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

June 1, 1996

SOUTHERN TOPICS


REGIONAL DIRECTOR

TREMENDOUS ACTIVITY LEVEL IN SOUTHERN REGION. It has been awhile since I have had a chance to contribute to Southern Topics. Travel has been extremely active; so without much elaboration, I shall summarize some recent road trips.

The spring Regional Directors conference was held in Atlanta. Appreciation goes to Carlos Garza and his staff for making local arrangements to host the conference. The attendees also visited the NWSFO and viewed where the Olympics forecast facilities will be housed. All were impressed with the preparation for the games.

Steven Cooper (MSD) and I visited offices at Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, and Morristown for the purpose of listening to ideas from staff members about how to best provide service to this country from the modernized NWS offices. Offices now have much of the modern technology available to them. The challenge to our people is to propose a restructuring of our service program so as to maximize the benefit of modernization to the American public. We also traveled to Amarillo, Midland, San Angelo, Lubbock, and El Paso for the same purpose. Many excellent ideas are coming from these trips, which will take us to all 30 Southern Region WFOs by the end of the year.

I participated in the annual SOO/Cooperative Institute workshop held this year in Tallahassee on the campus of Florida State University. My thanks to workshop organizers and the many individuals who worked hard to make this another good workshop. Many compliments were related to me on the success of the event.

I participated in the Gulf of Mexico NHC Hurricane Tour. We flew the NOAA P-3 along the coast from South Texas to South Florida holding town meetings, press conferences, and student meetings in preparation for this year's hurricane season. A lot of hard work is accomplished by many people to make these annual trips successful.

We traveled to El Paso to dedicate the new NWSO which is located at Santa Teresa, New Mexico. It was a great show and a wonderful trip to that part of the country. Many unique challenges are faced at a WFO located on the border of another country.

Finally, I participated in the press conference held in Fort Smith, Arkansas, announcing the results of a storm survey conducted to review services provided during a recent tornado event in that city. Although tension was high, the conference was very professional and orderly. Jim Belville from the OSF (Survey Team Leader) and I also met with city officials to discuss their concerns about our services. My thanks to the Public Affairs personnel for setting up the day and assuring a smooth conduct of business.

TRANSITION MANAGEMENT UNIT

UPCOMING SOUTHERN REGION MAR EVENTS.

June 5 Hydrological Service Area transfer for NWSO Jacksonville

June 14 NWSO Lake Charles facility dedication ceremony with open house the following day

June 15 Hydrological Service Area transfer for NWSO Brownsville

July 16 County Warning Area transfer from WSO Key West to NWSFO Miami

July 31 El Paso and San Angelo WSR-88D commissionings

NWSO EL PASO OFFICE DEDICATION AND OPEN HOUSE. NWSO El Paso's office dedication was held on Friday, May 17, and an open house for the public on Saturday, May 18. The dedication ceremony was held outdoors, with the weather and wind cooperating. Two tents were set up to the east of the WSR-88D tower. One was occupied by the Santa Teresa High School band which played the National Anthem, while the colors were presented and retired by the Fort Bliss Army Color Guard. The other tent housed the invitees and the media.

The keynote address was presented by Regional Director Harry Hassel, who was preceded by encouraging remarks from Lubbock MIC/Area Manager Andy Anderson and El Paso MIC Max Blood, and the reading of letters by representatives from the Las Cruces offices of U.S. Senators Domenici and Bingaman and U.S. Representative Skeen. Preceding and following the outdoor ceremonies, tours of the facilities were conducted for the invited guests. The event concluded with a ribbon cutting, conducted through the courtesy of the El Paso Area Chamber of Commerce, and the presentation of a dedication plaque by Harry Hassel.

The following day, an open house was held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and was well attended by the public. Approximately 60 people enjoyed a tour of the facilities. Overall, both events were very successful.

METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES DIVISION

THE DROUGHT. Parts of the Southern Region have been experiencing a drought of varying severity for the past year. The situation in Texas and New Mexico has become critical. Recent rains in the Texas Panhandle, over the Edwards Plateau of Texas, and part of New Mexico have helped; but the drought continues. Oklahoma has received more substantial rains lately, but that state also has been severely impacted. The eastern part of the region received adequate moisture during the winter months but has been experiencing below average rainfall during the spring.

The media is turning more and more attention to this drought situation. A number of offices have been providing supplemental information regarding rainfall deficits and long-term outlooks. We encourage all offices in areas impacted by the drought to follow that practice.

FT TRANSFERS. On June 5, NWSO Midland will assume terminal forecast responsibility for airports in their County Warning Area (CWA). Their first issuance will be at 0730 UTC on June 5 and will include forecasts for the airports at Carlsbad and Hobbs, New Mexico; and Midland and Wink, Texas. Thanks are extended to Ray Fagen and his staff for their efforts in preparing for the service transfer.

Another set of terminal forecast transfers is scheduled for Wednesday, July 3, 1996. NWSOs El Paso, Jacksonville, Morristown, Nashville, Shreveport, and Tallahassee will assume forecast responsibilities for the airports in their CWA. In addition, transfers involving NWSFOs Jackson, Little Rock, Memphis, and New Orleans will occur on this date.

AVIATION FORECAST BACK-UP. Updates to ROMLs that address the issue of aviation forecast back-up have been made and should show up in field offices soon. In the meantime, it is probably worth reminding offices of the current approach to service back-up.

The idea in choosing back-up sites is to avoid "fragmenting" the operations among several offices. NWSOs will, in the first level of back-up, send their aviation forecasts to their parent NWSFO. This applies even to those airports that an NWSO may have assumed from another NWSFO's forecast area. For example, NWSO Lake Charles took over responsibility for the Beaumont/Port Arthur FT which was originally in NWSFO San Antonio's forecast area. Beaumont/Port Arthur will now flow to New Orleans in Level 1 back-up.

The second level of back-up will have the NWSOs sending their aviation forecasts to their NWSFO's first level back-up. For example. NWSO Midland will send their FTs to NWSFO Lubbock first, and then to Lubbock's back-up, NWSFO Albuquerque, second. This will require the Level 2 back-up site for the NWSO to piledit in new sites for the NWSO that may have come from a different forecast area. Again, an example will clarify. NWSFO New Orleans' aviation program is backed up initially by NWSFO Jackson. So, Jackson will now have to include the Beaumont/Port Arthur forecast in their database to be in a position to handle NWSO Lake Charles as a second back-up.

The back-ups to the NWSFOs will proceed along these lines as well. Again, some NWSFOs will be assuming forecasts from other NWSFOs, so their back-ups must ensure that these new sites are in their database.

"FM" VERSUS "BECMG"--CORRECTION. In the April 15, 1996, edition of the Southern Topics, a brief discussion was presented regarding the use of "FM" versus "BECMG" in the TAFs. In the course of that discussion, an error was made. Please note in item 5 under "BECMG" that the time window represented in a BECMG group is not the time that the change in weather conditions remains valid. Rather, it's the time over which the change to the new conditions will take place. In other words, in BECMG 1820 2SM BR, the change from the original visibility condition to "2 statute miles in fog" will begin at 1800 UTC and end at 2000 UTC, after which the new condition will be valid until the next change group. Sorry for the confusion.

METAR/TAF TRAINING NOTE #8. Included in this edition of the Topics is the next in the series of METAR/TAF Training Notes. Note #8 addresses the issue of "Unscheduled TAFs."

NWR EXPANSION ON A ROLL IN ALABAMA. Football fans in Alabama are often heard to exclaim, "Roll Tide Roll." For the moment, it's NWR expansion in Alabama that is truly on a roll. The Winfield NWR site (SR #124) went on the air May 15. This is the third of the planned five expansion sites in the state. The Winfield NWR has the call letters of WWF-53, a frequency of 162.525 MHz, and an authorized power of 500 watts. Welcome!

