UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
At press time for this issue of Topics the 2001 hurricane season is not yet a week old, and already the first tropical storm of the season - Allison - is dissipating in South Texas. The storm formed June 5 in the northwest Gulf of Mexico and overnight dropped as much as ten inches of rain in the Houston/Galveston area. The Regional Operations Center was manned at Southern Region Headquarters and began coordination calls with the West Gulf RFC staff, affected WFOs, and the Texas Department of Emergency Management to focus on problem areas. Based on our briefings and recognizing the potential for more heavy rains, the DEM is organizing water rescue crews - which utilize high profile vehicles and helicopters with rescue baskets - from locations as far away as San Antonio, Austin, and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Of particular concern at press time are model forecasts indicating a very slow moving circulation with the potential for heavy rains in the area for several more days...recalling memories of devastating floods in South Texas even from what appeared to be weak and dissipating storms. We all recall Claudette in 1979 which resulted in more than 40 inches of rain.
The good news is any rain which eventually spreads eastward will bring relief to those areas still feeling the effects of drought.
KUDOS. Jim Lushine, WFO Miami WCM, was honored at the South Florida Hurricane Conference in Fort Lauderdale last week when John Wilson, the Lee County (Fort Myers) emergency management director, presented him with the Dr. Robert Sheets South Florida Lifetime Commitment Award. The award recognizes Jim's long-time contributions to the survivability of South Florida. Jim's Miami home was one of thousands heavily damaged by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, and his personal experience that night made him even more effective in his tireless pursuit of hurricane preparedness for South Florida. Congratulations, Jim, on this richly deserved award.
Congratulations as well to Reggina Garza, senior HAS forecaster at the Southeast RFC in Atlanta. She has been appointed to the American Meteorological Society Board for Operational Government Meteorologists, joining Tallahassee MIC Paul Duval, who is also a BOGM member. Reggina is the first hydrologist on the Board and will represent operational hydrology in a wide-ranging capacity. Her three-year appointment will continue through the January 2004 AMS Annual Meeting. She will bring wide-ranging interests and skills to the position; for example, Reggina is also working on a project in Honduras and Nicaragua where the NWS is assisting the Nicaraguan Hydrometeorological Center in establishing the first River Forecast Center in that country. She will be developing operational procedures, identifying hydro- meteorological products and services, and help with the identification of the hydro- meteorological user community. Congratulations, Reggina.
Web Site. The IFPS Web site is still going strong with additions being made almost daily. Have you visited the site lately? If not, point your mouse to the following link:
Are you the office focal point for WWA, CAFÉ or IFPS? If so, please ensure your name has been relayed to Melinda Bailey so that you can be added to the Web site.
Training Development Meeting. During the last week of May a planning meeting was held at SRH to design the Regional Advanced IFPS Course, which is aimed at supplementing the knowledge and information gained at the NWS Training Center Course. The information in this course will be based on the RPP11 Linux version of the GFE Suite. In attendance at the training meeting were WFO participants Steve Nelson (Tulsa), Steve Taylor (Lubbock), Charlie Paxton (Tampa Bay) and Lyle Wilson (Morristown), along with Matt Strahan (CWWD/DET) and Melinda Bailey (CWWD), and Mark Mathewson ( NOAA Forecast Systems Lab). Ken Waters (SSD) served as meeting facilitator. Beginning in July, SRH will host several of these training courses. Topics, schedules and other information concerning the regional course will be made available soon.
Initial Graphic Production. The WFOs have been asking what minimum set of graphics they will be required to produce as we move toward full IFPS operation. The regional IFPS team (check the IFPS Web site), based on input from various offices, has established two sets of minimum graphics - one for AWIPS 5.0 operation and the other for AWIPS 5.1.1 (or the Linux version). This was necessary to accommodate the varying capabilities of the two loads.
a) Temperature - every three hours out to 48 hours.
b) PoP - every 12 hours out to 48 hours.
Offices will have the option of posting these graphics as "experimental" on their Web sites. The background should be white, counties and interstates should be included, and major cities should be used as sample points. The size should be 620 x 620 pixels.
AWIPS 5.1.1 (or Linux version):
The graphics should be at 5 km resolution. Color curves will be decided at a later date. The regional team will be developing scripts and providing image configuration files to assist in producing the graphics and posting them to the Web site. The full suite of graphics will be decided later.
Linux Boxes. Southern Region Headquarters is considering the best means by which to procure the necessary Linux boxes to host the GFE Suite software. The plan is to procure enough systems to accommodate a training class and then send or ship the computers home with the participants in order to allow immediate use.
METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES BRANCH
SPACEFLIGHT METEOROLOGY GROUP (STS-104 Pre-Mission Summary). Space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift-off June 14 for STS-104, the tenth space shuttle mission to visit the International Space Station (ISS). This flight will mark the completion of the initial assembly phase of ISS. The crew will install, activate, and perform the first space walk from the joint airlock. The joint airlock will enable crews to perform space walks in either United States or Russian spacesuits while recovering over 90 percent of the gases which were previously lost when airlocks were vented to the vacuum of space.
Due to the high risk of thunderstorms for the mid-afternoon summer launch, weather will likely be a forecast challenge. SMG will be issuing forecasts based on specific weather flight rules for return to launch site, transoceanic abort landing (TAL), abort once around and first day prime landing site.
SMG forecasts and information with links to other NASA and weather sites can be accessed on the Internet at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/smg/.
TALLAHASSEE FAM FLOAT. Early last month, six of the WFO Tallahassee forecasters went on a "Familiarization Float" in their coastal waters of responsibility. The six included the captain of the vessel, WCM Bob Goree, who happens to own the 23ft boat. Bob gave his fellow forecasters an enjoyable and informative near-shore cruise. Before setting out, Bob introduced the forecasters to the marina owner and local commercial fishermen, who offered feedback on the coastal waters forecast, as well as their likes and dislikes of CRS. Once underway the forecasters were instructed in marine safety and use of life jackets. Bob also familiarized the forecasters with navigational aids, VHF radio, the depth sensor and GPS.
The group visited Ochlockonee Shoal, then Wakulla Reef (a favorite spot for local fishermen) and the 'K' tower, a 100ft USAF tower equipped with navigational aides. This is also a hot spot for fishermen, and Bob spotted schools of Cobia congregated near the structure. The next destination was to the north near the Franklin County coast, in the vicinity of Alligator Point. Before entering the St. Marks River, they took a close look at the "East Flats," a shallow expanse of coastal waters a mile or so south of the St. Marks lighthouse.
Learning first-hand about these local areas and features will help the forecasters communicate well with their users. It's also worth noting that day's marine forecast verified very well.
FAA ACADEMY. Douglas Streu and Marco Bohorquez, senior NWS instructors at the FAA Academy, recently completed instruction of Initial Qualifications Classes for FAA pilot weather briefers. Twenty-seven FAA students successfully completed the training which will prepare them for conducting pilot weather briefings at their facilities after taking the oral examinations.
Senior instructor Robert Prentice recently participated in several briefings to staff members and pilots of the U.S. Customs Office in Oklahoma City. His talks included aviation weather hazards with emphasis on thunderstorms, and general information about safety during severe weather. Over two-dozen people attended.
Robert also briefed FAA air traffic controllers, engineers, and program managers on microbursts, gust fronts, and other causes of wind shear. He will continue to assist the FAA in their development of a low-level wind shear and microburst alert CBL aimed at providing valuable training for FAA tower air traffic controllers.
