by a special technical presentation by SOO Charlie Paxton. Charlie's informative presentation on Florida tornado climatology entertained the weather enthusiasts who were quite impressed with the meteorological explanations provided by Charlie regarding the technical whys and why-nots of Florida's tornadoes.

WEB KUDOS. WFO Corpus Christi recently received this nice note from a satisfied Web site user:

Your new Web site is looking good. Sometimes I wonder if you are really a government employee. You do a great job. The idea that someone in an orginization as large as NOAA would actually listen and respond to us regular folks is great.

Please keep up the good work.

There's not much we can add to that! Congratulations to MIC Ken Graham and the WFO staff.

AMS Meeting Held at Memphis ARTCC. CWSU Memphis hosted the Memphis AMS chapter January meeting. MIC Tom Amis made a slide presentation describing duties and responsibilities of CWSU meteorologists in support of air traffic operations at the ARTCC. He reviewed air traffic delays over the past few years and the impact of weather on operations across the U.S., and described CWSU products, including the Center Weather Advisories and Meteorological Impact Statement. Also discussed were the CWSUs' contributions to the Collaborative Convective Forecast Product (CCFP) and how the product was used to aid in planning air traffic routes to avoid thunderstorms last year. The presentation ended with a brief description of the current tools available to the CWSU meteorologists to prepare their forecasts and advisories. The evening ended with a tour of the CWSU operations area by CWSU meteorologists Warren Rodie and Larry Boatman, followed by a tour of the ARTCC Traffic Management Unit.


RFC FLOOD FORECAST VERIFICATION TEAM MEETING. On January 10, a meeting was held at the Arkansas-Red Basin RFC (ABRFC) in Tulsa with the Southern Region RFC categorical flood forecast verification team members. The meeting was very productive and provided the team members an opportunity to provide feedback on the verification method, and graphics and metrics generated by the verification software. The meeting generated 18 action items on subjects such as software changes, presenting an overview of the Southern Region RFC categorical flood forecast verification meeting to SRH, developing a technical report about the verification scheme, implementing the ABRFC archive database structure at all SR RFCs, and ensuring they receive flood category levels and action stage and record crest stage information from the WFOs.

FLOOD WARNING VERIFICATION TEST AND EVALUATION SITES. Seven Southern Region WFOs will participate in a test and evaluation of a WFO flood warning verification program which was developed in the Central Region. The offices include WFOs Austin/San Antonio, Houston, Shreveport, Jackson, Amarillo, Nashville, and Memphis. Our goals are to evaluate this application for possible implementation in SR and to provide feedback to Central Region and NWS Headquarters which can be used to develop an automated national WFO flood warning verification program.

RADAR CLIMATOLOGY PROJECT. Florida State University (Prof. Henry Fuelberg), WFO Tallahassee (Irv Watson, SOO and Joel Lanier, senior service hydrologist), the SERFC (Judi Bradberry, senior HAS) and the NWSH Office of Hydrology (Jay Breidenbach), are participating in a collaborative project to develop an historical precipitation database containing gridded quantitative precipitation estimates. The project is funded by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. With the help of hardware and software from the SERFC, the Office of Hydrology and the FDEP, Dr. Fuelberg just completed radar climatologies for 28 WSR-88Ds across the southeastern United States. These radar climatologies will eventually be used to complete a post-analysis of 5 to 8 years worth of gauge/radar adjusted data using RFC-Wide across southern Georgia, southeast Alabama, and all of Florida. The FDEP will use the quantitative precipitation estimates generated from RFC-Wide in their surface and ground water pollution modeling efforts. Other agencies such as the St. Johns Water Management District, the Suwannee River Water Management District, the Southwest Florida Water Management District, and the USGS have shown interest in this project.

