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

January 15, 1998

SOUTHERN TOPICS


ACTING REGIONAL DIRECTOR

On January 3, 1998, three National Weather Service employees retired from the federal civil service after having completed a combined 110 years of distinguished public service. They are Harry Hassel, Regional Director of the Southern Region, Al Lee, MIC of NWSFO Little Rock, AR, and Dave McLaughlin, DMIC of NWSFO Lubbock, TX.

I've personally known all three and it has been a pleasure to have been associated with Harry, Al, and Dave. Their professionalism and loyalty to the National Weather Service has been top-notch. Notably, I must add because of my very active day-to-day working association with Harry, I will certainly miss him, and his mentorship and the heartfelt support he gave me and the Southern Region. We wish them and their families the very best in the many years ahead.

HARRY HASSEL. Harry was born and raised in Nebraska. He is a graduate of the University of Utah where he received his B.S. degree in 1964. He served in various field positions in the Western Region, including DMIC of WSFO San Francisco before becoming Deputy Director of the Western Region, a position he held for 6 years. Subsequently he was named Regional Director of the Eastern Region and then later transferred to Alaska where he served as Director of the Alaska Region before being named as Director of the Southern Region in 1990, the position he held until his retirement. Harry is the only NWS employee to have been Director of three of the six NWS Regions. Under his leadership, the Southern Region has seen remarkable change as the NWS was undergoing the major part of its restructuring and a large part of its modernization. New offices have been constructed or leased, the WSR-88D network has been installed and commissioned, and new and improved services have been instituted. During the period 1993-96 he served as coordinator of the NWS Olympic Weather Support Project which received national and international recognition and acclaim, and he has been responsible for initiating a number of pioneering programs in the Southern Region, including but not limited to the STAR Program, the Service Enhancement Program, upgrade of the Region's NWR consoles, cooperative initiatives with a number of River Authorities in the State of Texas, new initiatives with the Emergency Management Agencies in the states of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida, Cooperative Institutes at Texas A&M University and Florida State University, and initiatives involving the National Severe Storms Laboratory and the FAA. Harry's NWS career spanned a period of 36 years.

Harry and his wife, Jutta, intend to remain in the Fort Worth area for the time being, and we wish both of them all the best in future endeavors they may undertake after retirement from the NWS.

AL LEE. Al's hometown is Sheridan, WY. He received his B.S. degree from Texas A&M University in 1965, and has done post graduate work at the University of Miami and the University of Virginia. Al began his NWS career as a Student Trainee at the NWS office in Sheridan and subsequently served as a Student Trainee at Dodge City and Kansas City. After graduating from Texas A&M he came on board full-time at the National Severe Storms Forecast Center and then transferred to National Weather Service Headquarters where he remained for 7 years. While at NWSH, Al worked in various program areas including the development and expansion of the NWR program and as program leader for Media Services. In 1975, he transferred to WSFO Columbia, SC as a Lead Forecaster. He was named MIC of the Little Rock Forecast Office in 1981 and has held that position until his retirement. Al recently traveled to Washington, D.C. to accept the DOC Silver Medal on behalf of NWSFO Little Rock in recognition of the WSFO staff's exemplary services during the March 1, 1997 Arkansas Tornado Outbreak. Under his leadership, the Little Rock NWSFO has received other recognition as well, and a WSFO Little Rock forecaster team was the charter recipient of the Southern Region's Service Enhancement Award in 1996. Al's NWS career spanned a period of 36 years.

Al and his wife, Mary Frances, plan to remain in the Little Rock area for the present, and we wish them all the best in the future years.