The Auburn and Jackson expansion NWRs are nearing completion. A lot of hard work has gone into the Alabama expansion effort since the Palm Sunday tornado in 1994. Sincere appreciation is extended to all who have made this big project a reality.

NWR PSAs IN JACKSONVILLE BY FOOTBALL COACHES. Alabama doesn't have an exclusive on football fever. In football crazy northeast Florida, NWSO Jacksonville has done a little recruiting of its own to help publicize severe weather and hurricane awareness on NWR. MIC Steve Letro recently taped a series of PSAs with Head Coaches Bobby Bowden of Florida State University, Steve Spurrier of the University of Florida, and Tom Coughlin of the NFL Jacksonville Jaguars. The PSAs feature the coaches presenting safety rules for severe weather and hurricanes, along with an endorsement of NWR. They run in time-insert mode on the Jacksonville and Gainesville NWR stations. Coaches Bowden and Spurrier, in particular, have long been aware of the Hurricane threat--though possibly of a different nature.

SHORT TERM FORECAST #30 BEGINS. On June 11, 1996, NWSO San Angelo begins their "Short Term Forecast" (NOW). This completes the start-up and issuance of all NOWs planned for the 30 Southern Region "WFOs." The process began with NWSFO Norman around 1990 or so, and took six years to complete. NWSFO Fort Worth was the mid-point station (#15) beginning their NOW on January 10, 1995. The Weather Channel began carrying "Short Term Forecasts" on March 1, 1995. The "Short Term Forecast" is a very important and visible program of the NWS. Everyone's continued efforts to make the product and service successful is appreciated.

HYDROLOGIC SERVICES DIVISION

DROUGHT CONDITIONS ACROSS THE REGION. Severe to extreme drought conditions plague a large part of the region. Rainfall since the fall of 1995 has been well below normal (below 70 percent in many areas). Agricultural impacts and urban water supply shortages are becoming more critical as rainfall deficits increase. Hardest hit areas include Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico. Refer to the HSD attachment included in this issue of Topics for the latest Palmer Drought Index Chart. You can also access this chart via the Internet at the following URL: http://nic.fb4.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/regional_monitoring/palmer.gif.

In Texas the drought has been characterized as the second worst natural disaster (second only to property losses attributable to Hurricane Alicia that blasted through the state back in August 1983.) Across the southern plains, farms, ranches, and neighborhood lawns are all suffering from the shortage of rainfall. Aquifers, rivers, and reservoirs have dropped to very low levels affecting water quantity as well as water quality. Flow on the mainstem Rio Grande is 12 to 29 percent of normal with forecast flows expected to produce the third lowest flow totals in 35 years.

Numerous field offices and river forecast centers across the region continue to provide local media, water management agencies, and government officials with details on the rainfall deficits, river flow forecasts, and drought severity indexes. We encourage additional offices to begin providing this sort of information in the form of periodic public statements if drought conditions spread into their areas of responsibility.

NWS/IB&WC ANNUAL COORDINATION MEETING. The annual coordination meeting between the NWS and the International Boundary and Water Commission (IB&WC) was held at the West Gulf River Forecast Center (WGRFC) on May 29. Representatives from the IB&WC, SRH HSD, WGRFC Fort Worth, NWSFO Albuquerque, NWSO El Paso, NWSO Midland/Odessa, and NWSFO San Antonio attended. Topics discussed included: (1) status of NWS HSA transition; (2) changes in gaging networks; (3) update on reservoir levels in the Rio Grande basin; (4) updating of the Memorandum of Understanding; and (5) status and implications of the drought conditions affecting the basin.

QPF UPDATE. The QPF ROML has been finished and is being distributed to all offices. Although many offices have started practicing issuing QPF, with some already officially issuing routine QPF, the ROML formalizes the implementation process by providing policy and guidance for field offices. By August 1, 1996, over 90 percent of all future WFOs will be issuing daily QPF for their hydrologic service areas.

