UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
May 1, 1998
KELLY APPOINTS SENIOR STAFF. On Monday, March 30, 1998, Julian (Skip) Wright reported to duty from his previous appointment as Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services. Skip's new title is Senior Advisor to the Assistant Administrator for Weather Services (NWS Director: Jack Kelly). Skip has been assigned three particularly important tasks: implementation of the Kelly Report, the development of the NWS strategic vision for the 21st century; and the examination of the needed structure and staffing of NWS Headquarters.
Also recently appointed as Acting Deputy Assistant Administrator has been John Jones from the Deputy Regional Director position in Eastern Region Headquarters. Among many other tasks, John has been assigned the critical management of the problems with the FY-98 budget as well as organizing and better monitoring the NWS budget process. I've worked with John on many field operational items and we are very gratified to have his field organizational insight on the NWSH senior team.
Another vital member of Kelly's senior staff is Captain Don Winter, NOAA Corps, as the Chief, Executive Officer of the National Weather Service. Don handles a myriad of operational NWS/NOAA items and the many headquarters and field organizational challenges faced by this complex agency we call NWS. Don's exceptional diplomacy and tact makes him a valuable contribution to the strengthening of the "oneness" of the National Weather Service.
Southern Region joins in welcoming Skip, John and Don to their new roles and responsibilities.
TEXAS EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT DIVISION THANKS HOUSTON EMPLOYEES. Tom Millwee, State head of the Governor's Emergency Mangement Division recently extended his appreciation of Houston MIC, Bill Read and Lead Forecaster, Josh Lichter for their 4 hour instruction of local government, emergency management and law enforcement officials on severe weather with an emphasis on hurricanes. This presentation was so impressive that 27 attendees responded immediately with accolades about the quality of the presentations.
DOC AND NOAA AWARDS PRESENTED AT LAKE CHARLES. I had the recent pleasure of presenting the National Weather Service Office in Lake Charles a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Unit Citation for its superior efforts in the development and maintenance of the Co-Operative Observation Program by setting standards used throughout the country.
The Co-Operative Observation Program is a national program using volunteer weather observers to provide temperature and rainfall data to the NWS and into the national climatic data base. Almost 100 Observers across southwest and central LA and southeast TX provide such information daily to NWS Lake Charles. These observers have maintained a 100% data collection rate the last several years.
It was also my pleasure to award Mr. Ellie H. Pittman the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal for his efforts in restructuring this vital program as part of the national modernization of the NWS. His innovative procedures have been applied nationwide throughout the NWS.
NWSFO TULSA ELECTRONIC TECHNICIAN STAFF RECOGNIZED. I would like to convey my sincere appreciation to Isaiah Daniels, Charlie A. Lake, and Donald Spohn for the outstanding electronics support they contributed during FY 1997. The installation and support of the WSR-88D in Fort Smith and the implementation of AWIPS in the Tulsa WFO was exemplary. Their active involvement and dedication exemplifies the culture of NWS employees when challenged by the new and much more complex modernization systems of the NWS.
GENE POAG, 1940-1998. We are saddened to learn of the death of Gene Poag, who had retired as MIC of the Tri-Cities/Bristol Office in 1994. Gene began his "Weather Bureau" career at Burwood, LA which later moved to become the Boothville office at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Gene went on to serve at WSOs: Jacksonville, Swan Island, Jackson, Mould Bay, Bethel, Anchorage, Tampa, Victoria, Pt. Barrow before transfering to NWS Headquarters in late 1979. He later served as operations chief at Honolulu (PRH), then on to SOD in Ft. Worth (SRH) and as MIC at Bristol in 1988. Gene is survived by his wife, Chris, and a son and two daughters. The family may be addressed at 1104 Lebanon Rd., Kingsport, TN 37664.
BUILD 4.0 UP AND RUNNING IN NORMAN. Congratulations to the staff at NWSFO OUN on the successful installation of Build 4.0. The office had only minor problems with the installation procedures. Recommendations from their experience will be passed on to other offices, so the time spent to upgrade and relocalize the system can be minimized.
SITE SURVEYS. All offices waiting on site surveys, should be thinking about how the AWIPS equipment will be placed within the office. We have several site surveys underway this month within the Region:
San Angelo,(SJT) TX May 01
Midland/Odessa,(MAF) TX May 04
El Paso,(EPZ) TX May 06
Albuquerque,(ABQ) NM May 08
Lake Charles,(LCH) LA May 27
Shreveport,(SHV) LA May 29
All site surveys within the Region should be completed by the end of the year, so it is not too early to start thinking about it.
SMG SUPPORTS FIRST FREE FLIGHT OF X-38. Forecasters with the National Weather Service Spaceflight Meteorology Group (SMG) provided weather support for the first drop test and free flight of the NASA X-38 vehicle. The X-38 is expected to replace a Russian Soyuz spacecraft as an emergency crew return vehicle attached to the future International Space Station. Weather elements, particularly winds, play an important role in the initial testing of the X-38. The X-38 uses a parafoil during its descent and landing. SMG meteorologists in cooperation with the meteorological analysis group at NASA Dryden and the USAF 412th OSS Weather Flight at Edwards Air Force Base in California provided detailed weather observations, analysis, and forecasts of conditions for the first free flight. The remotely controlled X-38 flew and landed under nearly ideal weather conditions on the morning of March 12, 1998.