This year, Dr. Fuelberg and his students will continue their contract effort with FDEP by implementing RFC-Wide software on a local workstation and developing quality control processes for both the radar and gauge data, with the goal of completing a demonstration historical precipitation database over the lower and middle St. Johns River basin. Thereafter, the effort will spin up to complete the remainder of Florida. Latest information on this project is at:

SR HYDRO SERVICES STRATEGIC PLANNING TEAM. We have put together a team of Southern Region meteorologists and hydrologists to help us identify and prioritize a list of hydrologic product and service improvements which should be implemented in SR during the next five years. The team members are:

Dave Reed HIC, LMRFC, team leader
Rusty Pfost MIC, WFO Miami
Brad Gimmestad DOH , SERFC
Cyndie Abelman senior HAS forecaster, WGRFC
John Schmidt senior hydrologic forecaster, ABRFC
Steve Bays service hydrologist, WFO Little Rock
Joel Lanier senior service hydrologist, WFO Tallahassee
Brian Peters WCM, WFO Birmingham

The team will conduct one meeting at SRH and will coordinate via email and conference call to complete their tasks. Their goal is to deliver a list of service improvements and their associated implementation priorities by the coming summer. This information will be used as input to our regional strategic planning documents and annual operating plans. Thanks to everyone on the team for their willingness to participate in this very important activity.



Outreach Activities. Senior HAS forecaster Cyndie Abelman and hydrologic forecaster Billy Finn visited WFOs Brownsville, Corpus Christi, and Austin/San Antonio during January. They made presentations on RFC and HAS operations. Nice work, Cyndie and Bill.

New Staff. Three hydrologic forecasters joined the WGRFC hydrometeorological forecast team during the last few months. Greg Waller, previously the hydrology focal point at WFO San Angelo, reported for duty at WGRFC in early December. Greg is now a hydrologic forecaster and graduated from Texas A&M University. Alana McCants reported for duty on January 26. Alana previously worked at WFO Jackson as a SCEP student. She received her M.S. degree from Jackson State University. Jason Johnson reports for duty this month. Jason is a graduate of the Tarleton State University's hydrology program. Congratulations, Greg, Alana, and Jason, on your new jobs


Although several Southern Region HSAs recorded near or above normal precipitation during December, only minor flooding was observed around the region.

The Shreveport HSA reported December precipitation totals averaging 5 to 10 inches across the area. This sent several rivers above flood stage with the most serious flooding closing a couple of highways in northeast Texas for a 48-hour period. On the other end of the hydrologic spectrum, the drought in West Texas has taken a toll on reservoir storage in the San Angelo HSA. Two reservoirs were at less than 10 percent capacity at the end of December.

FSL PROJECT. One of the prototype FSL projects being examined by the Southern Region is called FX Connect. The FX Connect software is a briefing tool which allows several parties to interact with each other over the Internet. The Southeast RFC will test the software and likely partner with FEMA Region IV to provide hydrologic briefings during the upcoming tropical season.


UNIVERSITY ASSIGNMENT PROGRAM. This is a reminder that applications for the UAP, covering academic work during the coming fall (August or September) through spring 2002 terms, are due at SRH by February 23. Applications should be sent to SSD. Full information concerning the UAP was attached to the last (January) issue of Topics.

ACCESS TO JOURNALS ONLINE. The American Meteorological Society (AMS) Journals Online Web site provides access for anyone to search the journals and/or view the abstract of any article. To view the complete text, however, or print a copy of an article in journals other than the AMS Bulletin, you must be a subscriber to the online journal(s). Beginning this year, in lieu of purchasing printed copies of Monthly Weather Review and Weather and Forecasting for all offices, NWS Headquarters - with concurrence from the regions - opted to purchase subscriptions to the on-line versions of the journals only. This includes MWR (1997-present), W&F (1997-present), and also the new Journal of Hydrometeorology (2000-present). To acquire copies of articles from journals not included in these subscriptions, or from older issues of W&F or MWR, contact the NOAA Central Library ( or SSD. AMS journal subscriptions are funded as part of the NWS training program. The majority of our offices indicated they preferred on-line access and were running out of storage space for the journals. Of course, any office which desires to continue subscriptions to printed copies in addition to the on-line access may still do so.

The focal point at NWSH for the on-line subscriptions is Mike Dion in the Training Division of the Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services. Field offices with domain names (WFOs and RFCs) should supply Mike with the IP addresses of those machines for which access to the full-text articles is desired. Mike can also provide user IDs and passwords to offices such as the CWSUs and the SMG which do not have domains.

Access to the National Weather Association's Electronic Journal of Operational Meteorology ( is unrestricted.

