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

May 2000

SOUTHERN TOPICS


REGIONAL DIRECTOR

The Southern Region SMART (Senior Managers Advisory Regional Team) met at Southern Region Headquarters in Fort Worth on May 3 and 4. The team laid the groundwork for developing the Southern Region's operating plan for FY01. Seven tentative goals were proposed and the team members will now be discussing the proposed goals with their respective groups of managers. This year we hope to allow the field offices the flexibility to tailor their individual operating plans to fit the needs at the local level while still providing support to accomplishing the overall strategic goals of the Agency. The SMART members were enthusiastic about this approach to developing operating plans.

The team also recommended we plan to schedule the Southern Region Field Office Managers' meeting (usually called the MIC/HIC meeting) during the week of October 30-November 3, 2000. MICs and HICs should plan accordingly.

METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES DIVISION

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

CWSU Fort Worth. CWSU Fort Worth is gearing up for the WARP Operational Testing and Evaluation (OT&E) to begin in May. Planning meetings are being held at the ARTCC the week of April 24. Representatives from NCAR visited the NWSFO and CWSU in Fort Worth on April 21 to discuss start-up plans for the System for Convective Analysis and Nowcasting (SCAN). Tentative plans are for both offices to participate with start-up scheduled for March 2001. We feel that SCAN will especially benefit the CWSU mission, since the where and when of thunderstorm initiation are major problems for the Traffic Management Unit and controllers.

Plans are moving ahead for the start-up of the Dallas-Fort Worth Collaborative Aviation Forecast Study (D-CAFS). The study's main objective is to test application of collaborative forecast methodologies to a wide range of aviation forecast problems. The NWSFO, CWSU, and the AWC will work cooperatively on D-CAFS, which is slated to begin in early summer.

The CWSU in Fort Worth was right in the "thick of things" during the March 28 metroplex tornado event. The storm caused extensive holds to aircraft inbound to DFW and nearly caused the evacuation of the control personnel to the basement. The event was handled well by CWSU meteorologists. In fact, they received many kudos for their efforts, especially for the greater than 24-hour advance notice given to traffic managers and supervisors. Throughout their briefings, the meteorologists emphasized the terms "severe," "major impact," and "significant thunderstorm impact."

CWSU Houston. The Houston ARTCC and CWSU are participating in an experimental lightning project that supports the Gulf of Mexico Working Group (GOMWG) initiative to develop an IFR navigational route structure across the Gulf. The data is available on the CWSU's home page.

CWSU Jacksonville. A recent severe weather event had a direct impact on Jacksonsonville's administrative operations. A tornado warning issued by NWSO Jacksonville prompted the evacuation of all potentially unsafe buildings on ARTCC property. All personnel (including children at an adjacent day care facility) were moved into the main control room until the threat ended. We understand that the Air Traffic Manager at Jacksonville is purchasing a NOAA Weather Radio for the control room watch desk as a backup for those times that a meteorologist is not on duty.

CWSU Memphis. At the request of the ARTCC Chief, a meeting is planned at CWSU Memphis on May 2 to discuss the need to go to 24-hour operations. We understand that the FAA is entertaining the idea of 24-hour operations at the Memphis, Houston, Oakland, Indianapolis, and New York ARTCCs.

CWSU Miami. The ARTCC Chief and TMU Manager visited the NWSFO/TPC to receive a tour and a briefing on operations. Reportedly, they were quite impressed with the capability of AWIPS, the system of choice to replace the RTA.

FIRE WEATHER PROGRAM ACTIVITIES. The regional standardized fire weather format was implemented as scheduled on April 5. Feedback on the forecast format from land management agency customers, most notably the Texas Forest Service, has been quite favorable. Based on new requirements from the Texas Forest Service, the staff at NWSO Amarillo spun up a Routine Fire Weather Forecast on April 19.

INCIDENT RESPONSE. Southern Region completed its second Incident Meteorologist dispatch of the early season on April 21. Chuck Maxwell, at the request of the US Forest Service, worked a series of fires called the Rio Grande Complex in central New Mexico from the NWSFO Albuquerque. Chuck provided spot forecasts, crew briefings and routine forecasts in support of the incident.

EXPERIMENTAL DROUGHT PRODUCT. A pilot project aimed at assessing the utility of issuing bi-weekly Drought Information Statements will begin on May 3. All NWS offices in Texas will participate in this project that will call for the issuance of these statements anytime their CWFA is under moderate or greater drought conditions (as determined by the Palmer Drought Severity Index). These statements will contain information on hydrologic conditions, fire danger and agricultural impacts. They may include information pertaining to emergency response and/or community restrictions. The project is expected to continue through November.