DAVE McLAUGHLIN. Dave was born and raised in Georgetown, TX. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Texas at Austin in 1961. He began his National Weather Service Career as a Student Trainee at the Southern Region Headquarters, and subsequently served as a Student Trainee at WSO Austin, TX. After receiving his degree, he came on board full-time as a meteorologist at WSO Abilene, TX, in the summer of 1961. He and his wife, Barbara, then embarked on what can only be described as a series of epochal moves. When they relocated, they did it big-time. After a period of time in Abilene, they moved to Fairbanks, AK, where Dave was a satellite meteorologist at the satellite receiving station. Next they moved to Atlantic City, NJ, where he worked as a research meteorologist at a NWS office co-located with an FAA research facility. More cross country moves ensued when they moved to Albuquerque, NM, where Dave was a forecaster at the WSFO. Next came a move to Miami, FL, where he served as a forecaster at WSFO Miami, and then MIC of the CWSU at the Miami ARTCC. In early 1990, Dave and Barbara packed up the tent for their final NWS move, and headed the moving van west for Lubbock, TX, where he became DMIC, a position he has held until his recent retirement. (There are rumors that the stocks of moving companies went into a free-fall when Dave announced his retirement.)

Dave and Barbara plan to remain in Lubbock for the present, and we wish them both the very best in the many years ahead. Dave's NWS career spanned a period of 38 years.

In commenting on his pending departure, Dave made the following comment to the staff at Lubbock:

"But now it's time to begin a new journey. There are new things to do, new places to go and new friends to meet. New adventures beckon. I only hope that the coming years are as good as the last thirty-eight."

Most likely, Harry and Al would echo those same sentiments.

METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES DIVISION

CERTIFICATIONS TO MOVE FORWARD. With the Department of Commerce's decision on December 19, 1997 authorizing NOAA to obtain and deploy an additional 19 AWIPS, the Modernization Transition Committee's (MTC) concerns regarding possible degradation of service related to NWS field office certifications and closures have been satisfied. The certifications which the MTC has endorsed since March 1997 will now move forward to NOAA, the Secretary of Commerce, and then to Congress. Within this batch of certifications are the closure certifications for 32 Southern Region offices. These include WSOs Abilene, Waco, Augusta, Athens, Apalachicola, Austin, Port Arthur, Baton Rouge, Columbus, Daytona Beach, Del Rio, Galveston, Fort Myers, Macon, Orlando, Montgomery, Pensacola, West Palm Beach, Roswell, Savannah, Wichita Falls, Bristol, Tupelo, Victoria, and Knoxville. Also included are the residual WSOs at Atlanta, El Paso, Lubbock, New Orleans, San Antonio, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City.

UPCOMING COUNTY WARNING AREA CHANGE. Choctaw and Pushmataha counties in Oklahoma will be transferred from NWSFO Norman's forecast/county warning area to NWSFO Tulsa's forecast/county warning area on January 20, 1998. Franklin County in Arkansas will be transferred at the same time from NWSFO Little Rock to NWSFO Tulsa. These changes are based on the installation of the new WSR-88D in Fort Smith.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SUPPORT. NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas WCM Jim Stefkovich gave a presentation at the Emergency Decision Makers Conference at the University of North Texas in Denton. Jim's presentation featured El Niño, severe weather climatology, NOAA Weather Radio, EAS, SAME, and EMWIN. Approximately 120 people were in attendance. Other speakers at the meeting included FEMA Region VI Director Buddy Young and representatives from the EPA, the FBI, and university officials.

NWSFO Tulsa WCM Steve Piltz is working with NWS and EM staffs in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kansas to test interstate communications systems. The exercise involves sending and tracking a test message as it moves along, noting the time of receipt at various locations in the states. While the exercise is not as rigorous as a full-scale hazardous weather drill, it will assist the states in improving their communications capabilities.

PUBLIC OUTREACH. NWSFO Austin/San Antonio Lead Forecaster Larry Peabody (a former Southern Region STAR) has authored several articles promoting NOAA Weather Radio. These articles were published in the January 1998 editions of several magazines within Texas, including Texas Highways (circulation 430,000), Texas Parks and Wildlife (142,000), and Texas Gardener (30,000). Thus, Larry's messages of NWR awareness have potentially reached over half a million residents in Texas.

NWSO Nashville Forecaster Tim Troutman and WCM Jerry Orchanian have completed an agreement with the advertising department of the Kroger Grocery Corporation. The agreement provides for the printing of severe weather safety tips on their advertising circulars during the months of March, April, May, and June. This will result in 1.2 million circulars with severe weather information being distributed each week across southern Kentucky, middle and eastern Tennessee, and northern Alabama. These fliers are also distributed in local newspapers each Sunday.