As more and more offices initiate QPF, we are discovering how creative individual offices are at accomplishing their own style of training. For instance, NWSFO Fort Worth QPF focal point Mike Mach recently conducted a heavy precipitation forecasting/QPF drill. Meanwhile, NWSO Lake Charles is planning for a mid-June training seminar on heavy precipitation forecasting and QPF production with help from NWSFO New Orleans QPF focal point Alan Johnson. Great work!

HSD STAR UPDATE. The ALERT/Hydromet 4 project has reached a milestone as new computers have been ordered for 12 of the 14 offices that will be running the newest version of Hydromet. The new QNX operating system will be ordered next week. The Hydromet 4 software will be available next week. The offices receiving new computers to run Hydromet 4 are:

NWSFO New Orleans NWSFO Jackson NWSFO Fort Worth NWSFO Austin/San Antonio NWSFO San Juan, PR NWSFO Little Rock NWSFO Birmingham NWSO Houston NWSO Tulsa NWSO Tallahassee NWSO Melbourne NWSO Lake Charles

In addition to these, NWSFO Norman and NWSO Shreveport will also be running Hydromet on computers previously sent to those offices.

The next major task is training the focal points on the installation and use of the new system. The training should be completed by the end of June and the end of my STAR appointment.

RIVER FORECAST CENTER HIGHLIGHTS

Brownsville Training. Tony Hall (HAS Forecaster, WGRFC Fort Worth) visited Brownsville May 13-15. The seminars covered RFC operations, the HAS function in the RFC, BrainMaker software and neural networks (refer to April 1, 1996, Topics FOR Tony's Tech Attachment), modernization of the RFCs, PC-GRIDDS applications for heavy rainfall forecasting, and QPF (including the HAS/QPF software).

Chinese Visit to LMRFC. Officials of the Changjiang Water Resources Commission from the Peoples Republic of China visited LMRFC Slidell May 15 for a briefing on NWS River Forecast Activities. Julie Shinko, Hydrologist at LMRFC, provided the delegation a briefing on LMRFC activities. The stop at LMRFC was part of a two-week tour of water resource activities in the United States.

Coordination Calls. Heavy rains in the upper Mississippi and Ohio Valleys have produced major flooding in these areas. To assist the Ohio River Division (ORD) and the Lower Mississippi Valley Division (LMVD) of the Corps of Engineers (COE) in their operations, daily coordination calls have been held between the COE and NWS offices. The North Central RFC, Ohio Basin RFC, LMRFC, and the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center of NCEP participated in these calls.

NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS

HSA Transfers. HSA transfers continue to wind down. NWSO Corpus Christi assumed their hydrologic responsibilities on May 30. NWSO Jacksonville will gain their HSA duties on June 5, and NWSO Brownsville accepts their responsibilities on June 15. Finally, on August 1 NWSO San Angelo completes the entire HSA transition process for the Southern Region when they assume their HSA.

Service Hydrologist Smooths Office Closure. Eldon Beard (NWSFO Norman Service Hydrologist) traveled to Wichita Falls in April. Eldon met with several government agency officials to discuss river flood forecast and warning dissemination and coordination in the Red River Basin of North Texas, formerly served by WSO Wichita Falls.

SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION

NEW PDW MODULE. Copies of COMET's newest CBL module, "A Convective Storm Matrix: Buoyancy/Shear Dependencies," have been distributed. This is the first "all CD-ROM" CBL, and additional copies of the CD were provided so that it may be used on any other compatible PC--even at home, if desired. Unfortunately, because of an error in production, the CDs contain an incorrect version of the software, and the module will not run correctly with Windows 95! COMET has indicated that the CDs will be replaced as soon as possible.

Dr. Joe Lamos, COMET's Distance Learning Program Manager, also passed on the following information regarding the new module:

"This module is a result of our transition to shorter and more focused modules. We were scheduled to produce a single module on anticipating convective storm structure, [but] we realized this topic was very large. The decision was made to split the original module into two separate but related modules [in order] to provide something to the field in time for the convective season this year. The Convective Storm Matrix module has no audio component; rather it provides a rich environment in which the forecaster can explore the relationships between buoyancy and wind shear on the development of storms. A series of questions can be used to help guide and focus the forecaster in this exploration of buoyancy/wind shear dependencies."