BROWNSVILLE CALLS IT RIGHT. Freezes are not very common at Brownsville in deep South Texas, which makes forecasting the rare outbreaks associated with them all the harder. The last freeze was at the end of December in 1997. However, climatological studies by MIC Richard Hagan and WCM Hector Guerrero revealed that the city had freezing temperatures between every El Niño event except one during the past 50 years, and that chances for freezing temperatures were even higher in ENSO neutral years. Based on that, Hagan went on record in mid-November in predicting at least one freeze this winter, in spite of implications from CPC's outlook for a warmer than normal winter season. Sure enough, temperatures dipped below 32 in the Valley on December 13, then hit 32 at Brownsville on January 4. Good call, Richard!

CHANGE TO MESO-ETA AND RUC SST ANALYSIS. The sea-surface temperature (SST) analysis used by the Meso Eta and RUC models was changed with the 1200 UTC cycles on 30 and 31 January 2001, respectively. The NESDIS SST analysis -- based on satellite retrievals -- was pulled from the models in mid-December due to problems during periods of significant, persistent cloud cover over the ocean. This was replaced by the Reynolds SST analysis which combined buoy observations and satellite data.

The new analysis is the Real Time Global SST (RTG_SST) which is performed on a 50 km grid and updated daily. Like the Reynolds analysis, the RTG_SST combines in-situ observational data and hi-resolution (4 km) satellite retrievals, but the RTG_SST analysis uses only the most recent 24 hours of data and employs a variable background-error covariance function to produce greater detail.

The RTG_SST has a much sharper depiction of the Gulf Stream than the other analyses and is the only one to properly depict the colder shelf water along the East and Gulf coasts. Development of the RTG_SST was accelerated after the incorrect depiction of the colder shelf water was found to play a significant role in the Eta model snowstorm forecast errors for the Washington/Baltimore areas on 29-30 December 2000.

Plots of SST difference fields between the RTG_SST and Reynolds analyses in the RUC for 29 January can be viewed at

NEW CASE STUDY LOOKS AT SST CHANGE. Following up on the item above, COMET has released a new training module titled, "When Good Models Go Bad: Eta, SSTs, and Prediction of the December 30, 2000 East Coast Snowstorm." The module is part of ongoing NWP PDS distance-learning efforts and presents a brief case study of the effect of SST analyses on the Eta model forecast of East Coast cyclogenesis and the subsequent snowstorm. This is the first in a planned series of short case studies demonstrating critical thinking in the use of NWP products based on an understanding of the characteristics and limitations of models and the NWP process. The case is on the MetEd home page at

In this case, the 1200 UTC operational Eta run on December 29 predicted explosive cyclogenesis and snow too far to the south and west early the following day. This resulted in some missed forecasts for the Baltimore-Washington area. An experimental run of the Eta (EtaX) starting from the same atmospheric conditions but using a new SST analysis greatly improved the forecast for storm development, track and snow location. A detailed review of the event resulted in a quick decision to implement the SST change. The case discusses the initial atmospheric and lower boundary conditions over the eastern U.S. and western Atlantic, and the effects of the model near-shore and Gulf Stream SSTs on the evolution of the surface winds, moisture and stability at and near the East Coast. Also discussed are lessons to be learned by forecasters from this case regarding effects of erroneous boundary conditions in an otherwise good NWP model.

ACCESSING TxDOT DATA. SSD (Ken Waters) is working with WFO Austin/San Antonio and other Texas offices to acquire and display AWOS data from Texas Department of Transportation/FAA sites around the state. Ken met with the Texas DOT aviation manager in Austin in January and found him to be enthusiastic about a collaborative effort to collect the data and make it more available to all potential users. TxDOT is responsible for some 20-30 dial-in weather sites in Texas, generally at small airports, but until now they have lacked the resources to acquire the data at a central location for more widespread use. Making the data available via Internet, for example, will greatly improve its utility. Initially, the plan is to use the SRH AWIPS/LDAD to collect data from the sites, then use our LDAD and LDM to automatically distribute the data back to WFOs who can post the data and products on the Web.