HYDROLOGIC SERVICES DIVISION

NEW REGIONAL HYDROLOGIST. Jerry Nunn has been selected as the new Chief of Southern Region's Hydrologic Services Division. A Fort Worth native, Jerry graduated from Paschal High School in 1963. After graduating from Texas A&M University in 1968, he took a position with the Scientific Services Division of Southern Region Headquarters. In 1969, Jerry transferred to the WSFO Fort Worth as a meteorologist intern. He pursued graduate studies at the University of Texas at Arlington, receiving the M.S. in 1973. Upon graduation, he returned to the WSFO Fort Worth in 1973 as the Service Hydrologist. Jerry transferred to the West Gulf River Forecast Center (WGRFC) in 1974 and worked there for 19 years.

While at WGRFC, Jerry developed and wrote the WGRFC Mean Areal Runoff (MARO) Function, which brought grid-based rainfall processing capabilities to the NWSRFS software suite. He also maintained and coordinated hydrologic software development.

Jerry transferred to the Missouri Basin RFC in February 1993. He has been the Development and Operations Hydrologist at MBRFC since that time, overseeing the training and assisting the RFC transition into the AWIPS era. He was instrumental in developing, organizing, and managing the transition of MBRFC's hydrometeorological software and procedures from a hybrid system resident on the NOAA Central Computer Facility and PR1ME computers, to one utilizing the functionality of a network of Hewlett-Packard scientific workstations. He has also been quite active in training; serving as an instructor at the Basic Operational Hydrology (BOH) course and coordinating the development of several office training seminars.

Jerry has a wife, Lynda, and a daughter, Melanie. He will report to his new position on February 17.

WFO HYDROLOGIC FORECAST SYSTEM (WHFS) TRAINING. Training for field personnel on WHFS will begin in January 1998. Resident training at the National Weather Service Training Center (NWSTC) will be provided for two people from each field office. The training will take place as close to AWIPS deployment as scheduling will allow. This training class was jointly developed by the NWSTC, the Office of Hydrology, and individuals from the field and regional offices familiar with the system. Instructors for the course will include NWSTC instructors and other NWS experts on the system. Ed May, former chief of SR HSD, will be one of the instructors (starting with the March class). The course is structured to begin on a Tuesday morning (with Monday a travel day) and run through Friday at noon.

The prerequisites for the WHFS course are the following chapters from the correspondence

course "Operations of the NWS Hydrologic Service Program":

Lesson 3 - Data Collection, Networks, and Processing

Lesson 5 - The NWS Flash Flood Program

Lesson 6 - Basic Hydrology - An Introduction to Hydrologic Modeling

(Old title for Lesson 6 was "Basic Hydrology - A Primer for Meteorologists")

Lesson 7 - Basic Hydrology - An Overview of the NWSRFS

Lesson 9 - The Effects of Dams, Reservoirs, and Levees on River Forecasting

The WHFS workshop schedule for SR offices during the first half of calendar year 1998 follows:

Course Dates Office AWIPS Delivery Date

27 JAN-30 JAN 98 Tulsa WFO 11/97

(one person)

24 FEB-27 FEB 98 Norman WFO 11/97

24 MAR-27 MAR 98 Fort Worth WFO 1/98

Fort Worth RFC 1/98

21 APR-24 APR 98 New Orleans WFO 2/98

New Orleans RFC 2/98

19 MAY-22 MAY 98 Tulsa WFO (one person) 11/97

Southern Region HQ TBD

FLASH FLOODING IN TENNESSEE. During the nighttime hours of January 7, heavy rains and rapid snowmelt led to significant flash flooding of the Doe River in eastern Tennessee. Damage was great and seven lives were lost in the disaster. Flash flood watches and warnings were issued hours in advance of the event. A Southern Region Service Assessment Team has been formed to review forecast and warning services, external coordination and communication and response.