The exploratory nature of this module provides SOOs with a tool to conduct small group discussions of buoyancy/shear dependencies [in relation to] their local forecast problems. Also . . . this module has a new design feature; a high level module outline. This outline provides direct access to individual content elements of the module without having to work your way through the normal module menu structure.

NWA AWARDS NOMINATIONS. We have passed on to all offices a memo from NWS Headquarters encouraging nominations for the various awards presented by the National Weather Association. The nominations should be sent to SRH, and we will forward them to the NWA, through NWSH as requested by Dr. Friday. This process is intended to help encourage the widest possible response to the NWA's award program, and also to assist offices in submitting quality nominations. In the past, Southern Region employees--and the many groups and individuals who help us do our job--have received recognition. Specific information about the various awards is included in the memo, but they include:

For NWA members:

The Member of the Year Award

Individual and Group Operational Achievement Awards

The Research Achievement Award

Radio-TV Broadcaster of the Year

Local NWA Chapter Award

For other qualified groups or individuals:

The Walter J. Bennett Public Service Award

The Public Education Award

Aviation Meteorology Award

Special Award

Awards will be presented at the NWA Annual Meeting in Florida next December (see the following item). To get the nominations to the NWA in time to meet their deadline, please submit them to SSD by July 20.

NEW TECHNICAL MEMORANDA. The following Southern Region technical memoranda were recently distributed:

Forecasting Significant Fog on the Alabama Coast: Impact, Climatology, and Forecast Checklist Development, by Jeff Garmon (NWSFO Jackson), Dan Darbe (NWSO Houston) and Dr. Paul Croft (Jackson State University).

A Rainfall Climatology of the NWSFO Memphis County Warning Area, by David Gaffin and Joeseph Lowery (NWSFO Memphis).

Forecasting Elevated Upright Convection Using PC-GRIDDS, by Alan Gerard (NWSFO Jackson).

SOO NEWS

National Meeting. The question of whether or when to have a national meeting of SOOs this year will be resolved by a small group of the SOOs themselves. The group will also develop an agenda for any such meeting. Steve Amburn (Tulsa) and George Wilken (Little Rock) have volunteered to represent their Southern Region counterparts on the group.

NEXRAD Special Issue. In conjunction with the editor of Weather and Forecasting, the OSF is planning a special issue of the journal devoted to the WSR-88D program. The March 1998 issue is the target date, which means that manuscripts must be in the hands of the editor by March 1, 1997, to begin the formal review process. The OSF will coordinate contributions, but they are seeking papers from anyone who can contribute "lessons learned" so far with the new radar. Potential authors are encouraged to contact Don Burgess (Ext. 4276) or Tim Crum (Ext. 4226) at the OSF (405-366-6560). It is expected the special issues will comprise invited survey papers, summary papers, and case studies. The latter may be especially useful for the "Forecaster's Forum" section in the journal.

NWA ANNUAL MEETING--CALL FOR PAPERS. Attached to this week's Topics is the call for papers for the National Weather Association 21st Annual Meeting to be held in Cocoa Beach, Florida, next December. The theme of this year's meeting will center around "The Thunderstorm." In conjunction with the meeting, a 50th anniversary reunion is planned for participants in the Thunderstorm Project. For the same reason the historic Thunderstorm Project was conducted in Florida in 1946, Southern Region forecasters should have no problem contributing to this year's meeting.

BACK ISSUES. NWS Headquarters handles renewals for all offices for the AMS journals Monthly Weather Review and Weather and Forecasting. Due to budget difficulties late last year, this could not be done in time to avoid an interruption in mailing of the journals. Back copies have now been provided, however. If you have not yet received the missing copies, please let SSD know.

NOAA 9 FAILURE. The polar-orbiting satellite NOAA-9 failed to transmit on its 58,987th orbit recently, and monitoring attempts were abandoned after the failure was confirmed. The satellite is eleven and a half years old and has been severely hampered since it suffered a battery failure last year. It had been in a standby mode prior to its recent demise.