NWR EXPANSION. The following transmitters have been installed and will be accepted by May 1: Americus, in Sumter County, Georgia and Dyersburg, in Dyer County, Tennessee. Installation has slowed a little due to new delays (two to three weeks) by Crown Broadcast with the delivery of transmitters, a few minor glitches with recently installed systems and delays with obtaining phone connections through MCI. Additionally, TL Farrow has inspected three sites in Arkansas and two in Texas for future coop-donor sites.

CRS NEWS. Doug Crowley (SR MSD) and Mike Coyne (NWSO Corpus Christi) attended a formatter workshop the first week of April. The new national formatter CAFÉ, was reviewed and suggestions were made for improvement. At that time it still lacked a convective watch/warning capacity. This formatter should be available for beta test in early May. Offices will still be allowed to remain with their current formatters, at least until CAFÉ and AWIPS can meet AWIPS to CRS requirements.

CRS Patch 6.1 was distributed in early April to all except the Southern Region and Western Region. Southern Region received instructions on April 24. By the end of that week, 20 of our 31 sites had already upgraded. A great effort for such short notice.

Heiko Crowe (SRH) attended the first CRS training course offered at NWSTC in April. Heiko will be providing the technical programming support for the CRS system from the Southern Region.

VOICE CONCATENATION. Installation of the VCC system (text to concatenation voice) in Fort Worth will be done the week of May 15, with testing scheduled to begin in June. The recording studio has been set up in Silver Spring, and recordings of an estimated 20,000 phrases has begun. The male voice is Mike Gerber at NWSH, and the female voice will be Southern Region's own Jackie Cartwright from Melbourne. Jackie has a wonderful voice and will be in Silver Spring the first two weeks of May to begin recording the voice database.

HYDROLOGIC SERVICES DIVISION

DROUGHT PRODUCT PILOT PROJECT. On May 2, Texas WFOs began issuing drought information statements using the PNS product category. These drought products will be issued on Tuesdays on a biweekly basis when the Palmer Drought Severity Index is moderate or worse. They will contain a headline, synopsis of hydrometeorological conditions, and an outlook on drought conditions based on the various sources of short- and long-range hydrometeorological outlooks from NCEP. At local office discretion, these drought products may also contain information about the impacts of the drought on water supply, agriculture, and fire danger. They may also include actions and responses taken by our partners and customers. The products will provide input for the national Drought Monitor. The following products will contain the drought information statements:

1. FTWPNSFTW
2. OKCPNSOKC
3. LBBPNSAMA
4. LBBPNSLBB
5. LBBPNSELP
6. LBBPNSMAF
7. SATPNSHOU
8. SATPNSSAT
9. SATPNSCRP
10. SATPNSBRO
11. LBBPNSSJT
12. NEWPNSLCH
13. NEWPNSSHV

They can also be accessed from the regional Web server: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/data

The pilot project will continue until November 30, 2000. During this period, the participating WFOs will collect feedback from partners and customers on this product. This feedback will be used to assess the usefulness of the product content to support our partners and customers needs. We already received positive feedback from the CPC and the Texas Department of Emergency Management. Thanks to all the WFOs participating in this pilot project. Your first issuances were excellent.

INLAND FLOODING BROCHURE. The Office of Hydrology recently informed us about the availability of a new brochure titled "Hurricane Flooding: A Deadly Inland Danger." This brochure describes the flooding hazards associated with tropical systems. It includes facts and safety rules. The brochure will soon be available from the National Logistics and Supply Center. We will notify you when it becomes available for distribution.

HAT TEAM REPORT. The Hydrologic Advisory Team (HAT), comprising of hydrometeorologists from the WFOs, RFCs, and the region recently submitted a final report summarizing their vision for the future direction of the Southern Region hydrologic services program. We will shortly disseminate the report to all offices to solicit comments on the team's strategic operations plan for hydrologic services. Our goal is to use your feedback to help us prioritize the field report's recommendations and integrate them into the region's strategic plans for the future.

NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS

SOUTHEAST RIVER FORECAST CENTER

FEMA Meeting. On April 25, HIC John Feldt, DOH Brad Gimmestad, senior hydrologic forecaster Jonathan Atwell, and HAS forecasters Jack Bushong and Kent Frantz met with FEMA Region IV regional officials to discuss future collaborative efforts between the two offices. The FEMA officials provided the RFC personnel with an overview of their regional operations center and much time was spent discussing hurricane coordination. There was also discussion about the time window for posting the RFC GIS-based flood potential graphics during tropical weather events to support emergency management briefings. Future collaborative efforts will include the development of an RFC daily GIS-based flood potential graphic for use by the emergency management community and other partners and customers.

LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER FORECAST CENTER

TDL Support for River Forecasting. On April 17, Will Shafer of Techniques Development Laboratory visited LMRFC to discuss providing them real-time SLOSH model output to use for storm surge on the rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico. LMRFC currently uses the SLOSH model output as a boundary condition into DWOPER to model the storm surge from a hurricane as the surge moves up the Mississippi River. After coordinating with Will, LMRFC will receive SLOSH model runs based on the TPC forecasted track to provide a more specific and accurate forecast due to surge up the Mississippi River. LMRFC plans to develop procedures based on information and programs obtained from TDL to monitor and predict storm surge using the SLOSH model output in real-time. These procedures should be in place prior to the 2000 hurricane season.

Collaborative Research Projects. On March 28, hydrologic forecasters David Welch and Amanda Roberts, and HIC Dave Reed attended a meeting with the Amite River Commission and faculty members from Louisiana State University (LSU), and the University of Alabama Huntsville (UAH) on research projects in the Amite River drainage, in south-central Louisiana. The university is using LMRFC WSR-88D Stage III precipitation estimates to help initialize the MM5 model to better predict QPF, for input into a semi-distributed hydrologic model, to compare model results with LMRFC's SACSMA model output, and help to prepare a flood inundation map of the area. Using cross-sectional data from FEMA used in the development of 100-year and 500-year flood plains, LSU hopes to more precisely and accurately define the 100-year and 500-year flood levels and develop better flood inundation maps. The work at UAH is funded by NASA and LSU is funded by FEMA.

SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION

NEW NWA ELECTRONIC JOURNAL. The National Weather Association's Weather and Forecasting Committee has announced a new NWA Electronic Journal of Operational Meteorology. The goal of the journal is to provide a web-based venue for the speedy electronic publication of operational forecast topics with an emphasis on forms of media that are best shown via the Web (e.g., image loops and color images). This new journal is not intended to replace the NWA Digest, but rather to complement it. The scope of "e-papers" will be similar to that of "Technical Notes" in the NWA Digest and they will undergo a similar review process. The electronic manuscripts will be limited to five pages or less, and they may encompass any topic relevant to operational hydrometeorology. Readers will be encouraged to contact the authors for additional information.

MORE ANDRA TELETRAINING. In mid-April, David Andra (SOO, NWSFO Norman) repeated his teletraining on operational use of AWIPS and warning decision-making for offices in the Central Region. A total of twenty-one offices participated in two sessions.

HURRICANE CONFERENCE. Attached this month is a summary of papers and posters to be presented by Southern Region participants at the AMS 24th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

WEB SITE "JUMP PAGES." In response to the NWSH Strategic Planing and Policy Office directive to notify users whenever a link on an NWS Web page will take the user to a non-NOAA site, Southern Region offices have been instructed to add a pop-up JavaScript alert window to all such links on their Web pages. As directed, the window reads:

"You are now leaving this National Weather Service Web site."

"The NWS provides a link to this external Web page because it may contain related information of interest to you. This link does not constitute an endorsement by the NWS of any information, products or services on this external Web site."

"You can return to the NWS Web site by using the Back button on your Web browser."

This approach for the "jump page" was chosen because it allows several features, for example:

- Better Web site maintenance, since automatic link validation programs used by the Webmasters (e.g., Frontpage) can continue to verify the external links.

- No additional workload on the NWS Web server, since the script runs on the browser's computer.

- The function of the Back button (the most frequently used part of Web browsers) is not changed. The user presses the Back button once to return to the NWS site.

ACARS DATA. The NOAA/Forecast Systems Lab ACARS Web site contains a variety of information about ACARS data, in particular, examples of how the data are being used in forecast operations at WFOs. ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) is used by a number of airlines to transmit proprietary air-to-ground communications, but among the data transmitted are meteorological and positioning information. FSL uses the term ACARS to mean, simply, weather reports from commercial aircraft. Since the data are recorded and transmitted continuously, on arrival and departure the system takes essentially vertical soundings. We encourage forecasters to visit the FSL ACARS Web site at http://acweb.fsl.noaa.gov/. Recently posted is a Western Region tech attachment by Greg Martin (NWSO San Diego) describing a variety of examples of how the data assisted with local forecast problems.

From the same Web site, click on "Sounding Statistics" to see the weekly summaries of ACARS soundings received at airports around the country (with day-by-day counts). You may be surprised at both the number and location of soundings.

MORE WEB KUDOS. NWSO Nashville MIC Derrel Martin passed on the following comments the office recently received from a very satisfied Web site user.

...I am one of the NWS Severe Storm Spotters...located in Robertson County, near Greenbrier. I just thought I would send a note to compliment you ... on the "clean look" and "user-friendliness" of the Nashville NWS Web site. I access it quite often, particularly during times of "active" weather... Although I have learned an enormous amount, ...I still haven't a clue about Web sites and their workings. But, even I can look at a site and form opinions as to the expertise of the web "handlers" and just how easy, or not, a site is to use. Your site is splendid and I can't think of enough good things to say about it. I find a lot of useful information and I am constantly encouraging online friends to use the site. I send kindest regards to ALL of the Nashville NWS staff and a big "THANKS" for all of the hard work and professional expertise, with its aim of keeping area residents better informed about the weather. I can assure you that your performance is both respected AND appreciated.