LIGHTNING RATIO. For your county warning area, what is the ratio of intracloud to cloud-to-ground lightning? An article in the January 2001 Monthly Weather Review sheds some light on that question. Dennis Boccippio at the Global Hydrology and Climate Center, NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and his co-authors provide graphics showing that climatologically, the IC to GC ratio varies across the Southern Region from values of 1 to 3 over the Southeast, New Mexico and central Texas, to twice that - 3 to 7 - over Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana. Something to keep in mind when using AWIPS lightning products provided by the NLDN, which measures only CG lightning. The paper is titled "Combined Satellite- and Surface-Based Estimation of the Intracloud-to Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Ratio over the Continental United States."

MARCH TELETRAINING FROM VISIT. The Integrated Sensor Training Professional Development Series (ISTPDS) and VISIT teletraining sessions for March are listed below. Offices can register for the sessions at:

- Using Near-Storm Environment Data in the Warning Decision Making Process (NEW) - Basic - Mar 27, 29
- Lightning Meteorology I - Intermediate - Mar 21, 23, 27, 29
- HPC Medium Range Forecasting - Intermediate - Mar 6, 20, 21, 29
- Application of Pattern Recognition to Medium Range Forecasting - Intermediate - Mar 1, 6, 22, 28
- Using AWIPS to Evaluate Model Initializations - Intermediate - Mar 13
- An Ingredients-Based Approach to Forecasting Winter Season Precipitation - Intermediate - Mar 1,7
- Using GOES Rapid Scan Operations (RSO) in AWIPS - Basic - Mar 15
- Enhanced-V: A Satellite Severe Storm Signature - Basic - Mar 16
- Diagnosing the Potential for Surface Boundaries to Initiate Convection - Intermediate - Mar 19, 30

The new session "Using Near-Storm Environment Data in the Warning Decision Making Process" illustrates the utility of integrating near-storm environment data sets in AWIPS such as RUC, LAPS, MSAS in the warning decision making process. Objectively analyzed fields of CAPE and CIN (for assessing storm updraft capabilities), equivalent potential temperature (for assessing areas of potential convective instability), and vertical wind shear parameters such as bulk shear and storm relative helicity (for modulating storm organization and development) are evaluated for a number of cases. In addition, LAPS and RUC grid point soundings are used to evaluate differences in the near-storm environment.

Sessions can be reviewed in advance by following the instructions in the student guides available on the ISTPDS/VISIT page: For technical information on what you need to run a session see the VISITview QuickStart page at:

READINGS FOR SPRINGTIME. Two recent journal articles will provide excellent reading in preparation for spring storms. They are:

"An Overview of Environmental Conditions and Forecast Implications of the 3 May 1999 Tornado Outbreak," by Richard Thompson and Roger Edwards (NCEP/Storm Prediction Center), which appears in the December 2000 issue of Weather and Forecasting.

"Severe Thunderstorms on 31 May 1996: A Satellite Meteorology Training Case," by J. Weaver, J. Dostalek, B. Motta and J.F.W. Purdom (NESDIS), in the December 1999 issue of National Weather Digest.

NEW COMET NUMERICAL WEATHER PREDICTION MODULES. The COMET Program has released of three Web-based modules: "Influence of Model Physics on NWP Forecasts," "Understanding Data Assimilation: How Models Create Their Initial Conditions" and the "Statistical Guidance" portion of "Intelligent Use of Model-Derived Products." These two modules complete the "Understanding NWP Models and Their Processes" unit of the Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) Professional Development Series (PDS).

The new modules may be accessed from the MetEd page ( They may also be reached from the "Operational Models Matrix" at by clicking either "Statistical Guidance" or "Assimilation Systems" in the column on the left.

The Model Physics module describes model parameterizations and emulations of sub-surface, boundary-layer,and free atmospheric processes, such as surface snow processes, soil characteristics, vegetation, evapotranspiration, PBL/turbulence processes, and trace gases, and their interaction with the radiative transfer process. It specifically addresses how models treat these physical processes and how they can influence NWP forecasts of sensible weather elements. The presentation time of this module is approximately 2 hours. Learner study time may be longer due to the detailed nature of the topic and material.