VISITING FORECASTER PROGRAM. Jeff Garmon, forecaster at NWSFO Jackson, recently participated in the NCEP Distinguished Visiting Forecaster Program. A summary of Jeff's experiences at NCEP is included as a technical attachment this week. This program is funded by NCEP and provides an opportunity for field forecasters to learn more about NCEP operations, while at the same time giving the NCEP staff a chance to gain feedback from the field offices.

MARINE FORECASTING NOTEBOOK. A revised edition of the Marine Forester Guide and Reference Manual is being distributed to all offices. The original edition of this manual was provided to coastal offices several years ago. That manual is now superseded and should be discarded. The original notebook and this new edition result from extensive collaboration among marine forecasters and program leaders in all of the NWS regions, university faculty, and other experts. It was developed by subject matter experts at the Cooperative Institute for Applied Meteorological Studies (CIAMS) at Texas A&M University, under the guidance of Steve Rinard (SOD), then Marine Program Leader in MSD.

The second edition expands several areas of the original and includes many modifications suggested by users. The NWS Office of Meteorology (OM12) provided support to produce the new notebooks. Along with the three COMET CBL marine training modules, the notebook should provide an excellent core of training materials for use at all offices which have--or will soon assume--marine forecasting responsibilities.

WSR 88-D OPERATIONS TRAINING. Of the 11 slots available to the Southern Region in the June 4 WSR-88D operations training class, only three forecasters attended. However, we were able to send many interns this month. Not only were we able to send interns for the remainder of our allotted slots, but we picked up an extra slot to send a total of nine interns to the course this month. This brings the total number of trained interns to 15 since a consistent policy for sending interns to the OSF was agreed to by the regions and NWSH. All this comes about because with fewer forecasters and hydrologists left to train at the OSF, there is less flexibility in scheduling them for slots. As a result, opportunities are available for meteorologist interns.

So, the message is--interns keep your bags packed, since these opportunities usually become available on short notice. Also, MICs and HICs should continue to keep SSD posted on any new forecasters needing the training. We have not received our formal allotments for the remainder of the summer classes, but we need to know our training requirements so we can make the selections as soon as possible after we obtain slot assignments.

END-TO-END TEST FOR METAR IMPLEMENTATION. Progress continues at a rapid pace in testing the receipt and processing of the METAR observations. Data flow, as measured at the test sites, is quite adequate in general, but with a couple of METAR sites still reporting problems; these seem to be local in nature and are under investigation. The related applications programs are progressing well. Final versions of the SAO decoder and weather roundup programs have been distributed to all offices, and the aviation monitoring program is well into the testing phase. The only major program that may not be ready for the July 1 METAR conversion is the AFOS forecast verification program (AEV).

Each office by now should have preparations for the METAR conversion well under way. We have asked that all offices have the new SAO decoder program (Version 12.03) and the new roundup programs loaded and running by June 15. We also expect that sites have the databases updated by that date. This includes the addition of all needed MTR category AFOS product keys to the database. Sites needing support for these activities should call Gordon Hammons at 817-978-2671.

TDL is now in the process of updating the MONITOR and VERIFY programs and expects MONITOR will be available by the changeover, but VERIFY may lag into July. If you have more questions about the METAR change, you can refer to the INTERNET page at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oso/oso1/oso12/metar.htm.

SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION BRANCH

FRAME RELAY PROGRESS. Southern Region now has 14 offices on the Southern Region Frame Relay Network. SRH continues to ship routers to offices. Training is still scheduled in July for all ESAs. The training will be in Addison, Texas (just north of Dallas). ESAs will soon receive schedules and travel instructions for the training session. Bruce Marshak is the point of contact for the training and installation of the network.

FAASEND UPGRADE. The final touches are being added to the FAAsend program to accommodate the new METAR observation code. The computers are operating in Fort Worth and New Braunfels, with Norman going on line in early June. The FAA has begun transmitting observations to verify the software. They will convert their computers during June to meet the July 1 deadline.