CHANGE IN AMS ANNUAL MEETING FORMAT. Next year in Albuquerque, the American Meteorological Society's Annual Meeting will follow a new format. Instead of 12-15 independent conferences occurring simultaneously, there will be two themed symposia: One on climate variations, and another on extreme precipitation events. Each symposium will run for four days, Monday-Thursday, and will include sessions ranging from observations through theory, modeling, forecasting, applications, societal impacts, and policy implications. Most oral presentations will be invited; most contributed presentations will be in poster form. All posters will be on display throughout the week for convenient viewing, and each cluster of posters will have at least two viewing times when the authors will be available to discuss their posters. On Wednesday morning during the annual meeting, President Jeff Kimpel plans to have a policy session with the entire meeting in plenary session.

In addition to these symposia, there will be a small number of regular conferences, such as Interactive Information Processing Systems, Education, and Global Change. Overall, the 81st Annual Meeting will have fewer parallel sessions, and therefore the attendees will not be pulled in so many directions. This change represents implementation of the recommendations of the ad hoc Committee on Meetings, chaired by Professor Roger Wakimoto of UCLA.

COMET CONVECTIVE TRAINING OPTIONS. With the convective season underway, the COMET program has a reminder of available convective training materials. Would your office benefit by reexamining issues such as:

1. How can I identify supercell storms earlier by anticipating their motions?
2. What can help me identify the potential for bow echo formation and derecho events?
3. What factors contribute to the variety of structures and evolutions of MCSs?

The COMET program recently released a new version of the streaming Webcast, "Predicting Supercell Motion Using Hodograph Techniques" (http://meted.ucar.edu/convectn/ic411) that can be downloaded for local playback. In this Webcast, forecaster Matthew Bunkers presents a statistically superior method for predicting supercell motion regardless of the shape or location of the shear profile on the hodograph plot. The technique is based on the examination of 225 actual supercell events (see the Feb, 2000 Weather and Forecasting article of the same name).

If your office would benefit from a review of bow echo morphology, the environments that are most conducive to bow echo formation, and/or anticipating the onset of damaging winds associated with bow echoes using the MARC technique, you can revisit the bow echo sections of the COMET Web module, "Mesoscale Convective Systems: Squall Lines and Bow Echoes."

The COMET program's MCS training is focused on describing how environmental factors determine the internal dynamics of squall lines and bow echoes, and on how those dynamics influence MCS structure and evolution. In June 1999 they released the CD-ROM, "An MCS Matrix." Patterned after the previously released "A Convective Storm Matrix CD-ROM, "An MCS Matrix" provides learners the opportunity to explore the relationship between a squall line's environment and its structure and evolution.

More details on these materials as well as other convection-related training opportunities from other training centers are available from the MetEd Web site in the two Convection-related Professional Development Series. (see http://meted.ucar.edu/profdev.htm)

SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION BRANCH

MCAFEE ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE FIX. Alan Del Castillo at NWSO Brownsville has been working closely with Network Associates (they bought out McAfee) to resolve the problems encountered when attempting to load the latest version 4.5 McAfee VirusScan software on Southern Region computers. The problems were most noticeable on the Micron computers because of a conflict with the McAfee software and the integrated video setup on the Micron and certain other computers. The time and energy Alan has put into working with the Network Associates support staff to resolve this problem is really appreciated. Hopefully, by the time this is read, Network Associates will have a fix that will be available to everyone.

NETSCAPE MESSAGING. On May 26, a major step in the process of migrating from cc:Mail to Netscape Messaging was accomplished when Leon Minton coordinated with Bill Diego, the Netscape Professional Services individual on contract to NOAA, to establish Directory Replication from the Tier 2 Directory in Boulder, CO to the Tier 3 Directory in SRH. Several Post-Integration steps, including extending the directory schema and backing up the directory, were then accomplished in preparation for getting the Messaging Server to now use the new Directory Server directory. The process of migrating Southern Region users will be a laborious one. All new mailing lists will be created in the new system, and manual edits for every Southern Region employee in both the new Netscape system and the old cc:Mail system. The Electronic Systems Analysts will be busy ensuring that the field personnel have the Netscape Messenger clients up and running and that the desired archive messages have been converted into the new Netscape client folders. Due to the delays that have been inherent in undertaking this major transition, it was just announced by NWSH that the Netscape installs have been stretched out until the AUG/SEPT time frame. The original goal was to be completed by the end of June, which would have implied that all of Southern Region (32 cc:Mail post offices) would have to be converted in just two months.