For the first few test flights, weather conditions and winds are required to be quite good. Current weather flight rules for the X-38 require that surface wind speeds be less than 15 kt average and that peak winds be less than 19 kt. Speeds for winds aloft vary with altitude, but must generally be less than a maximum of 45 kt. The maximum mean wind speeds obtained from the Edwards AFB upper air climatography for the month of March is 43 kt in the layer below the first test drop altitude of 23,000 ft. Initial plans to conduct the flight on March 7 were postponed in part by SMG forecasts of winds near the flight rule limits (which subsequently verified). Day of flight winds were quite light throughout the depth of the X-38 flight path. Maximum wind speed measured by weather balloon prior to the X-38 flight and landing were only 16 kt.
Skies were clear except for a few thin cirrus clouds on the western horizon from the Haystack Butte landing site near Edwards AFB at landing time. Nearest measured winds were north at only 1 kt with a peak to 4 kt in the previous ten minutes. The temperature was 57F and the altimeter setting was 30.06 in Hg.
Future flight tests of the X-38 will be conducted from higher drop altitudes and will culminate with an orbital test flight on the Space Shuttle and subsequent landing.
SMG meteorologists providing real-time weather analysis and forecasts for the first free flight were Tim Garner (Lead), Mark Keehn, Dan Bellue, Wayne Baggett, Rich Lafosse, and Tim Oram.
NWSFO MIAMI AT DADE COUNTY FAIR. Staff members from NWSFO Miami, with much support from TPC, HRD, the CWSU in Miami, and CARCAH staffed a booth at the Dade County Fair and Expo. This was a massive undertaking, with approximately 30 staff members working a total of 300 hours during the fair's 18 days. The Fair provided free booth space and a large-screen TV. The TV was used to provide live WSR-88D data (courtesy of an NIDS vendor) and hazardous weather video. The staff handed out 2,000 El Niño brochures and as many other hazardous weather brochures and posters as they could find. The regional Radio Shack distributor donated three NWR units which were raffled off (the booth received 1,950 entries) and approximately 250 visitors made comments about Miami's NWR broadcasts.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT SUPPORT. Offices across the region are continuing their strong support of local emergency management. Some highlights are listed below.
NWSO Corpus Christi hosted the South Texas Flash Flood and River Flood Symposium in Port Lavaca, Texas. The symposium attracted approximately 100 emergency managers, government officials, and representatives from other concerned agencies. The agenda featured presentations from NWSO Corpus Christi, the West Gulf RFC, Texas A&M University, and several river authorities. The seminar featured dissemination and response to flood-related products as well as hydrometeoroloigcal presentations.
NWSO El Paso WCM Jack Mercer has made considerable progress with his spotter training program. After providing training for the firefighters stationed at El Paso Airport, Jack was asked to make presentations for all of the El Paso Fire Department personnel (about 500). Jack also presented the program to the most recent graduating class from El Paso's fire academy. After the successful training course, Jack learned that the spotter training course will become a permanent part of the El Paso Fire Training Academy curriculum.
MEDIA SUPPORT. With this year's active spring about to give way to hurricane season, our offices have been the subject of considerable media coverage recently. Some of the more noteworthy projects are listed below.
HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS. As we move into May, we have less than 1 month before the start of the 1998 hurricane season. Only time will tell regarding the activity and impacts we will experience this year, but our coastal offices are using this time to prepare for the season.
The NWS Offices in Corpus Christi, Lake Charles, Slidell, Mobile, and Tampa Bay have been busily organizing local activities in support of the 1998 Gulf Coast Hurricane Preparedness Tour. The tour will make five stops along the coast, with three main areas of emphasis. First, we will provide hurricane briefings to approximately 400 students at each stop. Second, we will engage in seminars and workshops for the public, emergency managers, and other concerned officials. Third, we will work with the media to promote our hurricane preparedness message.
NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge WCM Frank Revitte participated in a two-day hurricane training course conducted by the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness. The course was directed at universities and colleges in the New Orleans area and was based on FEMA's hurricane preparedness course for emergency managers. Frank made a two-hour presentation on hurricane forecasting, including NHC and NWSFO responsibilities and forecast products, hurricane observation systems, forecast uncertainties, and a simple hurricane plotting and decision exercise.
POUNDING THE PAVEMENT. NWSO Corpus Christi Forecaster Robert Luna has been active on the school preparedness trail recently. Robert has spoken to nearly 500 students across the Corpus Christi CWA, from elementary school students to middle-school meteorology classes to high school students considering a career in the science. Robert's presentation subjects have ranged from numerical weather prediction to careers in meteorology to severe weather preparedness.
FORT SMITH WEATHER FAIR. Steve Piltz (WCM), Richard Uber (FIC), and Lans Rothfusz (MIC) from the Tulsa WFO and Forrest Johns (OIC) of the Fort Smith WSO participated in a Weather Fair held at the Central Mall in Fort Smith, AR on April 25. Along with the NWS, three major TV networks were represented, as was a radio station, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. A major attraction was a storm intercept van from The National Severe Storms Laboratory. (Thanks, NSSL!) Turnout was exceptional and brochures went fast. One of the hottest documents was a simple area map with counties identified. It's surprising how few people know the names of counties around them. Several interviews highlighted NWR-SAME technology. Unfortunately, the mall's Radio Shack was unprepared for the high demand for SAME weather radios. They sent most of their stock to Alabama earlier. Although they had requested 100 radios from their suppliers, they only had two to sell. These were sold within minutes of opening.