AIRPORT WEATHER WARNINGS AT WFO CORPUS CHRISTI. On May 1, WFO Corpus Christi implemented the Airport Weather Warning (AWW) product to the users of the Corpus Christi International Airport. The AWW replaces the previous Local Airport Advisory. MIC Ken Graham and senior forecaster Brian LaMarre led the effort of enhancing the local partnership between the WFO and the FAA. The WFO was given a handheld scanner for direct communication with the Airport Communications Department and ground crew aviation operations. The WFO staff will use the scanner to immediately disseminate the Airport Weather Warning. One criterion of the AWW is issuance when lightning is forecast within five miles of the airport. As a result of such, fueling operations will cease. On the night of May 21, this enhanced communication proved crucial to aviation operations when a lightning storm passed over the airport. Combining WSR-88D data with lightning detection sensors allowed WFO staff to provide up-to-the-minute information to the airport staff with the Airport Weather Warning, ensuring safe fueling.
AVIATION PROGRAM AT WFO CORPUS CHRISTI. The Corpus Christi Air Traffic Control Tower sponsored the annual aviation conference, "Operation Rain-check." The event hosted a wide exchange of aviation efforts, including presentations from NWS partners and customers. In addition to presentations from the FAA and the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, the conference was attended by WFO Corpus Christi aviation focal point Brian LaMarre, and forecaster Mark Lenz, as well as approximately 30 pilots and aviation customers.
Brian discussed the newly implemented Airport Weather Warning (see above), and Mark spoke on TAF format and presented local examples tailored to South Texas aviation weather. Brian and Mark fielded numerous questions pertaining to ASOS and upper air observations from the audience of pilots, both commercial and private. In addition, the pilots inquired about the usage of their pilot reports (PIREPs). It was stressed that PIREPs are vital information used by NWS forecasters to complete the big picture of what is occurring in our skies. The pilots were pleased to know we cared so much about their observations.
SEVERE WEATHER PREPAREDNESS AND OUTREACH
Hurricane preparedness recently kicked into high gear across the coastal sections of the Southern Region. Here are some of the highlights.
Hurricane Tour Stops in Miami. This year's East Coast version of the annual week-long Hurricane Awareness Tour (NOAA P-3 aircraft) made one stop in our region, at Opa Locka Airport near Miami. WFO Miami WCM Jim Lushine coordinated and organized much of the logistics for the one-day visit. The tour featured NHC director Max Mayfield along with other members of his staff, as well as the Aircraft Operations Center flight crew.
About 200 elementary school students visited the site and rotated through each of four stations. The stations were: 1) Miami-Dade Emergency Management and American Red Cross, 2) a Coast Guard rescue helicopter and airplane, 3) the NOAA P-3 hurricane research plane, and 4) a hurricane video presentation. Personnel were on hand at each station to guide visitors. Many students commented that their favorite spots were the P-3 and the helicopter. Two Miami TV stations covered the event as did the Associated Press and one local major newspaper.
Next year's tour will be on the Gulf Coast, so all five stops will be in the Southern Region.
Safety Party. WFO Tallahassee WCM Bob Goree took part in a "Hurricane Safety Party" at the Tallahassee Mall. Several hundred people visited the event. Bob premiered the latest version of his PowerPoint based quiz game "NWS Hurricane Challenge." The game was played five times during the daylong event. Senior forecaster Ron Block also participated (while on mids, no less!). Contestants competed enthusiastically and found questions challenging and informative. The Weather Channel's "singing weather dude" Nick Walker, observed the game and expressed interest. Bob gave Mr. Walker a copy of the game for his use in school presentations.
WFO Melbourne WCM Dennis Decker delivered a hurricane preparedness presentation at the National Interagency Civil - Military Institute (NICI) workshop in Orlando. NICI's mission is to improve the effectiveness of joint civilian-military initiatives among the U.S. and Central and South American nations during man-made and natural disasters. The conference was attended by about 150 military officers, emergency managers, elected officials and meteorologists from Central and South American nations.
WFO Jacksonville DAPM Mike McAllister and WCM Fred Johnson participated in the North Central Florida Hurricane Response Exhibition in Gainesville. This event increases public awareness of hurricanes and other hazards which may impact the area. It also educates the community on the numerous hurricane relief agencies, with a focus on the agencies which come together to mitigate or respond to a disaster. The feature display was the USAFR WC-130 Hurricane Hunter plane. More than 7,000 school children and residents attended the two-day event.
South Florida Preparedness. From 250 to 300 students attended a combined NOAA outreach operation at a minority inner-city school. Bob Ebaugh and Zack Brown represented WFO Miami and discussed weather hazards. Other representatives were from the NHC, NOAA's Hurricane Research Division, and the NOAA Corps. Bob has spoken to about 1,000 students and adults at four other presentations during the past month.
ARTCC Hurricane Exercise. Stan Holland (MIC, CWSU Miami) designed and wrote the weather portion of the Miami Air Route Traffic Control Center's Hurricane Preparedness Exercise. The exercise involved preparations and responses to a mythical Hurricane Harriet which first moves directly over San Juan and then moves northwest to threaten and eventually make a second landfall in South Florida. The exercise also required air traffic alerts, air traffic centers closing down, emergency leave requests, volunteers, locking down the facility, and recovery measures. Stan's advisories were quite professional and very helpful to the success of the exercise.
In other preparedness news:
Midland Thunderbuckets. Midland ABC-TV affiliate gave away 40-plus Thunderbuckets in May. Thunderbuckets are buckets containing disaster survivor materials including an NWR, food, water and the spectrum of NWS weather safety booklets. The NWS and American Red Cross helped develop the Thunderbucket concept and the agencies are highlighted in promos for the daily Thunderbucket drawings.
WFO Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian taped a 30 minute public affairs program on WPGD-TV, Hendersonville, Tennessee. It was a roundtable discussion which also included representatives from the state emergency management agency, American Red Cross, WSM-AM radio, and a local television weatherman. Jerry discussed how Doppler radar identifies tornadoes, reviewed tornado safety tips for the home and in the car, and demonstrated various NOAA Weather Radios.
Memphis Career Day. WFO Memphis forecasters Matt Zika and Chris Darden participated in the annual Elmore Park Middle School Career Fair. Over 800 sixth- through eighth-graders attended the event. Matt and Chris answered many questions concerning job opportunities and job-related experiences in the weather field. Severe weather preparedness and safety brochures were also handed out to students and teachers.
Inaugural Lightning Awareness Week: June 18-22, 2001. Here are some plans for the first Lightning Awareness Week:
- A Web site (www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov) is up and running.
- Each day has a theme with fact sheets which field offices can localize for your area.
- John Ogren (NWSH) will work with NOAA Public Affairs to get press releases, letters to the editor, and talking points.
- The Public Service Announcements with PGA Tour and Rocco Mediate will be available electronically via streaming video before the awareness week begins.
- Lightning safety posters with Rocco Mediate and Vijay Singh will be available via the Web page by June 18.
- A press conference at the PGA Tour Buick Classic is slated for June 19.
Tour for the Blind. WFO Jackson DAPM Bill Knight faced an unusual challenge when the Mississippi School for the Blind requested an office tour. He coordinated with a teacher prior to the tour and learned that success hinged on whether he could "make the students see in their minds" how the NWS conducts its operations. To do that, Bill arranged "touch tables" which contained many types of equipment, including rain gauges, balloons, an MMTS sensor, etc. The students were very excited to handle the items in the display. He also discussed weather safety rules, the NWS mission, and career opportunities. Bill reports it was a very uplifting experience and said he can't wait until the student's next visit.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATION
StormReady Update. Five more communities in the Southern Region were recognized in the past month as being StormReady, bringing the total in our region so far this fiscal year to 22. WFOs were recently asked to estimate how many additional designations would be made this year. The result: 60 to 75 more communities may be recognized from June through December. Congratulations to all offices on absolutely crushing one of this year's strategic goals!
FEMA Visits SRH for HurrEvac Training. FEMA Region VI hurricane program manager Chuck Gregg and Project Impact manager Kent Baxter visited SRH in late May to familiarize the staff regarding HurrEvac software. The SRH Regional Operations Center will begin using HurrEvac this hurricane season. HurrEvac was designed by FEMA to use National Hurricane Center information while tracking hurricanes. The versatile software, which also aids in evacuation decision-making, is limited to government users only.