NWSTC COURSES. A meeting to design an Intermediate UNIX Course was held at NWSTC on April 10. The purpose of this meeting was to identify the topics, objectives and requirements for a new NWSTC course in intermediate UNIX. The following process was used to accomplish this goal:

1. Define the audience and the skill/knowledge level that will be brought into the course.
2. Generate a "Purpose of the Course" statement.
3. A list of topics to be included in the course was generated by using a task analysis form. The form was created from a list of possible topics that have been included in prior UNIX courses taught at the training center, and also from suggested topics provided by the Field Requirements Team (FRT). Then through a prioritization process topics were deleted.
4. Once a proposed list was finalized, each topic was further defined by generating a list of specific objectives, skills and knowledge to be gained from each topic.

The meeting was a success and the results will be a course that will provide NWS field ETs with an intermediate level of UNIX skills, which will assist them in the support of various NWS UNIX based I.T. systems. Southern Region was represented by Bobby Franco ESA NWSFO Albuquerque, Joe Villescaz ET NWSFO Austin/San Antonio, and Martin Garcia EPM SRH who comprised the (FRT).

MARIO VALVERDE. On April 25, Mario Valverde, Chief of the Systems Integration Branch suffered a serious heart attack while at work. Mario began feeling ill in the morning and called his wife Linda to come pick him up from work and take him to the doctor. While in route, he began complaining of tingling and numbness in his hands. After initial examination at the doctor's office, they called an ambulance to transport him to the North Hills Hospital where they performed a catheterization. During this procedure the doctor discovered that Mario needed a quadruple bypass. The doctors performed and completed the bypass surgery on April 26. He is now recovering at home. Our thoughts are with Mario and his family.

AWIPS SUPPORT. Southern Region personnel continue to assist other regions in the implementation of AWIPS throughout the National Weather Service. Bruce Marshak traveled to Pacific Region last month to conduct an LDAD training session. Bruce continues to assist other regions in their implementation of special LDAD interfaces.

ASOS REPAIR TIMES. Several examples from El Techs have been forwarded to the ASOS Operations and Maintenance Center (AOMC) where the El Techs recorded repair times within acceptable limits, which AOMC later showed as exceeding the allowable repair times. These discrepancies may be caused by the current system used at AOMC to log entries, and may continue until the AOMC system is modified. On another topic, ASOS cleaning product delivery to the field has been inconsistent, but improved communication with the field personnel will result in better timing of these deliveries so the field staff does not experience shortages or overages of materials.

AUTOMATIC RADIO THEODOLITE. Automatic Radio Theodolite (ART) parts should now be available at the National Reconditioning Center (NRC). There was a temporary shortage of parts due to NRC changes in operations combined with a loss of personnel.

OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH

SHREVEPORT POWER OUTAGE. On Easter Sunday, April 23, during a severe weather event, the Shreveport Weather Forecast Office suffered a total power outage. The troubles began when the office lost commercial utility power. The Uninterruptable Power Supply (UPS) carried the load until the Emergency Power Generator (EPG) started and transferred. Everything worked as designed and for the next thirty to forty minutes everything was normal. Suddenly the Emergency Power Generator quit running. Every piece of equipment not connected to the UPS immediately went dead. The office quickly went into Service Backup mode and began to investigate what went wrong.

The office made a call to the local generator maintenance company requesting emergency service. Once on site the company found the heater used to keep the battery warm shorted. This short caused the circuit breaker to trip. Once tripped, everything connected to the circuit failed to work. As it turned out the pump that transfers fuel from the main fuel tank to the day tank inside the building is on the same breaker. Once the Emergency Power Generator consumed the fuel in the small day tank it quit and all non-critical equipment went dead. The generator maintenance company reset the breaker and restarted the generator. By this time the commercial utility was available and the generator was not needed.

SAN JUAN ROOF. MASC received and opened the bids to replace the roof on the NWSFO, U/A Building, Generator Building, and storage building in San Juan. The low bid appears to be $78,000. The original flat, single membrane roof began leaking a few years ago due to poor construction and several hurricanes. Hopefully the repairs will be completed by June 1.

WEATHER AND RADAR PROCESSOR INSTALLATION. Ft. Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZFW ARTCC) has been selected as a site for the Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) of the FAA WARP Build 1 system. NEXRAD data from approximately 13 WSR-88D sites in and adjacent to the ZFW airspace will be displayed on simulators on the Display System Replacement (DSR) screens that Air Traffic Controllers use to view aircraft targets.

MCI LINCS equipment has been installed at each of the WSR-88D sites to use for transmitting the NEXRAD data to the ARTCC.

The OT&E is scheduled to begin in mid-May. It is still unclear at this time what impact this new user of WSR-88D data will have on existing Unit Radar Committee policies and procedures and if any new maintenance requirements will be imposed on NWS WFOs in support of the WARP.