MORE FLORIDA FLOODING. Heavy rains continued to plague northern and central Florida in December. NWSO Tampa Bay service hydrologist Frank Alsheimer reports that the Tampa International Airport received a record 15.57 inches of rain for the month (13.42 inches above normal for December). Other amounts for the month included 15.5 inches at New Port Richey, 15.19 inches at the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Airport and 14.69 inches at the Sarasota/Bradenton Airport. The 15.57 inches at the Tampa International Airport ranks as the 8th wettest for any month, and by far as the greatest for any dry season month (October through April). The 1997 rainfall total of 67.71 inches ranks as the 3rd wettest since 1891. This is remarkable since five of the first six months measured below normal rainfall including the 2nd driest June ever. In fact, water restrictions were in place across central Florida for much of the spring and summer.

In the Jacksonville HSA, hydrologic focal point Kent Kuyper says that Jacksonville received a record 9.77 inches of rain in December eclipsing the old record of 7.05 inches set way back in 1885. Widespread rain totals of eight to nine inches were common with the town of Mandarin registering 14.8 inches. Rivers in flood during December included the Altamaha, Alapaha and Satilla in Georgia and the St. Mary's and Santa Fe rivers and Black Creek in northern Florida.

WET AND WHITE IN THE WEST. December was an exceptionally wet and cool month across western portions of the Southern Region. An abundance of snow fell over New Mexico and parts of the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. In southeast New Mexico, Roswell received 21 inches of snow during the month establishing an all-time monthly snowfall record. Weather records in Roswell date back to 1893. Hope, New Mexico, measured 26.5 inches of snow. December 20-23rd brought the worst of the wintry weather as widespread one to four foot snowfalls occurred across the central and eastern parts of the state. National Guard C-130 hay-bale drops were necessary to help prevent starvation of livestock.

Farther east, the town of Hereford, Texas, received a December total of 16 inches of snow with Friona registering a foot. And the folks of El Paso received their 4th white Christmas in recorded history as one inch of snow fell during the night of December 24th through the morning hours of December 25th.

A WET YEAR IN MEMPHIS. NWSFO Memphis service hydrologist Buzz Merchlewitz reports that 1997 was the fourth wettest year in the city of Memphis. The city received 71.94 inches of rain, 19.84 inches above normal. Buzz also reminds us that March and April included record and near record flooding along the Mississippi River and many of its tributaries.

SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION

GUIDE TO CONTINUING EDUCATION. Many years ago SSD developed the first edition of "A Guide to Continuing Education for NWS Employees," a comprehensive listing of correspondence courses in meteorology, hydrology, math, physics, and related subjects. That original booklet has been revised many times, thanks to other regions as well as employees in the Southern Region. An updated version, prepared by Tim Troutman (NWSO Nashville) and Fred Ziegler (NWSO Amarillo) has just been distributed to all offices. Tim and Fred worked from the 1993 version of the Guide which was prepared by Jeff Boyne, then at NWSO Lake Charles.

PROFESSOR JAMES MOORE VISITS ATL. Dr. Jim Moore from St. Louis University recently visited NWSFO Atlanta. Staff from a couple of neighboring offices joined with those from the NWSFO, RFC and CWSU to hear Jim discuss isentropic analysis techniques, elevated thunderstorms forecasting, jet streak ageostrophic circulations, frontogenesis and CSI. Before Dr.Moore came to our office he had SOO Gary Beeley select a recent weather event that impacted Georgia. Jim used the PC-GRIDDS model output file to demonstrate some of the analysis techniques to detect the items above. The case included a good example of frontogenesis and perhaps some CSI which resulted in 2-4 inches of snow for Georgia. Overall it was an excellent seminar/workshop and very favorable comments were received from the forecasters that attended.

EL NIÑO INFORMATION. NOAA has reissued a public information brochure which deals with El Niño. It can be obtained via the Internet at http://www.noaa.gov. Click on El Niño, go to the section entitled "Publications for the Public," and choose "Reports to the Nation." The brochure includes text and many color graphics. Earlier reports in the Reports to the Nation series, a joint effort of the UCAR Office for Interdisciplinary Earth Studies and NOAA's Office of Global Programs, were entitled "The Climate System" and "Our Ozone Shield."