Georgia Governor Severe Weather Conference. The conference was held at Jekyll Island, Georgia, early last month. Attendance was high at two StormReady workshops presented by WFO Atlanta MIC Lans Rothfusz and WCM Barry Gooden. Other Southern Region representatives from WFO Tallahassee, WFO Jacksonville, and SRH attended. WFO Jacksonville MIC Steve Letro participated in a press briefing at the conference regarding hurricane season readiness.
Florida Governor Hurricane Conference. This annual week-long conference was held in Tampa last month. It featured numerous training sessions and workshops, many of which included presentations by Southern Region personnel. Among the instructors were MICs Steve Letro (WFO Jacksonville), Rusty Pfost (WFO Miami), Bart Hagemeyer (WFO Melbourne), and Paul Duval (WFO Tallahassee), along with HIC John Feldt (Southeast RFC), WCM Jim Lushine (WFO Miami), and SOO Charlie Paxton (WFO Tampa Bay). Max Mayfield, Jack Beven, and Brian Jarvinen represented the National Hurricane Center. It was a very successful conference, and plans are already being made for next year's meeting (May 20-24, 2002).
Heroes in Bolivar County, Mississippi. WFO Jackson WCM Jim Butch had the honor of presenting the Bolivar County Emergency Operations Response Team with the NOAA Environmental Hero Award. Two television stations and two newspapers covered the presentation.
SE Louisiana Hurricane Task Force. WFO New Orleans MIC Paul Trotter and SOO Mike Koziara attended the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force meeting in May, along with representatives of numerous local and state agencies. Mike gave a presentation which focused on making sure all emergency managers had the latest version of HurrEvac2000 software. The WFO used HurrEvac2000 and Slosh for Windows during the state hurricane drill and for any further hurricane threats. Other points discussed included highway projects which will help increase the efficiency of evacuations.
Integrated Emergency Management Course for Sullivan County, Tennessee. Howard Waldron, WCM Morristown, attended a week long FEMA Integrated Emergency Management Course at Mt. Weather, Virginia. This course brings all the top people from a county together to discuss what emergency management problems an area may face in a disaster, and discuss how they can deal with them. Attendees included city officials, dispatchers, industry leaders, police/fire chiefs, and Sheriff's deputies. Howard gave an overview of NWS services and assisted in the two-day disaster exercise. This course is a great opportunity to work with many of the key people of a county.
MEDIA/PUBLIC/EXTERNAL CUSTOMER SUPPORT
High Tech Media Workshop. On May 17, WFO Albuquerque hosted a media workshop for high-end customers in the local area. All major television affiliates sent at least one representative. MIC Charlie Liles showed numerous slides of how products and services have improved since the modernization. He included verification statistics for thunderstorms and winter weather, as well as precipitation skill for over 111,000 forecasts. Charlie also gave attendees a preview of IFPS. Service hydrologist Ed Polasko and senior forecaster Chuck Jones showed off recent additions to the office home page, including the monthly summaries and precipitation graphics. WCM Keith Hayes discussed the changing culture of the warning process, including the warning team approach. SOO Deirdre Kann discussed recent model changes and also showed examples of how the locally run workstation-Eta can offer improvements over NCEP's larger-scale models for the local CWA.
Deep South Texas Media Workshop. WFO Brownsville staff members Rachel Gutierrez, Fred Vega, Paul Yura, Shawn Bennett and Hector Guerrero participated in the first Pre-Planning Hurricane Awareness Week Media Workshop hosted by KRGV-TV Channel 5 in Weslaco, Texas. Most of the major broadcast and English and Spanish print media attended, including experts from the Department of Public Safety, International Boundary and Water Commission, American Red Cross, and local emergency management. A major newspaper from Mexico, El Manana, was also represented. Hector facilitated the workshop and provided locally-developed themes for Hurricane Awareness Week. There was an excellent exchange of ideas and information from everyone. Fred, Rachel, Paul, and Scott Cordero prepared the handouts for the attendees. Paul presented information about critical Web links and NWS products. Shawn provided a presentation about impact forecasts developed by WFO Melbourne and a video prepared by WFO San Juan.
NOAA WEATHER RADIO NEWS.
New NWR Site. The Onalaska, Texas, NWR site was installed and completed on May 1. This NWR site was dedicated on May 30. Local area representatives and WFO Houston MIC Bill Read and WCM Gene Hafele, along with SRH NWR engineer T.L. Farrow, attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at Onalaska.
CRS News. CRS main processor replacement continued through May with installation across Southern Region completed by the end of the month. With CAFÉ CRS formatter installation also complete across the region, all future support for this formatter will be with the CAFÉ team at NWSH, Joel Nathan and Dave Glotfelty. The CAFÉ Web page is located at:
Voice Improvement Project (VIP) Update. The Voice Evaluation Team, led by Joanne Swanson, NWSH, and supported by SRH NWR program leader Tim Troutman, and WRH NWR program leader Craig Schmidt, will be involved in the focus group voice evaluations during June to determine which new voice systems will be acceptable to the public and other customers. Comments on the voices are still welcome at the Web page: www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/voicesamples.htm. Another link has been added to the NWSH NWR home page, giving a status report on the VIP (www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr/index.html). Please encourage the public and all warning partners to visit the Web page early and return often to learn about and comment on possible new voices as they appear, especially until early summer.
The voice(s) selection will likely be made during June. The CRS and voicing system hardware integration will be completed by the end of October, with site testing occurring during November and December. Deployment of the new voicing system to all WFOs is expected to be completed across the U.S. by late spring 2002.
NWR Mark Trail Award. On May 30, WFO Nashville MIC Derrel Martin presented, on behalf of the NWS, "The Mark Trail Award" to Tennessee Emergency Management Director (TEMA) John White at TEMA headquarters in Nashville. Local TV stations WSMV-TV Channel 4 (NBC) and WZTV-17 (FOX) were on hand for the presentation. WFO Knoxville/Tri-Cities MIC Jerry McDuffie and WFO Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian also took part in the presentation.
WCM RESOURCE CENTER. COMET's Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) Resource Center, which is part of MetEd, continues to grow with the addition of 15 entries in the last month. We encourage WCMs and others to utilize this on-line resource to locate and share information and materials. For example, Fort Worth WCM Gary Woodall submitted presentation materials from the spotter training and service assessments sessions of the WCM training course which was held at the NWSTC recently. Other entries include a brochure/poster on Special-Needs NOAA Weather Radio for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Individuals, submitted by WFO Norman WCM Jim Purpura. WFO Pocatello WCM Vernon Preston has posted presentations for storm spotters, concepts of severe weather safety, and career opportunities in NOAA and NWS, as well as seven StormReady posters, a lightning safety business card, and several other items he has developed to assist with his activities. To access these and many other submissions, visit http://meted.ucar.edu/resource/wcm/new_on_rc.htm.
HYDROLOGIC SERVICES BRANCH
HYDROLOGIC PRODUCT AND SERVICES. WFOs implemented the new daily River and Lake Summary products on May 30. HSB worked closely with the WFOs to ensure they met the product formatting requirements outlined in the recent OML to Operations Manual Chapter E-42. We also worked closely with NWSH Office of Services to ensure the products were properly defined in AWIPS and disseminated on the various NWS dissemination systems.
We continue to make progress on our efforts to implement a River Flood Watch text and associated graphical product. WFOs and RFCs have acquired feedback from key partners and customers on this product, and WFOs provided the RFCs with information from their hydrologic database which will be used to produce the River Flood Watch text product universal generic code header information. We submitted an RC to add some RFC products to AWIPS to support the RFW implementation. During June, we plan to develop policy for the new products, make any necessary adjustments to the graphical product based on customer feedback, and issue a public information statement notifying our customers about the RFW products. Our goal is to implement the River Flood Watch products during the summer.