ASSUMPTION OF WSR-88D UNIT CONTROL FUNCTIONALITY. As per the national agreement between NWSH and the DOD, the NWS WFOs are in the midst of assuming NEXRAD Unit Control Position (UCP) functionality for nearby DOD WSR-88Ds.

The process is well underway in SRH, with functionality of 13 of the 14 DOD UCPs already having been transferred to the SRH WFOs. Data from all sites is being ingested into AWIPS and is being used operationally. No significant obstacles have been encountered so far, thanks to the outstanding coordination and dedication of the staffs of the SRH WFOs involved.

ASOS VERSION 2.6 INSTALLATION. No new progress has been made on the part of the FAA with their labor unions with regard to allowing NWS Electronics Technicians to install the new ASOS V2.6 Software at locations where FAA bargaining unit members are responsible for the ASOS augmentation and backup.

ASOS COMMISSIONING MORATORIUM. The existing FAA imposed moratorium that prohibits the commissioning of an ASOS at a Service Level D site that has an existing Contract Weather Observer is still in place.

AUTOMATING COLLECTION OF AWOS DATA. Paul Kirkwood (NWSO Morristown) visited SRH the week of May 1 to work on a program which automatically dials non-federal AWOS sites and converts the surface weather observations into a format which is then shipped to LDADS for storage. Once in LDADS the data are processed through the AWIPS METAR decoder which stores the data in the Informix DataBase and Plot files. This is an extension of work Paul accomplished for Tennessee AWOS sites. While his work here initially targeted new Texas AWOS-III sites, we hope to expand it for use at offices region-wide.

TEXAS SURFACE OBSERVATION INITIATIVE. The State of Texas, in conjunction with local governments and the FAAs Airport Improvement Plan (AIP) monies, has purchased 16 state of the art Automated Weather Observing Systems (AWOS). The AWOS are already installed throughout Texas and all but one already commissioned for operational use by the FAA. These AWOS' contain heated tipping buckets for measurement of precipitation, and lightning sensors to include thunderstorm data in their observations.

Unfortunately, long line dissemination of the observations was not an option chosen by the state. As such, observations from these 16 sites are now only available via ground-to-air VHF radio or telephone voice dial-in.

SRH has been granted permission by the state to access the data using PROCOMM and/or LDADS. It is the intent of SRH to work with the AWOS vendor and provide each WFO in Texas and adjacent states with a turnkey system that would enable the WFOs to access the data for operational use. It is hoped that real-time ingest of this data will enhance our public services and products in these communities, as well as possibly improve the output from real-time operational models such as LAPS and MSAS.

FALL PROTECTION TRAINING SCHEDULED. NWSH has scheduled classes beginning in May at NWSTC for electronics personnel, facility engineering technicians, and certain hydrology personnel who must climb towers or structures as part of their job description. The classes will differ for those who are required to climb towers greater than 100 ft and those less than 100 ft. Both classes will cover rescue techniques not included in earlier classes. For those who have previously received training that did not include rescue, a separate course is being planned for that portion alone. The attendees have been asked to provide their names and harness sizes so that classes can begin in May. Funding for transportation and lodging is being provided by NWSH. Completion of this course should allow the certified climber to perform duties that are presently off limits as a result of a finding by the NOAA Office of General Counsel that prohibited safety harnesses unless specific training had been given on their use.

WFO HUMIDIFIER MODIFICATIONS PROPOSED. Modifications to Shreveport's Armstrong HVAC humidifier may be incorporated into other sites that have the units shut down due to the inability of the unit to operate on the typical hard water found in various sites across the Southern Region. A description of the modifications by a local HVAC contractor in Shreveport will be reviewed with the different manufacturers for compatibility and then incorporated if appropriate. The use of a humidifier can lower static electricity discharges in dry climates and elsewhere during the winter season when the relative humidity is very low.

UPCOMING HVAC UPGRADES IN WORK FOR SR SITES. The long-planned HVAC modifications at Miami, Jacksonville, and Brownsville are still funded by NWSH, and in varying stages of work. The mods have begun in Miami and are planned to be complete before the end of May, before hurricane season begins. The posting for the Jacksonville mods in the Commerce Business Daily should occur in May, and the Brownsville RFP is out for pricing, and is due in early May.

CSSA MODERNIZATION. The new Cooperative Station Service Accountability (CSSA) software will reside on an Oracle server and updates to the database will be accomplished using a Web Browser. The structure of the new database has been under development for several months. This has also been coordinated with NCDC and with the AWIPS implementation group to be certain that all users are properly served by the new software. The timetable for this project calls for test of the new system to start late this summer and be available for use by early 2001.

DATALOGGERS. Dataloggers for the Fischer & Porter (F&P) rain gages are being purchased by NWSH. A total of 24 units will be purchased to test the new data collection system. These 24 units will be distributed to the Regions and then to selected WFOs for testing alongside current F&P units that still have punch tapes. The timetable for this project calls for field testing to start this summer.