PC ROSA. As the METAR conversion winds down, WSH is shifting its focus to PC ROSA. This is the program that will replace the Touchtone System in the Southern Region. Currently, NWSH plans to begin testing in October with implementation early next year. Leon Minton has been designated as the focal point for these computers in Southern Region Headquarters.

ANONYMOUS CALL REJECTION. First some basic terminology. Recently most telephone companies have added a new service called Caller ID. The service allows the recipient of a call to identify the phone number of the caller. Since some people don't want their numbers identified, the phone company has a service that will allow the caller to be anonymous and block the transmission of their phone line. This service is called Per Line Blocking. Some people don't want to talk to people who want to remain anonymous, so they can reject the call with a service called appropriately Anonymous Call Rejection.

All government lines automatically have Per Line Blocking. We are finding instances where this service prevents office personnel from contacting employees, users, or vendors. On those occasions when a call is rejected, the caller can override the Per Line Blocking by dialing *82 before making the call. This will disable the Per Line Blocking for that one call. If you have any questions, please call Robert Peña (817) 978-2367, Ext. 301.

INTERNATIONAL WEATHER OBSERVATIONS. On June 3, 1996, Canadian weather observations will be converted to the new METAR format. Also on this date, new AFOS PILs will be in place to accommodate other international METAR observations, including observations from Canada, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. For more information, you can refer to AFOS Change Notice #1206. It has all the new PILs for the METAR observations.

If your office wants to decode these observations, the new SAO decoder, mentioned above, must be installed and operating by June 3.

WHAT'S NEW WITH AWIPS? Unfortunately, the program is experiencing more delays as PRC is having difficulties with integrating the software. The latest schedule had a delivery to NWSO Tulsa as no earlier than July 22. We'll keep you posted.

NWSO AFOS DZ0 BACKUP DISK. Thanks to Greg Jackson, the SOO at NWSO San Angelo, we have a better backup disk for NWSO DZ0. With the AFOS Release 4.0 update, the new WINRECOV did not have all the necessary files to recover DZ0 from the backup disks. Greg had to create a DZ0 backup to use in recovering the NWSO San Angelo AFOS, and he sent a good copy to SRH. We will be distributing them in the coming week.

REQUESTS FOR CHANGE. Requests for Change sent to NWSH for approval:

SRH544 WGRFC Product changes.

SRH545 Remove RTA from WSCMO Nashville.

SRH547 Remove AK and GDM from NWSO Houston.

SRH552 New Olympic PILs.

SRH553 Remove AG from NWSO Brownsville; remove AGG from LMRFC Fort Worth; prepare NWSO Tulsa for AWIPS.

SRH554 Change Gateway direction for Alexandria, Oklahoma City, and McAlister weather observations.

SRH556 Add spare HAWK system to NWSFO Atlanta for Olympics backup.

SRH557 Spin-down WSOs Victoria, Athens, Montgomery, and Fort Smith.

WSR-88D ANTENNA/RADOME/SHELTER PMI UPDATE. The depot-level PMIs are going very well. The SM-ALC team performing the maintenance has done a good job coordinating with the site representatives as to the work required, scheduling, and support. So far eight sites in Southern Region have been completed. There has been only one day lost to weather, and no major discrepancies have been encountered at the sites. The most common discrepancies so far are the radome bolts and tower bolts did not meet specs (loose or not tight enough). As far as the RDA shelter work, Lake Charles and New Orleans are the only two sites which will receive this PMI at this time. A cost/benefits analysis will be undertaken to determine if this work will be included in the remaining sites' PMIs. Also, the PMI team has commended all site personnel for their excellent support. A special thanks goes out from the Region to all of you for supporting this project. Keep up the good work.