AWIPS APPLICATIONS HOMEPAGE. The Techniques Development Lab at NWSH has created an AWIPS Web site that includes the AWIPS Integration Framework Manual (AIFM), providing a wealth of information about developing applications for AWIPS. This home page exists both inside the firewall (accessible only from AWIPS workstations) and outside the firewall (accessible from anywhere at www.nws.noaa.gov/tdl/awips). TDL has asked for user comments, which should be addressed to Harry Lebowitz at W/OSD10. Incidentally, many - if not most - of the local applications described on the Web site were written by members of the Tulsa NWSO staff! Good work, Tulsa.

MORE WEB KUDOS. Steve Rinard, MIC NWSO Lake Charles, recently passed on the following from a satisfied customer, and we second Steve's comments to his staff. Good job to all who are involved with the Lake Charles (and Tulsa) Web sites.

Dear Sir,

I have visited many NWS web pages and yours is simply the best. Excellent information for the public to know and possibly some that may save their lives. My next high ranking NWS Web page goes to TULSA, OK which provides many good links. I am a coop observer for NWSO Shreveport in Natchitoches, LA and enjoy your Web page very much. Thanks for such a good and informative Web page.

SEVERE LOCAL STORMS CONFERENCE. The AMS 19th Conference on Severe Local Storms will be held September 14-18 this year in Minneapolis. The call for papers appears in the current AMS Bulletin. Note the deadline for abstracts is March 16. This year papers are specifically invited only on topics that are closely aligned with chapters of the new AMS Monograph on Severe Storms, which will be published soon. A panel discussion on the topic "Communicating Information about Hazardous Weather" is also planned. Harold Brooks (NSSL) is the program chairman (brooks@nssl.noaa.gov), or check the conference Web site for more information (use the link on the SSD Upcoming Meetings Web page).

WARNING DECISION MAKING SCENARIO CD-ROM. The OSF has issued Volume 2 in the WSR-88D Interactive Training CD-ROM Modules. These modules use the multimedia capabilities of the Professional Development Workstations (PDWs) or any high-end PC to simulate real-time events. Volume 2, which is a required element for Block 10 of the ongoing Distance Learning Operations Course, contains a different event and several new features suggested by forecasters than the beta version issued last March. Scenarios 2 and 3 will be distributed in the next few months. The OSF has created a Support Page (use the link on the SSD Training and Professional development Web page) for those who need help installing the modules.

NCEP MODEL REVIEW. The annual Review of the NCEP Production Site was held December 3-4 in the NOAA Science Center. Bernard Meisner (SSD) represented Southern Region. The review included presentations by each of the National Centers and the various modeling branches of the Environmental Modeling Center. Some important changes will soon be made to the NCEP Production Suite.

During the week of 26 January, NCEP will upgrade the 48-km/38 level "Early Eta" to a 32-km 45-level version of the Meso-Eta model. The new model will cover a domain slightly smaller than the previous model, but with a greater spatial resolution. NCEP will continue to generate the same products as are currently produced by the Early Eta. The model output will be interpolated to AWIPS 212 (40-km), 215 (20-km), 210 (Puerto Rico) and 207 and 216 (Alaskan) grids in addition to the current AWIPS 211 (80-km) grid. NCEP hopes to eventually run the model four times per day.

The 40-km RUC II, developed by FSL, is expected to replace the current 60-km RUC model in February. Several Southern Region field offices are among those currently participating in the RUC II evaluation. Each hour the new version of the model generates analyses and forecasts of future surface and upper air conditions out to 12 hours in the future. (The current upper-air RUC runs every three hours by comparison, with only surface analyses available hourly.) Model forecast soundings are also available.

NCEP announced that it plans to discontinue the NGM sometime in mid-1999. By that time TDL will have completed development of Eta-based MOS guidance to replace that currently generated by the NGM.

In addition to other modeling efforts (regional spectral model, global and regional ensemble forecasts, hurricane model, ocean models, etc.) NCEP programmers are busy preparing for the year 2000 and the transition to the soon to be purchased Class VII computer.