The Data Assimilation module explains the ever-increasing importance of data assimilation on the quality of numerical forecasts. The process by which data get into the analysis and the significant impact data assimilation has on model performance are addressed. Tips to assist interpretation of NWP products, considering the limitations of data assimilation, are also discussed. The presentation time of this module is approximately 3 to 4 hours.

The Statistical Guidance materials describe the statistical methods used to enhance raw model output, and how statistical guidance products (such as MOS, perfect prog., etc.) are generated from raw model output. An emphasis is placed on their operational applications, strengths, and limitations. The presentation time of this piece of the "Intelligent Use of Model-Derived Products" module is approximately 1-2 hours.

NETSCAPE 6.0 INCOMPATIBILITY WITH COMET MODULES. The COMET program office highly recommends field offices do not install Netscape 6.0 at this time. They have had problems getting it to install properly on COMET computer systems, and have found it to be incompatible with some of their Web modules. There have also been complaints logged on various Web sites about installation and security problems with this release.

NCEP BACKUP TEST. GSA and the Census Bureau plan to perform preventative maintenance on the electrical system in the Bowie Computer Center during the latter half of February. Even though the work is not expected to cause a disruption in NCEP Computer Operations, if problems do occur, there could be a lengthy outage of the IBM system. In order to ensure the NCEP backup operations at OOS will function properly in the event of an extended outage, a full test of backup operations was tentatively scheduled for 1215 UTC/0815 EST on February 6. During the four hour test period, the 1200 UTC Meso Eta and AVN products will be produced by the NCEP backup models running on the OOS system. Since we do not have a backup for the NGM model, the 1200 UTC NGM products will be produced on the IBM at the conclusion of the test. Details of the products available from the backup operational configuration during the outage can be found at:

NCDC COMPUTATION OF NEW CLIMATE AVERAGES UNDERWAY. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is computing the official 1971-2000 climate normals. The computational process includes adjusting the data for inhomogeneities. This will be especially important for first order stations as they transitioned during the 1990's from the (generally) warm(er) HO83 temperature sensor to the cooler ASOS temperature sensor and to the generally drier ASOS precipitation gauge.

GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS. Here are a few examples of areas SSD is exploring to integrate weather data into GIS systems.

ArcIMS. We have arranged to acquire an evaluation copy of ArcIMS for 90 days. It will be running from SRH and we expect several offices, especially RFCs, to test applications on it. Ken Waters is working on converting AWIPS data sets into shapefiles for use in some of these new applications. We hope to have the software and hardware set up within the next few weeks. In preparation for this Ken recently participated in an ESRI Introduction to ArcIMS course in San Antonio.

mySQL. We are experimenting with setting up mySQL on a Linux box to store both real-time and climate data. These data will then be accessed by ArcIMS for web display.

ArcView Avenue class. SSD is contracting with ESRI to conduct an ArcView Avenue class in New Orleans, including about a dozen students from WFOs and RFCs. There is strong interest in this language for use with ArcView 3.x, and it will continued to be supported by ESRI despite the fact plans are to drop Avenue in their new products.

Texas Federal Geographic Information Workgroup. SSD participates in quarterly meetings of this group and a few weeks ago Ken attended the Texas GIS Forum in Austin. We find these meetings very useful for interfacing with other GIS users at the federal, state, and local levels.

INTEGRATING WORKSTATION ETA OUTPUT INTO AWIPS. We are developing plans and procedures for ingesting local model output (notably from the workstation Eta model) into AWIPS. Work on this project is nearly done and will be published in a Tech Note so other offices can benefit.



TELECOMMUNICATIONS. The FTS2001 transition is steadily moving toward completion. Orders have been placed with MCI for all of the existing NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) dedicated circuits. We have been contacted by MCI to provide more information to process the orders, such as local exchange carrier (LEC) circuit numbers. This information is being gathered by the field offices and compiled at the region before it will be forwarded to MCI.

The orders for the regional WAN and frame relay network are being processed. Circuits have been installed at SRH and a number of field offices have reported completion of the hardware installations. Hub circuits were brought up at the end of January. After successful testing at SRH, we will bring up each field site which is ready for activation. After careful monitoring of the new circuits after transition we will accept the services from MCI as operational. We look forward to completing more service transitions shortly, and subsequently disconnecting AT&T FTS2000 services as required.