QPF FROM ICWF. The Tulsa WFO has begun issuing its Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF) product using the Interactive Computer Worded Forecast (ICWF) software. The ICWF generates the same output as that of the PC-based WinQPF program, but it does so on the AWIPS platform. A significant amount of work was done by the staffs of the ABRFC and the OHRFC to make the output compatible with RFC applications. Thanks to all who contributed!
NOAA WEATHER RADIO
CRS Policy. A memorandum from the Southern Region Director is forthcoming detailing policies and guidelines for the installation and operational use of the Console Replacement System (CRS). The CRS will be fully deployed by the end of this calendar year. CRS will provide your office with a more efficient way to program your NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts.
Venice NWR. A Memorandum of Agreement has been signed between the Sarasota County Division of Emergency Management and the NWS Southern Region for the broadcast of NOAA Weather Radio to the people of southern Sarasota County. If all goes according to plan, broadcasts from the Tampa Bay Area NWSO will commence on June 1, 1998, the first day of hurricane season.
Active NWR Promotion. SERFC hydrologist, Jack Bushong, recently wrote a letter to the editor of the Orlando Sentinel. His letter was published on March 3. Here are some excerpts:
Reading some of the letters to the editor that discuss the lack of sirens in central Florida, I was amazed at how no one seems to know about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Weather Radio.
This device, which was explained in a February 25 Sentinel article, will sound an alarm when a severe weather warning is issued by the NWS. Regardless of where you hear about them, all storm warnings are issued by the NWS, which is overseen by NOAA.
The weather radios cost between $10.00 and $50.00 and are available at most electronics stores. If you purchase a radio with the alarm feature, it will automatically activate when the NWS meteorologist issues a warning. You can then listen to the warning message. This can be a life-saver if you are asleep or do not have the television or radio on.
I have given one to my parents, who live in Orange City, Florida, and am donating one to my church. You should also make sure your school has one.
Please educate the public about this extremely important service.
Nice letter, Jack. You've done a nice job of educating the public about NWR yourself!
Short Term Forecasts. One of the STAR assignments this spring was to look at quality control issues regarding Short Term Forecasts. The first month at SRH was spent reading every Short Term Forecast issued by every Southern Region office during January and February. For the February products, much of this was done in "real time", looking at current conditions, radar, and satellite images and comparing those to the current zone and short term forecasts. Some were very good; most were in the okay category; and some were less-than-valuable additions to the product suite. An HTML document summing up the "new" and "re-emphasized" requirements for the Short Term Forecast that will be addressed in OMLs and ROMLs due out in early June, has been distributed to field offices. It's intended to serve as a framework adaptable to local needs by the SOO and/or NOW quality control team. Offices should feel free to incorporate local guidelines, delete portions that don't apply, add new sections, jazz it up, change the colors, animate, etc.
TWISTER. A second STAR assignment was participation in Project TWISTER. The project wrapped up the first weekend in May, having given 21 local high school students an inside look at NWS forecasting and warning operations. Training materials and presentations were translated into electronic format this year, some of which will be used in computer labs at local high schools in support of the physics departments and meteorology clubs. Several participants are formulating plans to continue their involvement with the project through additional work on training materials and computer presentations.
HYDROMET NEWS. Pat Sneeringer, senior hydrologic forecaster at WGRFC and regional HYDROMET focal point, and Bob Carle, the new SR WFO Hydrologic Program Manager, visited NWSO Mobile and NWSFOs Atlanta and Birmingham during the week of March 23. Bob Carle used this trip as an opportunity to familiarize himself with the technical and operational support required for HYDROMET. Pat visited NWSOs Corpus Christi, Houston/ Galveston, and Lake Charles and NWSFO Austin/San Antonio during the week of April 13. Each office received technical assistance and/or local training depending on their needs. This included HYDROMET computer hardware and software, configuring systems for dial-out interrogation, setting up HYDROMET connections to AFOS, and verifying phone line connections between the ALERT systems and the HYDROMET computer.
We plan to complete the HYDROMET project by the fall time frame or sooner. During this time frame, we will also distribute a HYDROMET handbook containing user documentation. Bob Carle will transition to take over the regional HYDROMET focal point position. Please join me in thanking Pat for his implementation of the HYDROMET system in SR.
HYDROLOGIC PRODUCTS ON EMWIN. The Office of Hydrology recently coordinated with the Office of Systems Operations to add hydrologic products to EMWIN. Some of the products have already been added and more will be added in the near future. We will provide all SR offices with a copy of the letter defining the products that will be added. Please look at the INTERNET version (IWIN) of EMWIN for more information. The URL is: http://iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/graphicsversion/main.html (graphics version) or
http:// iwin.nws.noaa.gov/iwin/textversion/main.html (text version)
River flood statements can be found in the graphics version by clicking on local weather, the state you want, then watches and warnings. In the text version, click on state data, the state, then watches and warnings.
If you have any comments or suggestions for the IWIN graphical user interface associated with the river flood warning and statements and other hydrologic products, please share them with SR HSD.