We completed development activities associated with our RFC categorical flood forecast verification program, and conducted a verification training workshop at the Arkansas-Red Basin RFC for all the SR RFC verification focal points. A prototype SR RFC verification Web site, developed by ABRFC, is currently under review by CWWD staff and our regional RFC verification team. The target date for posting the first set of RFC quarterly performance metrics to this Web site is July 15.
In our efforts to make hydrologic information more accessible to partners and customers, we will discuss the implementing of a national one-stop shopping Web site for hydrologic information during next month's conference call with WSH and the regions. We plan to develop a one-stop Web site for our region pending the outcome of this conference call. We believe that such a Web site will be a major benefit to our partners and customers as well as to the NWS. This has already proven true with the RIVERWATCH Web site which provides only mainstem river forecasts in text form. We think a national effort similar to the radar Web pages or the planned national digital forecast database should be initiated as soon as feasible.
DROUGHT STATUS. Most severe drought conditions in our region are in the states of Florida and Georgia, however, drought conditions have progressively worsened along the Gulf coastal states. The long-term hydrologic drought dating back to the early 1990's along the lower Rio Grande also continues to worsen. An attached page this month graphically shows this.
We are entering the fourth summer of drought in Georgia. Heavy rain occurred the last week of May in northern and central Georgia which provided short-term relief to the wildfire threat in that area. However, we are still dealing with multi-year rainfall deficits across the state. Streamflows are extremely low with daily low-flow records being set on various rivers, especially in south Georgia. The low-flows in coastal Georgia are not good news for the shrimp and crab industries. Water restrictions for watering lawns remain in effect throughout the state. From May through October, soil moisture loss due to evaporation and transpiration is generally greater than rainfall. Given the summer outlook from CPC, conditions are expected to worsen during the next few months.
The Florida rainy season began in May and provided some short-term relief to the fire danger situation, especially over interior portions of southern and central Florida. At the end of May, most of the current large incident fires were occurring near the west coast, which did not benefit from the May rains. Since the beginning of this calendar year, 2898 fires statewide have scorched 266,289 acres. The last two weeks of May, 356 fires burned 79,722 acres. Since January 1, this year the largest rainfall deficits occurred in the northern half of the state and ranged from 4-8 inches below normal.
The drought situation worsened in the Florida Panhandle with long-term hydrologic drought continuing and streamflows 10-24% of normal for this time of year. The rainfall deficits are also impacting hay, peanut, and cotton crops. Water management districts are urging residents to limit water usage and practice conservation efforts.
The long-term hydrologic drought continues to worsen along the lower Rio Grande in Texas. According to the International Boundary and Water Commission, water no longer flows from the Rio Grande to the Gulf of Mexico. The river bed is dry up to 350 feet upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. Reservoir storage for the U.S. portion of Amistad Dam is 61% of conservation capacity and 17.5% of conservation capacity at Falcon Dam. Mexico currently owes the U.S. (i.e., Texas) over one million acre-feet of water - roughly the equivalent of Florida's Lake Okeechobee.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
A mixture of flooding and drought continued across the region during April. Extremely dry conditions continued across portions of central and south Florida. Tampa International Airport recorded the third driest April on record, dating back to 1890. Several forecast points in the Tampa HSA recorded record low stream flows, and many observing sites in the Tampa HSA had well below a half inch of rain for the month.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Jackson and Birmingham HSAs recorded heavy rains which produced significant flooding. Over 300 homes and businesses were damaged in the Jackson HSA as a result of a 10-inch rainfall. Flooding in the Birmingham HSA was not nearly as damaging but one forecast point had a crest in excess of 9 ft above flood stage.
NATIONAL HYDROLOGIC WARNING COUNCIL CONFERENCE. The NHWC Conference was held in Columbus, Ohio in mid-May. The conference was well attended by the NWS, with several attendees giving presentations. Things are moving forward with the high data rate GOES transmitters now being offered by several vendors. The new transmitters will take us from 100 baud transmissions to a 300 and 1200 baud data rate. These higher speeds will eventually allow for more sites to come onboard with hourly transmissions of hydrologic data.
ASCE PRESENTATION. Suzanne Van Cooten (WFO New Orleans Area) presented a poster at a meeting of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Environmental and Water Resources Institute's (EWRI) World Water and Environmental Resources Congress, which was held in Orlando last month. Suzanne's study is titled "Statistical Differences in Rainfall within the Lake Pontchartrain Basin," and was co-authored with professors Donald Barbe', J. Alex McCorquodale, and Gianna Cauthron, from the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department of the University of New Orleans. The paper presents results of a statistical study of rainfall stations within the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and demonstrates a statistical difference exists between average monthly rainfall reported at northshore and southshore locations. It also describes statistical methods used to detect the existence of microclimates within a prescribed area.
This study provided Suzanne with an excellent opportunity to work with UNO faculty members and benefit from their research expertise and knowledge to produce a study which can have a positive impact on WFO forecast operations. Suzanne will share results of her work with the office staff in future seminars and explore opportunities for continued cooperative partnerships and applied research in the future.
WARNING ENVIRONMENT SIMULATOR. This is what we're now calling the "displaced real time" (DRT) AWIPS training workstation which has been under development for some time at Norman. The Warning Environment Simulator (WES) has been designated a high priority training initiative because it will allow forecasters to train on-site using case study scenarios such as have been incorporated into the Warning Decision Making workshops which have been taught at COMET for the past several years (and which will continue next year). Offices will also have the capability to archive AWIPS data, develop their own scenarios, and share them with others. The WES software includes LINUX versions of D2D, WARNGEN and the AWIPS product notification server. Other applications such as SCAN and WWA may be added later.
Working together, Mike Foster, David Andra and others at WFO Norman, and staffs of the Forecast Systems Laboratory and the Warning Decision Training Branch (formerly the OSF/OTB), have completed software development and are ready to release it to the regions for field implementation. The NWS corporate board endorsed this project and provided funds to acquire the necessary workstations.
SSD will be the initial point of support for the WES software and workstations, with additional support provided by the national SOO-SAC coordinator and the WDTB. SSD will install a WES workstation at SRH this month to test and evaluate the Norman prototype. Meanwhile, we have ordered the necessary Informix user licenses for all offices and are awaiting approval (and funding) from NWS Headquarters to purchase the LINUX workstations. The latter has been delayed pending resolution of issues related to the cap which has been imposed on hardware purchases. Offices interested in installing the WES software on an existing LINUX computer should contact Bernard Meisner in SSD.
NCEP BACKUP TEST. The quarterly test of backup processing for NCEP computer operations is planned for the week of June 18. This exercise will be very similar to the test performed earlier this year on February 6. During the test, the Air Force Weather Agency MM5 will replace the 1200 UTC Eta, the U.S. Navy NOGAPS will replace the 1200 UTC AVN, and the FSL RUC will replace a few cycles of the NCEP RUC. More details will be provided as they become known.
IMPACT ON MOS GUIDANCE OF RECENT CHANGES TO THE AVN/MRF MODEL. The NCEP's Global Spectral Model, run as the AVN and MRF, was upgraded on May 15. The Meteorological Development Laboratory analyzed the potential impact of these changes to the AVN- and MRF-based MOS guidance. Links to the MDL comments and their CAFTI presentation, are available through the AVN and MRF links on SSD's NWP Links Web page: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ssd/nwpmodel/html/nwplinks.htm.
The bottom line, according to MDL's Paul Dallavalle: The samples were small, and MDL is reluctant to say the MOS guidance will be less (or more) accurate now that the AVN/MRF model has changed. However, MDL suspects the temperature guidance, particularly during the warmer part of the day, will tend to be slightly cooler than last warm season. The dew point temperature guidance will be slightly drier. If the MDL test results hold up on a larger sample, the PoPs in the warm season will tend to be slightly less accurate, but may be better in the cool season.