NWS COOPERATIVE OBSERVER. An NWS Cooperative Observer home page is available at NWSH. This page has many interesting links and is a valuable resource for the management of the program. The URL for the site is: http://www.coop.nws.noaa.gov/.

RADIOSONDE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM.Information on the Radiosonde Replacement System (RRS) and monthly performance statistics are available on the Internet. The URL for this information is: http://www.ua.nws.noaa.gov/. This information source is kept as current as possible, and all Upper Air offices should access this information on a routine basis.

WSOH 10. WSOH 10 has undergone a final review and NWSH is preparing the document for final signature by the Director. This will result in the new manual being available by late summer. With this update we will be able to return to a written test for certification of a U/A observer. Expect the tests to be distributed late in the summer.

DATA ACQUISITION TEAM. The data acquisition team at NWSFO El Paso was the highest rated Upper Air group in the nation for the second consecutive month. Of a possible 300 score, this team was able to attain a rating of 299.18 for the month of February and a rating of 298.40 for the month of March. Congratulation to this team for a job well done. A complete list of the rating and other details on the Upper Air Program are available at: http://www.ua.nws.noaa.gov/dataqc.htm.

ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION

DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES

NWSO BROWNSVILLE. Jim Campbell, DAPM, and Alfredo (Fred) Vega , HMT, participated in the Russell Elementary Career Day. Three hundred forty-two students from grades 3-5 visited their table. Locally made handouts, Owlie Skywarn Hurricane brochures, and Billy and Maria coloring books were handed out. A TV/VCR was set up behind the table and tornado videos were shown during their presentation. Covered topics included skills, education and preparation needed for careers in meteorology. The students were prepared in advance to ask pertinent questions about NWS careers. Fred conducted several interviews in Spanish.

Jim and met intern Mike Castillo also participated in the Villa Nueva Career Day where 345 students from grades 1-5 visited the NWS booth. Locally made handouts, with special emphasis on hurricanes and severe weather, were given to each class. Mike made several presentations in Spanish for the non-English speaking students.

NWSFO FORT WORTH. Forecaster Roland Nunez gave a general weather talk at Lily B. Clayton Elementary. Most of the 95 students in attendance, ranging from kindergarten to 5th grade, were minority.

RFC TULSA. Hydrologist Tracy Howieson and HAS forecaster Larry Lowe participated in Career Day at the University of Oklahoma. Tracy and Larry met with students of various scientific backgrounds, informed them about daily hydrologic operations, and distributed SCEP application packets.

The ABRFC and the NWSFO Tulsa held a joint open house. Hydrologists Janet McCormick and Tracy Howieson, HAS forecaster Larry Lowe, and DOH Bill Lawrence gave tours and brief discussions about the daily operations at a river forecast center.

The ABRFC and the NWSFO Tulsa joined forces to field their first team ever in the fifteenth annual Corporate Challenge on March 11 and 12, and April 8, 9 and 15. As the nation's largest community-based corporate athletic competition, this event hosts over 25,000 participants from 350 corporate teams. It is sponsored jointly by the Saint Francis Health System and the corporate community of Tulsa. The competition promotes fitness and a healthy lifestyle across the community by offering challenges for all persons regardless of their fitness level, age, or sex. Activities ranged from individual age-grouped running and biking competitions to co-ed team events such as tug-of-war, relay races, volleyball, golf and bowling. Events are designed to emphasize participation over athletic ability with events like the 1.5 mile fitness walk, where the team score is based solely on the percentage of your employees completing the walk.

Their team goal was to get as many employees to compete in as many events as possible. Of the 34 events available, they successfully participated in all 12 team events, and only missed 6 individual events where they had eligible participants. This level of participation required tremendous teamwork and cooperation from all employees of the NWSFO and ABRFC, not only by giving up free time for practicing and participating, but also by making shift changes to enable coworkers to do so.

Final results are not yet in, but they definitely expect to place in the top 10 out of the 40 teams in their division. Additionally, they have received many smaller victories in pursuit of their goal, from seeing the HIC and MIC run to a second place victory in a relay race, to the support given by teammates to each other after losing 3 volleyball matches in a row. Mostly though, they have been able to learn more about each other by working together as one team.

NWSFO NEW ORLEANS. Service hydrologist Dave Smith is the Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Board Chairperson for the New Orleans Federal Executive Board (FEB). Dave spearheaded the FEB Federal Women's Program workshop which had over 700 attendees, and featured over 20 concurrent workshops.