SOUTH TEXAS FLOOD CONFERENCE. On April 2, Ben Weiger, deputy chief of SR HSD, attended the South Texas River Flood and Flash Flood Conference held in Port Lavaca, TX. Joe Arellano, MIC NWSO Corpus Christi and his staff did an excellent job hosting and planning the conference. Ben had an opportunity to network with many officials from different local, state, and federal agencies in south Texas, including officials from the Lower Colorado River Authority, Upper Guadalupe River Authority, and Texas A&M University. In route to Port Lavaca, Ben met with staff at NWSO Houston/Galveston to familiarize himself with hydrologic operations in southeast Texas.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Palmer Drought Index. Most recent Palmer Drought Index values reveal wetter than normal soil moisture over most of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma, eastern Tennessee and the mountains of New Mexico. March rainfalls were above normal in many parts of the Southern Region, but a period of dry, windy weather in the lower Mississippi Valley helped temporarily reduce soil moisture values.
Water Supply Forecast for New Mexico. Ed Polasko, senior service hydrologist at NWSFO Albuquerque, reports that the water supply forecast for New Mexico for the period April through July 1998 ranges from below average in the northwest to well above average in the southwest. Mainstem Rio Grande flow is forecast to be below average due to the below normal snowpack in southern Colorado and in the Rio Chama Basin.
Florida Flooding. NWSO Jacksonville hydrologic focal point, Robert Kerns, provided HSD with a summary of the recent flood impacts in his HSA. Here are a couple of excerpts:
Columbia County, Florida - An estimated 1100 residents were affected by river flooding with voluntary evacuations for many residents continuing into March. Damage is estimated at $800,000 with 150-200 homes still inaccessible.
Suwannee County, Florida - Mandatory evacuations continued along the Suwannee River in early March. Residents have been urged to boil water before use. Damage estimates are at $1.3 million. Two hundred homes have been affected by river flooding with 70 homes affected by ponding.
Too Wet in Tampa. The Tampa Bay HSA received above normal rainfall for March. This continues the wet regime begun months ago. Since December, four-month rainfall totals include 36.19 in at Tampa International Airport, 39.45 in at Sarasota/Bradenton and 40.17 in at New Port Richey. The normal rainfall amount for this time period is around 10 in.
All rivers in the HSA were above flood at some time during the month with several setting March stage records. The Manatee River at Myakka Head tied its all-time record of 18.08 ft which was set last November. This marked the 5th consecutive time a monthly stage record was set at this point.
South Alabama Flooding. Heavy rains fell over southern Alabama between March 6 and March 9. Four-day amounts in the 8 to 12 in range caused significant flooding. Escambia County received $1,040,000 worth of damage to homes with additional damage done to roads and bridges. In Brewton, saturated soil at a gas station caused a buried gasoline storage tank to rise completely to the surface. NWSO Mobile hydrologic focal point, Keith Williams, points out no deaths or injuries occurred as a result of the heavy rain event. Keith toured the hard hit areas with a video camera and a 35 mm camera to help document the damage for the Mobile staff.
More High Water Tales. NWSFO Little Rock service hydrologist, Steve Bays, says all streams in his HSA were at or near bankfull, if not in flood during March. His March 13 Flood Potential Outlook indicated a greater than normal chance of flooding in the near term. The White, Black, Ouachita, Cache, Petit Jean and Fourche La Fave rivers exceeded flood stage at ten sites. According to Steve, had the flooding occurred during growing season, considerable agricultural dollar losses would have been realized.
Shreveport Update. NWSO Shreveport service hydrologist, Craig Ross, says March rainfall in his HSA ranged from 4-7 in. Included in this amount was a heavy rain event causing a rise to 8 ft above conservation pool at Denison Dam on the Red River.
Not Enough Water. With all the talk of flooding and above normal rainfall, there are still areas within Southern Region where rainfall is needed. In Deep South Texas, reservoir levels remain exceptionally low. NWSO Brownsville hydrologic focal point, Freddie Vega, reports the Falcon Reservoir level was 259.04 ft in mid-April. This is the lowest level measured since last September, and is less than 10 ft from the record low level of 249.82 ft measured August 20, 1996. Normal conservation level is 301.2 ft. Deep South Texas did experience some above normal rains last autumn, however, most of the rains did not yield substantial runoff in the major reservoir drainages.
Field Trip. NWSFO Lubbock service hydrologist, Steve Drillette, and NWSO Amarillo hydrologic focal point, Lance Goehring, visited two Canadian River forecast points. While the sites are in the NWSFO Albuquerque HSA, they are just a few miles from the Texas Panhandle and the NWSO Amarillo HSA. Information acquired will serve Lance and the Amarillo staff well, but was also forwarded to Albuquerque senior service hydrologist, Ed Polasko, for his and the Albuquerque staff's benefit.
NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
SOUTHEAST RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Visitors from China. On March 15, a delegation of 10 hydrologists from the Ministry of Water Resources in China visited the SERFC. Reggina Garza, senior hydrologist, gave a presentation about hydrologic operations at the RFC and also answered questions from the delegation about the NWSRFS. Bill Schaub, Don Silva, and Muata Masuka from the NWSFO Atlanta gave the delegation a presentation about the capabilities of the WSR-88D and the Upper Air program.