UPPER AIR. SRH participated in a conference at Kansas City, hosted by the National Reconditioning Center (NRC). The purpose of the conference was to determine how we will best support an aging yet vital upper air system for the next five to seven years, while the new replacement system is tested and deployed. During the meetings, key personnel from NRC and NWS headquarters listened to the problems regional program managers faced in supporting the field. Issues such as no confidence in the reliability of parts, the non-availability of parts, and the amount of data lost due to these issues were discussed. During a tour of the repair facilities several comments and suggestions were made on how to improve testing.

Data were presented showing how NRC has reached a point of saturation between manpower and time required to repair the parts, compounded by high failure rates on parts supplied by vendors. Several participants were asked to join in a presentation to NWSH managers (OSO3) at a time to be determined later. We feel that this will be an increasingly important issue as failures of these systems increase and even more adversely impact field operations.

AWIPS. Please join us in welcoming Paul Kirkwood to the SOD staff as the new Southern Region AWIPS program manager. Paul transferred from WFO Morristown, where he was a forecaster and the AWIPS focal point. He has recent experience with Build 5.0 installation and trouble-shooting and was one of the main reasons we used Morristown as a Beta site for AWIPS projects. Paul has just recently completed working with FSL on the installation of a D2D system running on a Linux platform, and we will be hearing more about this later on. Paul and his family will arrive in Fort Worth in mid-February.

AWIPS UPGRADE. All Southern Region sites have been scheduled for AWIPS build 5.0 installation. If the schedule does not slip, all offices should complete this upgrade by the middle of March. SRH has acquired the same system hardware which is used in support of the CWSU ARD project. This system, including the routers is being configured as hot backup for CWSU use. It will be sent out at the request of the CWSU MIC if that office is unable to obtain service on a weekend or over a holiday. We continue to work with FSL to bring D2D operations to a Linux system to relieve the resource drain on the current WFO HP workstations which support the CWSU. We will be testing this project in February.

NETSCAPE MAIL. Leon Minton, e-mail administrator, retired at the beginning of January after 32 years of service. Most of this time was spent at SRH providing direct support to field offices with computers, LAN, and most recently e-mail. We know everyone will wish him and his wife Kathy the best.

James Raley has temporarily assumed Leon's responsibility for email support. He immediately faced a perplexing problem related to message addressing. After many days of troubleshooting the problem was resolved, but its source is still a mystery.


DEL RIO ASBESTOS ABATEMENT. An asbestos abatement contractor pre-bid meeting was held in Del Rio, Texas prior to removal of asbestos-containing materials. This work is in advance of building renovation and is limited to several different types of vinyl floor tile in the former WSO. The building is still used for contract upper air operations and also contains the ASOS control unit for the local airport. Once bids are received from the abatement contractors, the work will be scheduled in two phases with a separate flooring contractor, so the UA and ASOS equipment will be inoperative for a minimum amount of time during their physical relocation into the building. The work should be completed this month.

SAFETY TRAINING FOR FACILITY ENGINEERING TECHNICIANS. In January, safety training was presented by the SR environmental and safety program manager, Terry Brisbin, to eight Southern Region facility engineering technicians (FETs). The training was based on the 32 chapters of EHB-15. While EHB-15 is still being reviewed in draft form, it is believed to be in its final version, with release expected this fiscal year. The FETs also received one day of tower inspection training from Clear Communications Group, and a course in personal security from an officer of the Federal Protective Service based at the Fort Worth Federal Center.

TRANSITION MAINTENANCE POWER SYSTEMS RETROFIT. Beginning in February, a major retrofit will take place at the WSR-88D RDA shelters. Radar Operations Center (ROC) personnel and contractors will replace the existing Roesel Motor Generator units with a static uninterruptible power source.

ASOS COMMISSIONINGS. During January, an additional three ASOSs were commissioned across the region. The sites included Cotulla and Alice, Texas, and Albany, Georgia. This means every ASOS site in the FAA Southwest Region is now commissioned, with the exception of DeQueen, Arkansas, where the combined sensor group is awaiting relocation.