NCEP responded favorably to requests from regional representatives for more frequent and timely notifications of model changes and assessments of model strengths and weaknesses. Goeff DiMego was singled out for praise for his frequent contributions to the soo_sac mailing list.

NWSTC NEWS. Here are some recent developments and announcements from the NWS Training Center:

CONFLICT RESOLUTION TRAINING. The NWSO Amarillo staff came up with a good solution to a training need; they contracted with the Workforce Development Division of Amarillo College to provide on-site training in Conflict Management. The training was requested by Senior Forecasters to assist them with their shift supervision duties. It was conducted in a four-hour block from 8am-12pm. The instructor was very professional and flexible, and she was able to adapt quickly to questions posed by the forecasters. All FICs and the NWSO leadership participated. The training was well received by all attendees and was very cost-effective.

TECHNICAL ATTACHMENTS. The first attachment this week is our usual annual index to technical attachments (1997). Two attachments are from NWSO Tampa Bay Area: Dan Sobien and Charlie Paxton provide A Primer on Coastal Flood Forecasting, and Frank Alsheimer and Ron Morales, Jr. authored A Climatological Examination of Weather Conditions in West Central and Southwest Florida During El Niño/La Niña Years. Terry Huber and John Pendergrast (NWSO Midland) provided Rotational Velocity Trends in Some Tornadic Supercells over Southwest Texas and Southeast New Mexico.

Several other local studies and papers are in final review at SSD, and they will appear as technical attachments in the near future. We appreciate the patience of all authors and apologize for delays that have resulted from recent events.

SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION BRANCH

CELLULAR TELEPHONE USE. Many offices now have two and sometimes three cellular telephones. Care must be taken when using these telephones. The user must first ask him/herself a) if there are other telephones available (cellular telephones are to be used only when there are no other telephones available), b) is the call necessary and, c) is the call for government business. Personal calls, both incoming and/or outgoing, are not authorized on government cellular telephones. This rule includes long distance and local calls. All cellular telephone users are cautioned to use these guidelines when using the cellular telephones. Office managers are strongly encouraged to review cellular telephone usage.

OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH

MEXICAN UPPER-AIR OBSERVATIONS. On December 15, 1997, the International Activities Office NWS was informed, by copy of a letter from the Permanent Representative of Mexico for the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to the Secretary General of WMO, that upper-air observations at a number of Mexican stations may be unsatisfactory and should be used with caution. When the Omega navigation system ceased operation at the end of September, Mexico converted 8 upper air systems to use VLF signals as the navigational aid. The NWS had earlier tested this method and found it to be unacceptable as a replacement for the Omega signal in upper-air wind computations in the Caribbean. Mexico plans to upgrade these VLF systems to use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology sometime next year. The stations are: Guadalupe (76151), Empalme (76256), Socorro (76723), Manzanillo (76654), Acapulco (76805), Cancun (76595), Veracruz (76692), and Mexico City (76679).

There is also concern about data quality from other upper-air sites. There are five WWII-era Ground Monitoring Devices still in operation at Monterrey (76394), Chihuahua (76225), Merida (76644), Guadalajara (76612) and Mazatlan (76458). Observations from several of these sites, particularly Monterrey, are routinely cited for errors (heights and temperature) by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. These stations are also planned to be replaced next year by new systems which will use GPS as the navigational aid.

The station at La Paz (76405) was not converted from Omega to VLF and is not reporting wind data, but it too is scheduled to be upgraded to GPS next year.

We are continuing to work with the Mexican meteorological service (Servicio Meteorologico Nacional (SMN)) to improve their upper-air observations as soon as possible. Further updates will be provided as information becomes available.

ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION

Bruce Beehler, Budget Officer, will be leaving the Administrative Management Division, SRH on January 16. He is transferring to the Office of Systems Operations, NWSH. Bruce will be missed at SRH and we wish him the best in his new assignment. The Vacancy Announcement #98-003A to fill behind him opened January 7 and closes February 4.

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