Travel News. On March 31, John Feldt, HIC, visited Albany, GA. He met with local officials and officials from FEMA and GEMA to discuss flood forecasting on the Flint River. On April 1, John and Jack Bushong, HAS forecaster, visited with Florida State University (FSU) officials and made a presentation to a senior meteorology class on hydrometeorological operations in the NWS. FSU staff indicated an interest in collaborating with the SERFC on several topics related to hydrometeorology. They also expressed an interest to visit the RFC.
ARKANSAS RED BASIN RIVER FORECAST CENTER
River Forecast Verification. The ABRFC has developed a Web page describing their first year experience with issuing QPF vs non-QPF river forecasts. The page shows Root Mean Square Error values for both forecasts for a one-year period for all of their daily forecast points. This information provides good feedback to forecasters on the use of QPF in river forecasts. Please see http://www.abrfc.noaa.gov/qpfver2/fcstver.html for more details.
LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Ol Man River. On April 2, Dave Smith, senior service hydrologist NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge and Dave Reed, HIC, LMRFC participated in one day of the Corps of Engineers (COE) and Mississippi River Commission (MRC) semi-annual inspection tour of the Mississippi River. In the spring during high water, the COE/MRC have an inspection trip lasting a week from St. Louis to the mouth of the river on the COE ship Mississippi. On April 2, the Daves departed the Old River Lock in Simmesport, LA, at 8:00 a.m. and arrived at Donaldsonville at 5:30 p.m. In addition to members of the MRC, numerous local and state officials from the Mississippi/Atchafalaya basin were present. The COE/MRC will hold the low water inspection tour in the fall.
Amite River Basin Commission Activities. In conjunction with the NWS, USGS and COE, the Amite River Basin Commission (ARBC) has developed a flood tracking chart for the 3300 square mile drainage in south-central Louisiana. This flood tracking chart provides residents in the basin a history of previous floods in the basin to allow comparison with forecasted flood crests by the NWS. The ARBC presented the chart to the parish police juries in the parishes that the Amite Basin encompasses. Dave Smith and Dave Reed accompanied representatives from the USGS and ARBC to the presentation ceremony in St. James Parish, south of Baton Rouge, LA, on April 1. Dave Reed also attended a similar ceremony for East Baton Rouge Parish and the City of Baton Rouge on April 20. Paul Trotter, MIC, NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge and Dave Reed presented the NWS activities in the Amite River Basin at the ARBC monthly meeting on April 21.
WEST GULF RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Meetings Galore. During the past month, WGRFC personnel participated in many meetings. On April 7, Pete Corrigan, hydrologist, gave a presentation to a Johnson County, TX, rural water supply group on El Niño and potential flood problems in the county. On April 9, Paul Greer, senior hydrologist, and Frank Bell, hydrologist, attended the annual Upper Rio Grande meeting with the NRCS, COE and Colorado and New Mexico state officials regarding the spring flood/snowmelt potential. On April 23, Dave Morris, HIC, gave a presentation on RFC hydrologic forecast operations at a local chapter meeting of the AMS in Houston, TX. Finally, on April 29 and 30, Jack Kaitala, hydrologist, gave a presentation on RFC forecast operations at a hydrologic workshop in Houston, TX, sponsored by the local NWS office and the Harris County Office of Emergency Management.
Technology Transfer Project. On April 6-7, 1998, engineers from the Mexican Surface Water and Engineering Group and the Mexican Water Technology Institute were given an overview on daily RFC forecast operations by the staff at the WGRFC. This visit was sponsored by the Office of Hydrology's (OH) Technology Transfer Project. Representatives from the OH and Riverside Technologies, Inc. (RTI), a contractor for the OH, were also present at this 2-day workshop. The representative from the OH briefed the Mexican engineers and RFC staff about the NWS Technology Transfer Project in Mexico. The RTI representative gave a presentation about NWS River Forecast System (RFS) training for the Mexican nationals. The Mexican engineers in attendance gave presentations about their organizations and also spoke about their future use of the NWSRFS to support hydrologic forecast operations in Mexico. There was also discussion about sharing hydrometeorological information between the two countries. Thanks to the staff at WGRFC for assisting in this international project.
TROPICAL TALKS. Forecasters from NWSO Melbourne visited Miami in late March to provide a pair of seminars at NCEP/NHC and the Hurricane Research Division of AOML. Dr. Chris Landsea (AOML/HRD) responded with kudos:
This letter is to express my appreciation for the recent visit of Mr. Dave Sharp, Mr. Scott Spratt and Mr. Steve Hodanish to Miami for their pair of talks: Tropical Cyclone Outer Rainband Tornadogenesis - WSR-88D Detection, Recognition, and Warning (at NHC) ... and Tropical Cyclone Josephine (1996) - Radar and Total Lightning Signatures (at AOML). These talks were extremely well received and have fostered continuing interaction between NOAA's research and forecasting communities. It is gratifying to see such fine applied research being conducted at a NWSO by these gentlemen.
Dave and the others also spoke to the South Florida AMS Chapter and had other meetings with AOML/HRD staff.
360 DEGREE PERFORMANCE FEEDBACK. At the recent Southern Region MIC/HIC meeting in Fort Worth, NWSO Amarillo MIC Jose Garcia described how his office has adapted a "360 degree feedback" process to improve their operations. It allows for goal setting, gives employees a direct feedback mechanism, and encourages communication among all staff members. To encourage other offices which may want to experiment with a similar approach, Jose provided a summary which we have included as a technical attachment this week.