CENTRAL COLLECTION SERVER IMPLEMENTED. On January 1, the existing NIDS agreements with vendors was terminated. National Weather Service Headquarters began the dissemination of selected WSR-88D products via a wide area network (WAN) using a central collection server. With the help of local WFOs in installing the needed AWIPS software and associated patches, this was accomplished on time and in an outstanding manner. As a result, the tri-agency requirement that all NIDS-mandated products be collected is being met.

To assist sites in meeting this NIDS collection requirement and still have enough flexibility to have a robust locally generated RPS list, the connections to DOD WSR-88Ds has been upgraded to 33.6bps. This in turn allows sites connected to DOD WSR-88Ds to have up to 50 products on their RPS list.

WEATHER AND ADVANCED RADAR PROCESSOR UPGRADES. Telephone connections continue to be made at NWS RPG locations to link the NWS WSR-88D sites with FAA Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC). At present, Ft. Worth, Atlanta and Memphis have completed all interfaces with NWS WSR-88D sites inside the ARTCC airspace. When complete and implemented, NWS and FAA personnel will have access to real-time NEXRAD data at the ARTCCs via the weather and advanced radar processor (WARP).

THE NEW CSSA. The OT&E of the new CSSA (Cooperative Station Service Accountability) began on January 8. In our region WFOs Lake Charles and Austin/San Antonio were included in the test. As a result of delays in the testing process, the test was extended an additional week, until February 25, and WFO Shreveport was added to the test group. With the extension of the OT&E, the implementation date for the new software package was delayed until February 12. This is the first step in the modernization of the Cooperative Observer Program.

THE NATIONAL COOPERATIVE PROGRAM MANAGER. Andy Horvitz, the National Cooperative Program manager will be working as a field CPM during the week of February 26. Andy will work alongside the WFO Shreveport data acquisition group to obtain a better feel for the duties of this team. This should be an excellent learning opportunity for both the NCPM, and the staff at WFO Shreveport.

MAX/MIN TEMPERATURE SYSTEM. Operating instructions for the improved maximum/ minimum temperature system (MMTS) displays were approved and distributed to the field offices. The new MMTS (C450-7) has been redesigned to allow the unit to continue collecting high quality temperature data during electrical power outages of less than four hours. The new system is expected to improve temperature data quality and reliability for the volunteer observer network. A comparison of the new displays versus the original design (and a compatible COTS unit) is being conducted at WFO Shreveport to verify the anticipated improvements.

SERVICE AWARDS. Length of service awards recognizing 50 or more years of service will be presented to three cooperative program observers in the next few weeks. Two have faithfully served the NWS for 50 years and will receive the Edward H. Stoll Award. The other volunteer has provided data to the NWS for a remarkable 55 years, and he will receive the Benjamin Franklin Award. All three of these observers celebrated their anniversaries during January. Observers receiving the Stoll Awards are James B. Price of Pinson, Alabama, and Mr. and Mrs. Cecil LaBude of Chattanooga, Oklahoma. John D. Isenhower of Putnam, Texas, will receive the Benjamin Franklin Award.

COOPERATIVE PROGRAM OBSERVER RETIREES. Bernard Walther, the cooperative program observer from Cabot, Arkansas, has been forced to retire after 53 years. In 1998, Mr. Walther received the Thomas Jefferson Award, the Nation's highest award for volunteer observers. Mr. Walther suffered a stroke recently and is now in physical rehabilitation in Sherwood, Arkansas. His daughter, Nancy Saffle, and son-in-law who live next door, have assumed the observer duties.

NEW COOPERATIVE OBSERVER SITES. WFO Tallahassee has begun an aggressive process of recruiting and installing new cooperative program sites to complete the volunteer observer network within their CWA. The office was given the opportunity to increase its network as a result of the elimination of midnight shifts for data acquisition teams last fall. The office has enlisted seven new cooperative sites in the CWA in the past 60 days, reflecting a 20 percent increase in the number of sites. As a result, WFO Tallahassee has now achieved 91.6 percent coverage of the "C" network with a goal of 100 percent coverage by June 2001. After the "one per county" network is completed the data acquisition staff will focus on completing the "A" (climate grid) network.