MESO-ETA SPRING CHANGES TO BE MADE JUNE 26. The spring change package of the Meso-Eta (Eta-22) is scheduled for implementation on June 26, pending CAFTI approval. The package includes a new 3-D Variational Analysis (3DVAR) code which has been retuned, the assimilation of observed precipitation, and upgrades to the land-surface physics package in the model.
The upgrade of the Meso Eta made in September included a new parallel 3DVAR analysis code which used satellite radiances directly. At that time, NCEP promised to retune this code for the warm season because it had produced less than expected improvements during its testing last summer (although subjective evaluators were pleased overall). Since then, NCEP scientists have compared the AVN and Meso Eta 3DVAR techniques and identified the major difference to be the more general form of balance constraint used in the AVN. Dave Parrish reworked the 3DVAR code to include a more general balance constraint and it is this version which has been retuned for both warm and cold seasons.
The assimilation of observed precipitation is a form of nudging applied during the three hour Meso Eta forecasts which occur between analyses in the Eta Data Assimilation System (there are four covering the 12-hr pre-forecast data assimilation period). At each time step and at each point where an observed precipitation amount is available, the observed and forecast precipitation are compared. The model's temperature, moisture, cloudiness and precipitation are mutually adjusted to produce a forecast value closer to the observed value. The observed values come from the Stage IV hourly precipitation analyses (simple box average) for the CONUS derived from 2500 automatic reporting gages and the hourly precipitation estimates from the WSR-88D radars. This technique produces initial precipitation rates which match those observed and also ensures that the soil moisture (coupled to the model precipitation through the land-surface physics package) evolves with the observed precipitation. The soil moisture, in turn, is very important in the evolution of the boundary layer during the forecast.
The third component of the package involves a set of upgrades to the land-surface physics package. These deal with improvements to cold season processes (for patchy snow plus frozen soil and snow density/snow depth as new state variables), to bare soil evaporation, surface characterization and vegetation and soil heat flux. The goal of these changes is to reduce biases (seasonal, regional and diurnal) primarily occurring in surface fields of temperature, wind and moisture.
Each of the three components of the change package have undergone testing in full resolution 22km retrospective parallel systems for periods of 30 days in February, 2001 and August-September, 2000. In addition, each has been tested in real-time parallel runs at either 48km or 22km resolution during the last several months. These results have been available for review at the NCEP parallel Eta Web page
A major upgrade of the Meso Eta system from 22km/50 levels to 12km/60 levels is still scheduled for November. The Real-Time Test and Evaluation implementation of the 84-hr extension occurred on April 17 and plans are underway to add data sets from these runs to the AWIPS Satellite Broadcast Network (NOAAPORT).
VIEWING WORKSTATION ETA AND 10KM ETA "THREATS" RUNS ON AWIPS. Ken Waters (SSD) has distributed instructions on how to ingest and view Workstation Eta output on AWIPS. Bernard Meisner (SSD) has distributed supplemental grid information for also viewing the 10 km nested Eta "THREATS" runs on AWIPS. Edited output from the Eastern and Central "Threats" runs, in GRIB format, are available on the regional model output server. The edited files contain all the surface, MSL, boundary layer and 1000 mb fields, plus forecast storm motion, helicity and lifted indices. The "THREATS" runs are made once daily.
MRF THUNDERSTORM GUIDANCE. Effective with the 0000 UTC forecast cycle on May 9, guidance for the probability of thunderstorms was added to the MRF MOS messages. These messages are identified with WMO headers FEPA20, FEUS21-FEUS26, and FEAK37-FEAK39, and are stored as MEX products in the AWIPS text data base. The probability of thunderstorm guidance provides forecasts of the probability of a thunderstorm in a 12- or 24-hr period. Because the thunderstorm guidance was developed from lightning strike data from the National Lightning Detection Network (provided by NASA's Global Hydrology Resource Center), guidance is only provided for sites in the contiguous U.S. The 12-hr probabilities labeled as T12 are valid for periods of 12-24, 24-36, 36-48, ..., 180-192 hrs after 0000 UTC. The 24-hr probabilities are labeled as T24 and are valid 12-36, 36-60, 60-84, 84-108, 108-132, 132-156, and 156-180 hrs after 0000 UTC. More details on the guidance may be found at the following Web sites:
Please note the techniques used in developing the MRF MOS thunderstorm guidance are analogous to those used in developing the thunderstorm guidance from the AVN model.
END OF THE DIFAX ERA. The NWS discontinued its Family of Services (FOS) digital facsimile (DIFAX) service effective 1200 UTC April 30, 2001. The FOS DIFAX service is no longer required to support NWS operations. Similar products are available in modern formats on other dissemination services, such as the World Wide Web (e.g., http://weather.noaa.gov/fax/graph.shtml).
NSSL TORNADO ALGORITHM GROUND TRUTH PROJECT. The National Severe Storms Laboratory has announced the release of the NSSL Tornado Ground Truth Project Web application for scoring the Mesocyclone Detection Algorithm (MDA) and the Tornado Detection Algorithm (TDA) output from local data sets. The URL is http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/truth .
New users to this application should register using the link provided. This page is designed for NWS forecasters and other interested parties to:
1. Understand the process of WSR-88D mesocyclone and tornado algorithm verification.
2. Enter case studies containing WSR-88D algorithm data and ground truth information using a common format. The format is similar to that used by NSSL researchers in evaluating algorithm performance and for the development of algorithm statistics for the NWS Tornado Warning Guidance.
3. Develop local data sets for office county warning areas, to aid in the understanding of storms for various geographic regions, and to help office's develop local adaptable parameters for the algorithms.
4. Participate in the development of a nationwide data repository at NSSL to aid researchers in understanding nationwide, regional, seasonal, and storm type climatologies of severe storms and algorithm performance.
The NSSL Tornado Ground Truth Project is designed to process radar data from tornado events using the NSSL experimental MDA and TDA algorithms which are available on WATADS. This software allows users to follow a step-by-step process to produce their own case(s). NSSL welcomes comments.
NEW DEPARTMENT CHAIRMAN AT FSU. Prof. Robert Ellingson will be joining the faculty at Florida State University and has accepted the post of chairman of the Department of Meteorology. Dr. Ellingson is presently Professor of Meteorology and Associate Director of the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center at the University of Maryland. He has also served as Director of the Cooperative Institute for Climate Studies, a joint NOAA- University Institute within the Department of Meteorology at Maryland. Dr. Ellingson earned his PhD at FSU in 1972. He will assume his new position there next January.
SUMMER WEATHER SEMINAR. In conjunction with the meteorology program at Jackson State University, WFO Jackson hosted a one-day Summer Weather Seminar last month. There were 13 attendees, including staff from WFOs Jackson, Birmingham and Mobile, the Lower Mississippi RFC, and Jackson State. The featured speaker was Dr. Jiann-Gwo Jiing, Chief of the Technical Support Branch at the Tropical Prediction Center/NHC. Dr. Jiing presented talks on tropical analysis and forecasting, hurricane track prediction, and hurricane intensity forecasting. Additionally, WFO Mobile SOO Jeff Medlin presented a talk based on his thesis work on mesocyclones associated with Hurricane Opal; and Alan Gerard, SOO at WFO Jackson, gave a presentation on wet microburst forecast and warning techniques.