INTERNATIONAL OUTREACH. On April 1, Dr. Pat Welsh, NWSO Jacksonville SOO, was contacted by an individual in Canada who wanted to know if nighttime infrared images could reliably identify forest fires in Brazil - Amazon and Guyana - Roraima. Why Canada...why Pat? The e-mailer had obtained Pat's address from the Jacksonville's home page on the World Wide Web. Pat was able to provide him with an affirmative answer, since the new GOES satellites indeed have the capability to detect forest fires using the 3.9 micron infrared channel, one of the many improvements over the previous generation of satellites. Pat was also able to send additional e-mail providing more information about the 3.9 micron channel and where to find Internet information about fire detection using the GOES data. Some of this information was provided to the CARICOM secretariat and Guyana government as well as the UNDP. All of this resulted in the UN Resident Representative in Guyana requesting (and receiving) assistance from NOAA. Satellite maps have apparently now been delivered by NOAA to assist in this fire crisis.
VORTEX SEMINAR AT JACKSON. Irv Watson, SOO at NWSO Tallahassee, provided a seminar at NWSFO Jackson in early April, describing his participation in the VORTEX project in 1994 while he was at NSSL. Twenty-four people attended, including NWSFO staff, members of the Jackson Chapter of the AMS, and ten meteorology students and faculty from Jackson State University. Irv showed some great slides of research aircraft and airborne Doppler radar used in the project, tornadoes studied, and data from the Doppler-on-wheels (DOW). He also discussed the weak echo hole (WEH) tornado signature that has been seen on high resolution Doppler products. He concluded with important guidelines for warning meteorologists using Doppler data.
STATION SEMINARS. The NWSO Midland/Odessa staff recently conducted two station seminars. On the agenda for the severe weather seminar were:
Also, two seminars regarding satellite meteorology were presented. Robert Boyd, NWSO Midland forecaster, presented material from the COMAP Satellite Meteorology course. Both seminars were well attended, with participants from local television stations, and staff members from NWSFO Lubbock.
ON-LINE LOCAL STUDIES. Now that Southern Topics has become a monthly publication, opportunities for issuing technical attachments have decreased. We are encouraging all offices to utilize their Web sites as a medium to distribute the same local studies and information about their research activities. Some offices are already doing so, and good examples are the following studies posted by NWSO Morristown (www.srh.noaa.gov/mrx).
Dense Fog Study for Knoxville, Tennessee, by Wayne Shaffer.
Killer Flood Slashes through Carter County in Extreme East Tennessee, by Steve Hunter and Brian Boyd.
Studies posted locally are not only more timely, but they also may contain more color imagery than we can use with tech attachments.
NEW PDWS ORDERED. New Professional Development Workstations (PDWs) have been ordered for all WFOs and CWSUs. The specifications are:
Dell Dimension XPS 300 MHZ Pentium 2 with 128MB SDRAM
6.4GB EIDE Hard Drive
14/32X EIDE CD ROM
Diamond Permedia 2 3D Video Card w/8MB 17" Trinitron Monitor
Yamaha Wavetable Sound Card w/speakers
56K Internal Modem
The PDWs will be delivered to each office, and it is imperative that they be properly added to the office property list. The new PDW will allow the one now being used for teletraining to be devoted solely to that task. SSD point of contact is Ken Waters.
ETA MODEL CHANGES. NCEP plans to terminate the 29 km 0300 and 1500 UTC Meso-Eta and begin running the Eta-32 four times per day starting in May. The additional Eta-32 runs will be initialized at 0600 and 1800 UTC and will generate forecasts out to 30 hr. The new model output will be available on the OSO and regional servers, but AWIPS sites may have to wait for Build 4.1 before the grids will be placed on the Satellite Broadcast Network.
FRAME RELAY CRASH. At approximately 2100 UTC on April 13 AT&T experienced "serious interruptions" on its Frame Relay network which lasted about 12 hours in the Southern Region. The failure prohibited the transfer of data, imagery and e-mail among NWS field offices and their regional and national data servers. The problem was eventually traced to a software error in two switches which quickly propagated across about 145 nodes in the AT&T network. Press reports noted that AT&T operates the largest Frame Relay network in the country, serving about 40% of the approximately 6,000 companies which rely on the FRN. As recently as January AT&T had promised 99.99% reliability of its FRN.
This is a significant event to the NWS because with the termination of GOES-Taps in June, regional FRNs will be the only operational source of digital satellite imagery for NWS field offices not equipped with AWIPS. Another such interruption of the AT&T network during a severe weather outbreak or a landfalling hurricane could have a major impact on field operations.
UNIVERSITY AND RESEARCH INTERACTIONS
Jackson State University. To assist the only meteorology degree program at an historically Black university - Jackson State University (JSU) in Jackson, Mississippi - the nearby Jackson NWS office and NWS Southern Region Headquarters have loaned JSU a workstation and software that will provide near real-time data and analysis capabilities to faculty and students. This will also provide them with tools similar to those in use at the NWSFO, including NAWIPS, Netscape, gribmaster 2.0, and NSSL's WDSS (Warning Decision Support System) software. JSU has plans to obtain WATADS for post-analysis of WSR-88D data. They will be able to download grib data from the NWS OSO server, and the NWSO will provide surface and upper air gempak files by ftp during the school terms.