WFO ALBUQUERQUE. In conjunction with the AMS Annual Meeting in Albuquerque, last month, the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperative (APEC) visited theWFO on January 18. The group comprises approximately 25 meteorologists from countries around the world, including Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Zambia, Cuaca, Australia, Chile, China, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam. The WFO staff provided a Powerpoint presentation to the group, then fielded questions which focused mainly on how different countries handle the various meteorological programs. The AWIPS demonstration seemed to be the highlight of the office tour.

As the bus was about to leave the parking lot, Debbie Larson (NOAA International Activities Office) ran back in to say there was one person missing. Sure enough, he was found with one of the forecasters at an AWIPS workstation.

WFO JACKSON. Senior forecaster Cindy Woods and WSO Vicksburg meteorologist Donell Woods gave a presentation to six fifth grade classes, their teachers and the principal on several meteorological topics, including how science and math have affected their lives. There were 150 students in attendance, about 90 percent minority.

WFO AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO. The WFO staff just completed its sixth year of Adopt-a-Highway for two miles of road in front of the office. This program is done through the Texas Highway Department and requires litter pickups at least four times a year. After each trash pickup, the volunteers gather at the "Trough" in downtown Babarosa for refreshments. The staff must really enjoy the community service they are providing, and/or the get-togethers after, because they just signed up for an additional two years.

WFO SHREVEPORT. HMT Christian Stapleton spoke on severe weather preparedness and safety to Eden Gardens Elementary School in Shreveport. He talked about NWS operations, NWR radio, and safety rules.

Forecaster Mary Keiser and HMT Steve Griffin gave a tour to Turner Middle School from Shreveport, and spoke to students about NWS operations and careers. Mary and service hydrologist Craig Ross gave a similar tour and presentation for Bethune Middle School from Shreveport. Bethune Middle School is over 90 percent African-American.

WFO TALLAHASSEE. During the holiday season and into January, WFO Tallahassee's outreach program remained active with a focus on Martin Luther King Day and the role of African Americans. The office also sponsored Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to less fortunate local families. Sponsorship also commenced for an "Xternship" high school student who was assigned various tasks aimed at learning the duties in an NWS office and assisting the operations staff. "Xternship" is a special program for gifted high school seniors who search out, in conjunction with their high school advisors, internships with public and private concerns in areas of their potential careers.

NWS literature was distributed at a week-long festival celebrating Kwanza and at the annual Martin Luther King Commemorative Breakfast. At the Leon County Day of Dialogue focusing on race relations, senior forecaster and EEO focal point Ron Block discussed the advantages of diversity in the NWS workplace. Ron and Webmaster/senior forecaster Mark Wool expanded the office educational/outreach home page. Ron also distributed NWS literature for participants of the Native American Inter-Tribal Pow Wow and served as a science fair judge at North Florida Christian School. MIC Paul Duval and Mark also represented Tallahassee at the annual Florida State University career day which attracts many potential NOAA employees.


JANUARY 1 - 31, 2001

Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
Art Ayers CWSU ZTL Retirement MIC, GS-13
Don Baer CWSU ZMA Retirement MIC, GS-13
Frederick Brooks WFO OUN Retirement El Tech, GS-11
Leon Minton SRH SOD Retirement IT Specialist, GS-13
Edward Bracken WFO EYW Resignation Forecaster, GS-12
Diann Coonfield WFO OHX Promotion to WR Met Intern, GS-9

Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
J. L. Winger WFO JAN New Hire El Tech, GS-11
Robert Barritt WFO LUB Reassignment from CR Senior Forecaster, GS-13
Steven Listemaa RFC SIL Reassignment from NWSH HAS Forecaster, GS-12
Robert Sandifer WFO SJT New Hire El Tech, GS-11

Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Brian Smith WFO LZK New Hire from SCEP Met Intern, GS-7
Harry Petaisto CWSU ZMA Reassignment from MFL Meteorologist, GS-12
Alana McCants RFC FWR New Hire from SCEP Hydrologist, GS-9
Douglas Streu WSO FAA Promotion from FAA Met Instructor, GS-13
Robert Prentice WSO FAA Promotion from FAA Met Instructor, GS-13

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