The PMI schedule for the month of June is:

Birmingham 06/03/96 to 06/09/96

Morristown 06/10/96 to 06/16/96

Nashville 06/17/96 to 06/23/96

Memphis 06/24/96 to 06/30/96

GET READY FOR THE CAL VAN. The AT&T calibration van will be coming to a site near you in the not too distant future to calibrate all of your NEXRAD and non-NEXRAD test equipment. The schedule has been formed, and a notice will be sent to your office informing each site of the calibration requirements. Also, a draft copy of the new NWS Calibration Policy and Procedures is available for review/comment at Southern Region Headquarters. Any questions or comments, please contact Cecil Tevis at (817) 978-2644, Ext. 142.

OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH

DAPM CONFERENCE CALL. A DAPM conference call has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 19. The call will begin at 9 a.m. CDT and last for a maximum of two hours. Most of the SOD program managers will be participating in the call. All DAPMs are urged to participate in the call or designate a representative from the office to take their place.

Please contact Mike Asmus, RCP, if there are any changes in the telephone number list since the last conference call. If there are particular subjects of interest for discussion, please forward those ideas as well.

MARCH PRELIMINARY MISSING COOPERATIVE DATA REPORT. The March preliminary missing Cooperative Data Report was recently released by NCDC. Once again the Southern Region DAPM/HMT teams are demonstrating they are among the best in the country. The national average was 1.8 percent missing data; the Southern Region average was only 0.9 percent. The breakdown by CWA was not yet available, but only three states had more than two missing reports. Congratulations to all the DAPM/HMT teams for a job well done. Let's hope this is the first of many consecutive months with a missing report average below 1.0 percent.

ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION

PERSONAL BENEFITS STATEMENTS. The yearly Personal Benefits Statements have been delayed this year and should be received by the end of June.

THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN UPDATE. Attached to this issue of Southern Topics is the latest Thrift Savings Plan Fact Sheet Update.

SOUTHERN REGION DIRECTORY UPDATES. (Please refer to your hard copy of Southern Topics for these changes.)

DIVERSITY AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES

NWSFO OKLAHOMA CITY. The staff at Norman continues to conduct career talks at local schools and participate in science fairs.

NWSFO ATLANTA. A meteorologist and hydrologist traveled to Hood Avenue Elementary School in Fayetteville, Georgia, to talk about "The Planet Earth's Complete Water Cycle." Carlos Garza and Reggina Garza talked to over 11 classes each during one full day at the school. Comments received a week later from the Career Week Committee indicated that the students still remember what meteorology and hydrology are all about!

NWSO SHREVEPORT. Marion Kuykendall, John Elmore, Richard Ogle, and Bill Parker talked to meteorology students from Bossier Parish Community College about NWS operations, modernization, and careers in the NWS.

NWSFO DALLAS/FORT WORTH. On May 1, NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas completed a cooperative project with Trinity Valley School, a private, college-preparatory school in Tarrant County. This project involved working with a senior high school student interested in meteorology. During the month of April the student spent three hours (noon to 3:00 p.m.) at the NWSFO helping the public service unit with its duties. She also analyzed maps, researched climatic data, surveyed computer model output, and was required to write a report on her activities.

NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas also has three student volunteers, all female. One is a home-schooled senior, and the other two attend local colleges. The two college students plan to attend Texas A&M in the fall. All routinely spend several hours two to three times a week at the NWSFO working with the public service unit and helping with various projects. They all have been very dedicated, reliable, and perform solid, conscientious work. Fortunately, all usually visit at different times.

NWSFO LUBBOCK. Tornado safety presentations were given to a group of handicapped/wheelchair-bound people from a local housing authority, two local hospital nursing schools, an oil company, and a local business.

NWSO AMARILLO. Billy Beams (Native American Employment Program Manager) presented the AMS Minority Scholarship to one of their student volunteers, Dave Williams. Dave has been accepted at Oklahoma University and will major in meteorology!

SOUTHERN REGION EEO COMMITTEE. The Regional EEOC is meeting in SRH June 11-13 to discuss the EEO program and plan future projects. Sexual harassment and diversity office discussions continue this summer with NWSFO Jackson this month, and NWSFOs Lubbock and Norman in July.

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