This is a major enhancement to the educational tools at JSU, with the potential for significantly enhancing the meteorological training their students receive. In turn it will increase opportunities for collaboration among JSU faculty and students, and NWSFO forecasters.
CIAMS-NWS Field Office Interactions. On April 9th, Bill Read and Steve Allen (MIC and SOO at NWSO Houston/Galveston) and Jim Ward, SOO at NWSFO Austin/San Antonio, traveled to Texas A&M University to attend the synoptic meteorology class of Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon. The class had been analyzing the weather which occurred on February 10 of this year, when widespread severe weather extended across much of south Texas. The NCEP models failed to forecast the widespread convection, and the NWS zone forecasts did not include the western portion of the convection. Dr. Nielsen-Gammon's students analyzed various aspects of the Eta model, compared the model output to analyses, and presented their explanations of the model errors. Bill, Steve, and Jim asked questions during the presentations and provided input along the way. After the students' presentations, the three NWS employees lead a class discussion of the event, including operational forecast problems during such a scenario. It was an instructive and enjoyable session for all involved.
NWS Support for TEFLUN Field Program. NWSFO Fort Worth and NWSOs Corpus Christi, Houston and Lake Charles are providing special rawindsonde soundings on request to Texas A&M University scientists during NASA's Texas Florida Underflights (TEFLUN) Experiment in support of its Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM). TEFLUN-A is the first in a series of experiments using a combination of airborne and surface-based measurements to complement the TRMM satellite data. An important part of the campaign is to provide comprehensive observations of the structure and evolution of Mesoscale Convective Systems, individual convective events, and their environment. Cloud and mesoscale models require these data sets for initialization and the subsequent model results must be validated for realism of vertical structure and latent heating.
Each day the Texas A&M scientists must first assess the potential for convection in the southeast Texas and southwest Louisiana study area. The special NWS soundings will aid the scientists in their assessment. The soundings can subsequently be used to initialize cloud and mesoscale models. If convection is expected then the NASA ER-2 (a modified U-2) aircraft is launched from its base in Florida to overfly the convection while a Lear Jet based near Houston provides in-situ measurements of cloud physics parameters. The aircraft data are supplemented by ground-based instruments deployed within the study area. Additional information can be found via the TEFLUN-A link on the Southern Region's Weather Information Web page.
Storm and Mesoscale Ensemble Experiment. SOOs from six Southern Region offices and the Arkansas-Red Basin RFC in Tulsa joined their colleagues from Kansas for a day-long training session concerning how their offices could assist in model output evaluation during the upcoming Storm and Mesoscale Ensemble Experiment (SAMEX). Participants in SAMEX include the Center for the Analysis and Predictions of Storms (CAPS), NCEP, NSSL, NCAR, and the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA). Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier, the Director of CAPS, noted that SAMEX will play a pivotal role in guiding the future of numerical weather prediction.
The goals of SAMEX are to:
Each SAMEX participant will contribute daily model output at a 30 km resolution for the regional ensembles. The AFWA, CAPS, NCEP and NCAR will provide intermediate resolution (~10 km) models. In addition, CAPS and the AFWA will also provide high resolution (2-3 km) model output. All products will be available on the World Wide Web for evaluation by the field forecasters and project scientists. SAMEX will run from late April through June and cover the central and southern Plains.
Additional information and links to SAMEX products can be found on our SAMEX Links page (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ftproot/ssd/html/samex.htm).
COMET AND TRAINING NEWS
Teletraining. We've been encouraging the faculty at our cooperative institutes to make use of the Audiographics teletraining equipment. Dr. Jim Elsner from our Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology at FSU prepared a teletraining package entitled: Improving Seasonal Hurricane Predictions for the North Atlantic which he presented twice in April to several Southern Region offices and Southern Region Headquarters staff in Fort Worth. The Office of Meteorology and the Cooperative Institute for Applied Meteorological Studies (CIAMS) at Texas A&M also "attended" the sessions. The teletraining featured a validation of Dr. Elsner's 1997 tropical storm outlook, his predictions for 1998 and beyond, and recent research results in stratifying hurricanes based on their origins and tracks.
The CIAMS faculty are in the process of preparing teletraining seminars on radar and lightning for delivery in the next few months. Bernard Meisner (SSD) will repeat his seminar series An Overview of NHC Guidance Models, starting in early June.
New MCS Training Module. Part 2, Physical Processes, of COMET's Web module, Mesoscale Convective Systems: Squall Lines and Bow Echoes is now available. Physical Processes explores the processes underlying the structures and evolutions examined in the Conceptual Models section (Part 1). It is accessed from the same interface, simply by selecting Physical Processes from the main menu. The updated Web module may be reached from the joint NWSTC/COMET MetEd Web site at http://meted.ucar.edu/convection/mcs.
The MCS Web module is part of a series which provides training on forecasting convection. It complements and expands on the COMET CD-ROMs A Convective Storm Matrix and Anticipating Convective Storm Structure and Evolution. Subject matter experts for the MCS Web module were Dr. Morris Weisman (NCAR) and Ron Przybylinski (SOO NWSFO St. Louis). The goal of the module is to help forecasters understand organized convective systems and anticipate their potential for severe weather. It is critical to understand the physical processes that control MCS evolution, and emphasis is placed on the role of buoyancy and vertical wind shear interactions.