AWIPS SYMPOSIUM. Southern Region SOOs Alan Gerard (WFO Jackson) and Pat Welsh (WFO Jacksonville) are members of the NWA Weather Analysis and Forecasting Committee, and as such are involved with planning for the Interactive Symposium on AWIPS, which will be held next January 13-18 in Orlando. The symposium will be part of the AMS Annual Meeting, and is being co-sponsored by the AMS, NWA, and NWS as a forum to provide communication and networking regarding AWIPS-related activities in the operational environment. Papers and presentations are being solicited in the following areas:
- Overview of AWIPS
- Data Handling
- Local Modeling
- Internet/Web Opportunities and Challenges
- Operational Meteorological and Hydrological Applications
- Specialized Uses
- Interactive Forecast Preparation System (IFPS)
- Locally Written Applications
- Education and Training
In addition, arrangements are being made to allow demonstrations of local applications and presentations of case studies on AWIPS Unix and Linux machines at the symposium. Please see the announcement attached to this month's Topics. The deadline for abstracts for the symposium is July 6, 2001. Additional information may be found on the AMS and NWA Web sites(http://www.ametsoc.org/AMS/ and http://www.nwas.org).
NWA ANNUAL MEETING - CALL FOR ABSTRACTS. Program chairman Ron Miller, WFO Spokane, asked us to remind anyone interested in submitting an abstract for the National Weather Association Annual Meeting that the deadline has arrived. Regardless, an email to Ron will probably buy a little extra time if you're interested, but missed the June 1 deadline. The meeting will be held in Spokane, Washington on October 15-19. More information can be found on the NWA Web site (http://www.nwas.org).
NEW COMET CASE STUDY - SAN ANTONIO AREA FLOOD OF 1998. COMET has announced release of Case Study #35: The San Antonio Area Flood of October 17-18, 1998. Over that weekend heavy rain in south and southeast Texas brought 20-30 inches of rain to the San Antonio area, resulting in flash flooding from San Antonio to Austin, followed by record-breaking river flooding along several south Texas rivers in the days that followed. Thirty-one people drowned during the flooding. This case was presented in the COMAP SOO Symposia on Heavy Precipitation and Flash Flood Forecasting last year, and the RFC/HPC Hydrometeorology Course taught at COMET. More information about this case may be found by visiting: http://www.comet.ucar.edu/resources/cases/c35_17oct98/. COMET's case study library now contains 17 cases available in AWIPS format.
SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION
AWIPS. Several sites in Southern Region have received the hardware for the data server upgrade of memory and CPUs. Most sites are seeing an improvement of text storage and better performance. The workstations seem to call up text products faster, but when running SCAN or FFMP the workstation becomes overloaded and stops performing. Several sites are also still reporting that the FFMP and SCAN processors on the application server (AS) are causing problems during active weather. This is a reminder that during active weather it is recommended to disable SCAN and FFMP on the AS. Instructions on how to disable SCAN and FFMP can be found at: http://srhawips.srh.noaa.gov/DisableSCAN.html.
AWIPS maintenance patch 5.0.3 is being installed at all sites over the next couple of weeks, which includes 11 patches to Build 5.0, including the IFPS 5.0 patch. PRC will contact each office via email when the patch has been uploaded to your site. Most sites which have installed the patch say it helps system performance. Part of this patch includes an Informix performance update. The following patches are included with 5.0.3.
(1) Cleanup /var/tmp on each workstation (DR# 7612)
(2) Update Informix parameters (DR# 7766)
(3) Update OmniBack configuration files (DR# 6630)
(4) Fix routerStoreText process for LDAD (DR# 7338)
(5) Disable Execution of sfc_qc.exe in LAPS (DR# 7796)
(6) Install Shapefile patch (DR# 7514 - P50_MDL_A100113)
(7) Install Flash Flood Guidance patch (DR# 7704 - P50_FSL_A100114)
(8) Fix link to AWIPS User Manual (DR# 7590 - P50_SEC_100108)
(9) Fix error handling in MakeSUMMpage (DR# 7505 - P50_SEC_100112)
(10) Disable "fxa" cron on all workstations (DR# 8108)
(11) Install R5.0 IFPS patch (P50_MDL_A100109) - For R5.0 IFPS sites only
The BETA install of Build 5.1.1 was performed at SRH last month. A couple of problems were noted, prompting a postponement of the other BETA sites. The first problem is that the notification server on the AS has a memory leak and has to be restarted every two to three days. Until this is fixed, Build 5.1.1 will be on hold. Any site with a CWSU connection cannot install build 5.1.1 as the CWSUs no longer receive data, which is another reason for a hold on the installation.
Paul Kirkwood, (SOD), AWIPS program manager at SRH, has written scripts to aid in the installation of approved Linux systems to the AWIPS WAN running under RedHat 7.0. These scripts will automate the process of adding the workstations to AWIPS. Scripts have been written to install the Linux D2D software as well as the Linux version of GFE.
IT STAFF CHANGES IN SOD. James Raley has transferred from SOD to the IT position at WFO Brownsville. James had been at SRH since 1998 and worked on several projects including BUD Forms, e-mail, security and FTP servers. We will miss him and his knowledge and expertise in these areas, but not to worry, we have an able replacement. Please join us in welcoming Don Pham to SOD. Don is a recent computer engineering graduate from the University of Texas at Arlington. He has worked as a SCEP since May 2000 and will be taking on several of James's former duties.
NEMS. This is a reminder that everyone should read section 3 of the NOAA Enterprise Messaging System (NEMS) Policy and Guidelines document. The recently updated page, available to NOAA hosts only, is available online at http://docs.nems.noaa.gov/nemsguidelines.html. Section 3 "GUIDELINES FOR GENERAL USE" of this document is also included as an attachment to this issue of Topics.
ACROBAT 5.0 AVAILABLE. The upgrade version of Adobe Acrobat 5.0 is now available. CD-ROMs will be sent to each office. Please remember each WFO and RFC are allowed two full licensed versions of the software, all other offices in Southern Region are allowed one. If your office does not receive a copy of the CD by June 15, please contact Don Pham (SOD).
NOAA WEATHER RADIO. This month has been very busy in the region's NWR program. A fire at our host site, the ETV studios near Huntsville, Alabama, caused extensive damage to the building, their equipment and our NWR transmitter there. Fortunately no one was injured, but all the transmitters were damaged. ETV brought in a temporary building which allowed us to install a 100-watt system to get NWR back on the air. We will be installing a new 1000-watt system shortly, as soon as the temporary building is ready to receive it.
The Macon, Georgia, NWR was refurbished in May. A new antenna was installed along with the associated cabling. These improvements have lead to a larger coverage pattern and better reception of the signal over the northern part of Bibb County.
In Texas, a new dual 1000-watt transmitter in Onalaska was installed. This site in now in its 30-day testing period and should be on line by mid-June. Three other prospective sites for NWR were visited in Texas last month; one in Stephenville, one in Greenville and one in Upshur. We will be working with the local authorities to move forward on these locations.
In Chattanooga, our new NWR building was installed and the transmitter was relocated to its new home.
WSR-88D. Please join us in welcoming Joe Villescaz to SRH and SOD. Joe comes from WFO Austin/San Antonio and will be the Regional System Specialist for WSR-88D, CRS, ERMS, and wind profiler. He will be reporting to the office on June 19.
We had several significant WSR-88D outages last month. At WFO Little Rock the bull gear failed on May 8. The Radar Operations Center in Norman set up and coordinated a team to effect repairs as quickly as possible. The team included members from Hill AFB, the Radar Operations Center, and WFO Little Rock. The radar was restored to service on May 23.
At WFO Shreveport a lightning strike damaged the digital/analog cards, VCIC/V cards, and wideband driver cards in both the RDA and RPG.
At WFO Lubbock a nearby lightning strike caused extensive damage. The electrical surge damaged the new static UPS system and entered into the RDA, damaging the main concurrent computer, digital/analog cards, low noise amplifier, power supply, receiver front end, and antenna temperature probe. Once again, repairs were effected quickly.
At Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas, downburst winds on May 24 did significant damage to the radome of the KDFX WSR-88D. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so please see the photo attached to this month's Topics. It is estimated the wind which did this damage was in the range of 80-85 kt. The radar will be down for quite a while, as the radome and antenna will have to be completely removed. A new radome is being acquired, which may take as long as several months.
OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH
ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS. Nineteen Mitsubishi uninterruptible power supply (UPS) units have been installed to-date. WFO Austin/San Antonio is scheduled to receive a new unit this summer. Funding to continue scheduled replacement of five more units this fiscal year is being sought.
SOUTHERN REGION TPMs. Replacement of the Rotary Transition Power Source (TPS) with the PowerWare Static UPS in Atlanta, Birmingham, and Albuquerque is scheduled for this month. Memphis will receive its replacement UPS in July 2001. Thirteen of the 33 Southern Region systems have been installed to-date.
RADIOSONDE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM. Site drawing verification for the Radiosonde Replacement System is underway at the 23 upper air sites in the Southern Region. Detailed information includes location of existing upper air inflation buildings, communication/power run conduits and distances. The data will allow prospective bidders to prepare a fixed price proposal for the installation of the Telemetry Receiver System at all CONUS upper air sites. Work will include removal of the existing ART system.
HOUSTON/GALVESTON PROJECT. On May 15 project design meetings for the new Galveston County Emergency Services Facility (GCEOC) with the design firm, county officials, and NWS personnel were held at WFO Houston. Preliminary discussions surrounded space and configuration requirements for the new facility, including joint use and common areas. A preliminary design including floor plans and elevations will be presented in June for review and comments. Other Galveston County emergency service organizations are interested in joining now that the project is a "go," which may expand the scope of the building if the project budget can support the additional requirements.
TALLAHASSEE PROJECT. A team from WFO Tallahassee and SRH is being assembled to plan and coordinate the move of the forecast office into the new facility on the campus of Florida State University. The new office is tentatively scheduled for completion in January 2002.
ASOS ELECTRICAL SAFETY ISSUE. The discovery of a missing ground wire which connects the neutral and ground phases at the ASOS transformer caused an NWS employee in Fort Worth to be exposed to a 60-volt shock. This may be a nation-wide problem since the wiring was done through a national contract, and a message summarizing the problem was sent to ESAs and safety focal points. Two of the 12 ASOS sites in the Fort Worth-Dallas CWA had this problem, including one which was inspected and accepted by the government.
FORT WORTH WFO/RFC INDOOR AIR QUALITY. Following concerns expressed by some NWS employees, the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) was asked to perform an indoor air quality examination at the WFO/RFC Fort Worth. The site was tested by PHS for CO2, CO, moisture and organics, with no sign of any contaminants. A report will be made available to both employees and management.
REGION-WIDE SAFETY PURCHASES. Purchases of safety materials has continued with the SR safety focal points being directed to make a list of all planned purchases, countersigned by the MIC and focal point for each site. Items considered for purchase include personal protective equipment such as electrical safety shoes for ETs, as well as safety glasses, gloves, hard hats, signs, and eyewash units and storage cabinets for flammable materials, which will be purchased by SRH.
NOAA WEATHER RADIO PUBLICITY. The NWR program in the Arlington/Fort Worth area received some unexpected publicity when Fort Worth Star-Telegram columnist O. K. Carter devoted 22 column-inches to the NOAA Weather Radio operating features. The NWR article resulted from SRH employee T. E. Brisbin writing a letter to the editor in response to an article on storm warnings, following a tornado in nearby Mansfield, on May 4.
THOMAS JEFFERSON AND JOHN COMPANIOUS HOLM AWARDS. On May 21, the National Weather Service announced the 2001 Thomas Jefferson and John Companious Holm award recipients. Of the four Southern Region volunteer observers nominated, all received Thomas Jefferson Awards and six out of the eight observers nominated received the John Companious Holm Award. Ceremonies to present the Jefferson and Holm awards, the highest awards presented to the volunteer observers, will be done locally by the nominating WFO MIC and DAPM after the certificates are received in late fall/early winter.
EXCEPTIONAL PERFORMANCE. Fifteen Southern Region WFOs provided 100 percent cooperative program data to NCDC on time for publication in the Climatological Data (CD) and Hourly Precipitation Data (HPD) over the past year. Those offices exceeded the goals of 99 percent and 98 percent, respectively. This outstanding accomplishment is a reflection of the data acquisition team's commitment to excellence at the offices, which are:
New Orleans Area
Tampa Bay Area
NEXRAD PUP DECOMMISSIONINGS. Southern Region has expedited the procedure for the decommissioning of surplus NEXRAD PUPs, following guidance from NWSH. Thus far, PUPs have been decommissioned and removed from three RFCs and the NASA Spaceflight Meteorology Group in Houston. WFOs with secondary PUPs will be decommissioned and removed next, based on the wishes of local managers.
SURFACE OBSERVATION PROGRAM. Southern Region received 37 requests from the aviation community for new certificates, cancellations or changes in the type of surface certificates during May.
We recently completed office reviews at WFOs Lubbock, Houston/Galveston and Austin/San Antonio. A few minor areas of concern were noted in the surface program involving station history and documentation for current office locations and some of the second order stations.
UPPER-AIR OBSERVATION PROGRAM. Several more Southern Region offices began to send their upper air archive data to NCDC via e-mail last month. Currently 83 percent of the upper air sites in Southern Region are now using this new process. The remaining upper air sites are on track to accomplish this by end of this month. This method of data transmission has reduced the problems NCDC has experienced with the 5.25 inch floppy disks. The goal is to have all offices using this method by October.
Last month's Southern Region upper air rankings were excellent. Seventeen of the 23 offices received scores above the national average. The national average is 286.32 with a perfect score being 300. Fourteen of the upper air site rankings were 291.21 or above. The offices with the excellent upper air rankings for the past month ranged from an almost perfect 299.39 at WFO Fort Worth, to an excellent 287.14 at WFO Midland. With worn out equipment in the field and the lack of parts, this shows how hard work and dedication to a program continues to bring out the best.
ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION
DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
WFO BROWNSVILLE. HMT Fred Vega and DAPM Jim Campbell participated in the Castenada Elementary Career Day. Two hundred and fifty third, fourth and fifth grade students attended the three-hour event. The students asked many questions about weather ranging from general thunderstorms to hurricanes. As usual, the tornado in a bottle was a big hit, as well as the tornado video. Fred conducted a couple of student interviews in Spanish.
Senior forecaster Tim Speece and HMT Tony Abbott provided tours for approximately 175 students. Tony discussed balloon launches with the fourth grade students and Tim showed the operations area to the students and discussed hurricane safety and NWS operations - highlighting the inland flooding threat.
In early May, SOO Shawn Bennett worked with some Los Fresnos High School students in their mentorship program. Students had the opportunity to shadow WFO forecasters for half a day.
Tony Abbott, HMT Sam Martinez and WCM Hector Guerrero provided tours to about 75 Faity Academy and Skinner Elementary fourth graders. Sam and Tony provided a tour of the upper air facilities and discussed the weather balloon with them. Hector showed the children the difference between supercell damage and hurricane damage. Hector highlighted the inland flooding risk to these students.
Fred Vega, senior forecaster Scott Cordero, and Tim Speece toured 20 high school students from Century Tech which is an alternative school for troubled teens. Scott gave a presentation on hurricane safety, and Fred and Scott released a weather balloon. The students asked lots of questions and even took lots of pictures.
ASA Rachel Gutierrez represented the WFO at a graduation ceremony for the Laguna Madre Leadership Program at South Padre Island. This event was sponsored by the South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce. The guest speaker was the president of the Military Marine Academy in Harlingen, Texas. He spoke on the importance of leadership which involves the entire community working together, and being a good role model. Clearly, the Brownsville WFO staff is that.