NWSO MIDLAND. Michael Young, HMT and Employment Program Manager for Persons with Disabilities, participated in a career day at Taylor Elementary School in Hobbs, New Mexico. For his part, Michael addressed 13 classes of first through sixth graders, about 260 students. Approximately 95 percent were minorities, and about 60 percent female. A number of hearing impaired students were in attendance, so the school provided the speakers with a short distance radio transmitter microphone, and the hearing impaired students were provided with ear-piece receivers. One student was provided a sign language interpreter.

NWSO TALLAHASSEE. Senior forecaster and EEO focal point Ron Block (along with Tony Cristaldi of NWSO Melbourne) helped staff a NOAA booth at the National Science Teachers Association meeting in Orlando last month. Ron provided teachers with a strong knowledge base in meteorology, working long hours in the booth. Florida teachers were especially interested in Ron's presentation of the Florida Hazardous Weather Awareness Guide, an outstanding publication which resulted from a State/NWS cooperative effort. He brought other relevant educational materials to the exhibit as well. More than 15,000 teachers and school officials participated, the majority composed of women and/or minorities hailing from southern states. He also participated in a panel discussion entitled "Hurricane George: Lessons Learned," an event during which he served as senior forecaster. Ron was congratulated for his assistance by the NOAA headquarters staff.

Ron also lectured (in Spanish) about meteorology as a career with emphasis on NWS options at the National Hispanic Education Benefit at Florida State University. The benefit, featuring singer Rueben Blades, promoted career advancement for Hispanics in north Florida. He also discussed NOAA career options, focusing on opportunities for those physically challenged, at the Tallahassee Easter Seals Benefit. Ron also participated in a career fair at Tallahassee's Lincoln High School, and began discussions with the Florida Big Bend Red Cross chapter on developing a High School Science Class Mitigation Activity. This activity stresses the need to build disaster resistant neighborhoods, focusing on areas of high minority concentration.

MIC Paul Duval discussed science education with a focus on minority programs and careers in NOAA with the Florida A&M University President and other school officials. Florida A&M is a noted minority servicing institution located in Tallahassee. He also judged exhibits at the Tallahassee Chaires Elementary School fair and conducted interviews with the Discovery Channel staff on severe weather warnings. WCM Bob Goree discussed hurricane preparedness with town officials in Franklin County, Florida. The office staff provided a lecture and demonstration of their upper air program to the local Civil Air Patrol.

NWSO SHREVEPORT. Staff at the NWSO were busy with tours, talks and career days at local schools. Following are just a few:

DAPM Marion Kuykendall and forecaster Mary Keiser gave a tour and a talk on the operations of the NWS to 30 students from Midway Middle School in Shreveport. The school is a predominantly black school.

Forecaster Bill Parker gave a talk on the operations of the NWS to 80 students from West Shreveport Elementary School in Shreveport, another predominantly black school.

MIC Lee Harrison and Bill Parker presented job opportunities in various NOAA fields, including meteorology, biology, computer science and administrative positions during career day at Southern University of Shreveport-Bossier City. Marion, Bill, and ESA Mike Waddell participated in career day at Wiley College in Marshall, Texas, a predominantly black college. Job opportunities in various NOAA fields were presented, along with Internet addresses on government jobs.

The NWSO hosted a diversity workshop, inviting managers and employees from the surrounding offices and SRH to participate. Stephan Smith, NWS diversity coordinator, was the featured speaker. Steve's slide show, focusing on managing diversity and how it relates to the NWS, sparked lively dialogue among the participants. Kudos to forecaster Bill Parker for arranging this informative seminar, and to MIC Lee Harrison, ASA Lisa Farrar, and other staff members who helped make this seminar a success.

NWSO MELBOURNE. MIC Bart Hagemeyer reported that one of the NWSO's last SCEP students is now working for the NOAA Corps. Catherine Martin, ENS/NOAA graduated from the Florida Institute of Technology with a B.S. in Aviation Management/Flight Technology in May 1998, and a B.S. in Aviation Meteorology in December 1998. Her degree led her to earn a Multi-Engine Commercial Instrument pilot's license. Her main responsibility at the NWSO was broadcasting weather reports on the NOAA Weather Radio. She also worked at the Florida Solar Energy Center in Cocoa, Florida, assisting in the testing and certification of domestic hot water solar collectors and pool collectors. After graduation, ENS Martin reported to the NOAA ship Ronald H. Brown.

SOUTHERN REGION WORKFORCE TRANSACTIONS

APRIL 1 - 30, 2000

Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
James Reynolds WFO EPZ Promotion to WR Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Link Crawford WFO LZK Reassignment to CR Forecaster, GS-12
Jeffrey Borzilleri WFO MLB Resignation Forecaster, GS-12
Renwick Brannon WSO HSV Resignation Met Tech, GS-8



Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Shirley Leslie WFO MLB Transfer from DOD ASA, GS-7


Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Raymond Sondag WFO LCH Promotion to LCH Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Mary Keiser WFO SHV Reassignment to SHV Forecaster, GS-12

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