This Web module will eventually be available on CD-ROM. By popular request, an option is provided for users to access and print a list of the summary bullets from each section via the "Learning Resources" link (on the home page of the module). The same link provides a complete bibliography. COMET welcomes user comments. Developers Wendy Abshire and Pat Parrish may be reached via the "Send Your Comments" link from the MCS home page or at firstname.lastname@example.org, or email@example.com.
Module Survey. The COMET Program has placed a "Module Survey" link on both the COMET home page (www.comet.ucar.edu) and the METED Web page (meted.ucar.edu). Forecasters are encouraged to take a moment to complete the survey. All data from this survey will be reported anonymously and privacy of the forecasters maintained. The survey is a follow-on to the 1995 evaluation of CBLs which addressed primarily the laserdisc materials of the early COMET modules. Since many new CD-ROM modules have been published and changes were made in how those modules were structured, it is important to get more feedback from the field to assess the design and content of the modules as well as their usability. Your help and cooperation will be appreciated.
COMET Teletraining Opportunity. As part of the Professional Development Series "proof of concept" test, each of the national training centers (NWSTC, OSF/OTB and COMET) was asked to produce and deliver both Web-based training and a teletraining session on the topic of mesoscale convective systems. NWSFO Little Rock and NWSO Lake Charles were the Southern Region participants in this test.
COMET's teletraining session, Anticipating Convective Storms: A Case Study Exercise, focuses on the Southern Region, and they have offered to repeat this three hour session for other interested offices. The teletraining will be offered twice: on May 27 and June 3 from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. CDT each day. A summary of the evaluations of the COMET teletraining session provided by the test offices can be found at: http://meted.ucar.edu/convection/t42/ttinput.html.
CC:MAIL RELEASE 8.11 CDS. CDs containing the latest cc:Mail software for upgrading all the regional cc:Mail post offices were reproduced and sent out April 16. Within days, several offices that had completed installing the Release 6 clients (Phase II) were already using the CDs to upgrade their post office databases to the new DB8 structure, thus completing the final Phase III requirements. In fact, many of those same offices have gone ahead and taken advantage of the new features in the Release 8 client software by upgrading their Release 6 clients to Release 8. At last count, ten offices are now upgraded to the DB8 format. We have waited a long time for the improvements provided in this latest release. As this addition to Topics is being prepared, all but two Southern Region offices have met the Phase II deadline of April 30.
Y2K Inventory Reports: With barely more than two weeks notice, most Southern Region offices met the April 10 deadline requested by NWSH for sending in Y2K Inventory reports based on the new WordPerfect table format. Thanks to the ESAs and those that assisted them in meeting this short turn around time.
CRS ARRIVES AT TULSA AND NORMAN, OK. Two more Console Replacement Systems(CRS) have been delivered in the Southern Region. NWSFO Tulsa took delivery of their system on April 17 and NWSFO Norman took delivery on April 21. Both systems were delivered on time, according to the most recent schedule. This makes the 8th and 9th systems to be delivered in the Southern Region. Installation is expected to take place as workload permits. NWSFO New Orleans will be the next site in Southern Region to get their CRS unit in late May.
OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH
We're saddened to announce that Mel Pettit, 75, Mechanical Engineer and long-time member of the Southern Region Headquarters engineering group, died Friday, March 20, 1998. Mel retired from the NWS in the mid-1980s.
SURFACE OBSERVATION PROGRAM
ANNUAL INSPECTION REPORTS. Each Southern Region office is required to submit a Station Inspection Report to the SRH/SOD (W/SR42x6) on or before June 30 of each year. This report is verification that all required Station Inspections have been completed. The form is part of ROML S13-96. To date two of the 30 expected reports have been received.
HOLM & JEFFERSON AWARD NOMINATIONS. The Holm & Jefferson award nominations were forwarded to NWSH. This year we nominated 7 observers for the Thomas Jefferson award and 10 volunteers for the John Campanious Holm award. This is down considerably from the previous year. For 1998, only 8 Southern Region offices submitted paperwork nominating observers from their CWA.
BAR CODING OF COOPERATIVE FORMS. The NCDC will soon require a barcode to be placed on all original forms submitted. This barcode will allow the NCDC to automate the reception of forms and more efficiently process the forms for archiving and publication. The barcode will be in addition to the current policy of stamping the station number on the forms.
PC-ROSA A SUCCESS? While many will dispute that statement, a recent survey of the system usage would indicate the transition to the new reporting system has been successful. During the month of December 1997, the system handled a total of 23,729 calls from the volunteer observers. That is an average of over 750 data reports each day, an indication that the system has been well received by a large number of observers.
NWSO SHREVEPORT. Meteorologists Bill Parker & Timothy Doyle participated as judges for the Northwest Louisiana Science Fair at the Bossier Civic Center located in Bossier City, LA. Certificates were sent out to all students who participated in the science fair.
Bill Parker gave a talk to Benton High School in Benton, LA, and to Evangel Elementary School in Shreveport, LA, on severe weather preparedness, careers in meteorology, and modernization. About half of the student body from both schools was minority.
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