WFO NEW ORLEANS/BATON ROUGE. The WFO was an active participant in the annual Public Service Recognition Week activities in May hosted by the New Orleans Federal Executive Board. Senior forecaster Robert Ricks was an instrumental player; using limited resources, he successfully assisted and led an office team of forecaster Freddie Zeigler, HMT Gary Vaughan, WCM Frank Revitte, and senior forecaster Alan Johnson, as mall exhibitors. In addition to the mall exhibits, Robert aided in the planning and development during PSRW committee proceedings. Never before had the New Orleans FEB undertaken so many events to showcase how the federal government helps each American citizen. Among the activities were two separate mall exhibit days (in Slidell and in Metairie); a concurrent Faith-Based Community Symposium on Tuesday at the University of New Orleans; a Recognition Awards Luncheon on Wednesday in downtown New Orleans; and employee day outing at the JazzLand Theme Park on Saturday; finally closing with a Sunday afternoon Zephyrs baseball game. This was coupled with two interviews on the local Public Cable Access Television's, "Stars over the East" and on local CBS affiliate WWL-TV4, "Perspective in Black," featuring PSRW chairperson, Linda Simmons and New Orleans FEB chair, WFO MIC Paul Trotter. The mall activities presented a great deal of NWS exposure to the general public and other officials of various federal agencies. The Zephyrs baseball game was graced with the ceremonial opening pitch "tossed" by Paul Trotter.
WFO TALLAHASSEE. Senior forecaster and EEO focal point Ron Block lectured in Spanish on careers in meteorology at the Cinco De Mayo festival in Quincy, Florida. He also discussed meteorology at the Salute to Black Achievers Awards Program in Tallahassee. NWS literature was disseminated at Emancipation Day celebrations which recognizes Florida's black history, and at the Tallahassee Race Relations Summit where a workshop focused on disparities in public employment. Ron also interfaced with mariners at the North Florida boat show.
Ron and WCM Bob Goree represented WFO Tallahassee at the Hurricane Safety Show at Tallahassee Mall where they interacted with many users on upcoming hurricane possibilities and preparedness. Bob's Hurricane Challenge Quiz Game debuted there testing the knowledge of children of all ages. Bob also discussed NWS operations and weather safety at Crawfordville, Florida Elementary School and with the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. MIC Paul Duval discussed weather safety at Bond Elementary School.
FSU meteorology student Stephanie Kolbus and high school senior Jessica Leff completed their projects which included shadowing the forecasters, co-writing some products and preparing journals and/or posters to document their experience.
RFC TULSA. Hydrologist Kandis Boyd conducted a diversity exercise at the monthly ABRFC staff meeting.
Diversity co-focal points Greg Stanley and Kandis Boyd continue to update the ABRFC diversity board on a monthly basis.
The ABRFC ordered & received videos, "Flood Warning Systems," one in Spanish and one in English.
Senior hydrologist Greg Stanley conducted a diversity seminar for the ABRFC and the Tulsa WFO. Employees viewed the video entitled, "Blue Eyes" in which retired educator Jane Elliot discussed the effects of racism and sexism in today's society.
HAS forecaster Larry Lowe and hydrologist Kandis Boyd participated in a joint WFO-RFC office tour for Leisure Park fourth grade students. About 40 students of various backgrounds were in attendance. Some of the students were hearing impaired. Senior HAS forecaster James Paul gave a weather forecasting and severe weather safety talk to Leisure Park elementary kindergarten class. Kandis also participated in an RFC/WFO joint tour for Wilburton Middle School. About 40 students of various backgrounds were in attendance.
Hydrologist Jeff McMurphy gave a weather presentation to Bailey Elementary. Approximately 120 second and third grade students of various backgrounds were in attendance.
STUDENTS AT WORK. Jackson State University is using funds from a NOAA Grant to sponsor three of its undergraduate meteorology students this summer at three Southern Region WFOs--Little Rock, Shreveport, and Memphis. These students have worked through the JSU meteorology program in concert with the Jackson WFO from January through April of this year. Their work was operations-oriented and included professional development, training, and service hours each week at the WFO and in the JSU weather lab. They were involved with surface and upper air observations, severe weather reporting/recording and survey, the forecast process, and self-study through COMET modules. During June and July, each student will be working on a research project focusing on convective activity as related to his or her assigned office's operations and forecasting. Preliminary results of their projects will be prepared in the form of an abstract, preprint, and oral/poster presentation.
The students are expected to follow-up their summer work experiences with WFO Jackson and their host summer offices during the fall semester, and finalizing their abstracts, preprints, and poster/oral presentations. It is anticipated the students will be attending the NWA meeting in October.
Kudos to WFO Jackson and especially SOO Alan Gerard for working with JSU meteorology program coordinator Paul Croft in setting up this program; and MICs Renee Fair, Lee Harrison, and Jim Duke and their staffs for hosting and mentoring the students this summer.
WFO MIAMI. HMT Bob Ebaugh and student employee Zach Brown teamed up with the Tropical Prediction Center and NOAA's AOML to give a lightning/severe weather/hurricane safety presentation at Hartner Elementary, a Miami inner-city school. The team made a 45 minute presentation for five classes of 50-plus students each.
Bob Ebaugh has also been busy with presentations to predominantly minority students at Jose Marti Middle School in Hialeah, Dante Fascell Elementary in Miami, the Berkshire School in Homestead, and Vineland Elementary in Miami. Bob estimates he made presentations to around 1,000 students.
WFO SHREVEPORT. The WFO is playing host to two meteorology students this summer. Kim Coleman, a student at Jackson State University, is being sponsored through a NOAA grant to the university. Bryan Warning from the University of Louisiana at Monroe is being sponsored through the ORISE program.
Forecaster Patrick Omundson gave a talk to the eighth grade science class at Cope Middle School in Bossier City. Pat discussed the operations of the NWS as well as careers with the NWS. HMT Steve Griffin gave a talk to the Red River Research Station located in Bossier City. Steve discussed the NWS cooperative program, the operations of the NWS and the future of the NWS cooperative program.
SOUTHERN REGION WORKFORCE TRANSACTIONS
May 1 - 31, 2001
|Southern Region Losses|
|Name||From (Office)||Action/Transfer||From Title/Grade|
|Kristen Craven||WFO EYW||Promotion to CR||Met Intern, GS-9|
|Kenneth Ziegenbein||WFO LZK||Retirement||Senior Forecaster, GS-13|
|Brian Brong||WFO CRP||Promotion to WR||Met Intern, GS-9|
|Daniel Spaeth||WFO TSA||Promotion to CR||Forecaster, GS-12|
|Ray Sondag||WFO LCH||Transfer to AWC||Senior Forecaster, GS-13|
|Priscilla Bridenstine||WFO JAN||Reassignment to CR||Met Intern, GS-7|
|Southern Region Gains|
|Name||To (Office)||Action/Transfer||To Title/Grade|
|James Lane||WFO CRP||Reassignment from ER||ITO, GS-13|
|William South||WFO EYW||Reassignment from WR||Forecaster, GS-12|
|Christopher Holguin||WFO SJT||Reassignment from CR||Forecaster, GS-12|
|Eric Platt||WFO AMA||Reassignment from WR||Forecaster, GS-12|
|Teresa DeLand||FAA OKC||New Hire||ASA, GS-6|
|Patricia Schmidt||WFO EYW||Promotion from ER||ITO, GS-11|
|Don Pham||SRH SOD||New Hire from SCEP||Computer Specialist, GS-5|
|Within Region Transfers/Actions|
|Name||To (Office)||Action/Transfer||To Title/Grade|
|James Raley||WFO BRO||Promotion from SRH||ITO, GS-13|
|Dean Klimt||WFO LZK||Promotion from OHX||ESA, GS-13|
|Mickey McGuire||WFO BRO||Promotion from TSA||Forecaster, GS-9|
|Eric Carpenter||WFO JAN||Promotion from JAN||Senior Forecaster, GS-13|
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