UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
October 1, 1998
HURRICANE GEORGES HITS SOUTHERN REGION WITH FULL FORCE. Hurricane Georges left a path of destruction that stretched from the Carribean Islands to over five states on the mainland. Puerto Rico, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia were pelted by the winds, rain, and flooding of Georges.
With the onset of watches and warnings, the NWS Southern Region Headquarters opened its Hurricane Watch Office (HWO) in support of field offices affected by the powerful ocean engine. The Southern Region HWO provides 24 hour operational support for NWS field offices, state agencies, FEMA, the Red Cross, and many other state and federal agencies. The HWO was staffed by SRH employees around the clock for over 270 hours. Southern Region also provided support to the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness (LOEP). A Southern Region meteorologist spent over four days with the agency and provided briefings to the Governor, emergency managers, state police, local police, mayors, FEMA, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, and many other agencies that hinge upon accurate up-to-date hurricane information for decision making purposes.
Southern Region NWS offices affected by the hurricane provided hundreds of warnings and statements to ensure public safety. The NWS office in Puerto Rico shined and they took the brunt of the hurricane's force. Even though the staff was worried about their families and property, all
personnel were on duty as scheduled and continued to issue critical warnings and monitor the Doppler radar during this life threatening event. Hurricane force winds and torrential rain heavily damaged the island.
Residents of the Florida Keys were evacuated. The NWS office in Key West was hard hit as the eye wall of the storm passed over. Employees stayed on as long as possible before a storm surge of up to four feet surrounded their office and they had to take refuge in a hurricane resistant building.
When Georges took aim at the Gulf Coast it would be the third time the Southern Region would be impacted by the same storm. The west coast of Florida braced for high winds and surf as the Miami and Tampa Bay offices issued numerous public advisories. Offices in Lake Charles, New Orleans, Jackson, Mobile, Birmingham, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and Atlanta all geared up for possible landfall and heavy rains associated with Georges. The forecast track from the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) took Georges to New Orleans then halted it over Slidell a scenario which could have pushed a 15 foot storm surge into this below sea level area, with a potential of over 30 inches of rain to follow. Residents worked with state agencies and the New Orleans NWS office to evacuate this metro area of over a million people. A normal one-hour drive from New Orleans to Baton Rouge was increased to nine hours with this monumental evacuation. Georges decided the Mississippi Gulf Coast was a good target as the new track pointed to Biloxi. Georges became stationary over Biloxi and hurricane force winds, torrential rain, tornadoes, and storm surge lasted for an extended period. Eventually, Georges crept towards the east bringing highs winds and torrential rain to the Southeast states.
Southern Region NWS offices issued hundreds of warnings and statements to protect lives and property from hurricane force winds, flooding, and tornadoes. The River Forecast Centers (RFC) in Slidell and Atlanta issued river forecasts that took several rivers over 10 feet above flood stage as nearly three feet of rain fell at many locations. The heaviest rain fell on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, South Alabama, South Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle. Damage due to winds, storm surge, and flooding was extensive.
The actions of the staff at all the Southern Region NWS offices involved was admirable. To continue to protect lives and property as the their own families and property were threatened shows courage and dedication. With this dedication in mind, only two deaths were a direct result of this powerful hurricane in Southern Region areas of responsibility, as mud slides took those lives in Puerto Rico. Georges goes down in the history books with memories of extensive damage, but minimum loss of life due to the effective action of NWS Southern Region personnel, state officials, and local officials. Hats off to everyone for a job well done.
FRAME RELAY NETWORK PROVIDES CRITICAL SUPPORT. As Hurricane Georges pounded Puerto Rico, electricity, telephone and Internet service were all lost for a time by NWSFO San Juan. However, their link to the SRH Frame Relay network remained intact and the office received satellite imagery throughout the storm. Similarly, NWSO Key West continued to receive satellite imagery, observations and model output during Hurricane Georges until all electric power was lost at the office due to a damaged transformer.
LA NIÑA BRIEFINGS. Last week the Southern Region hosted Gerry Bell, leading research meteorologist, of the NCEP Climate Prediction Center for three briefings on La Niña. Gary Woodall, SR/MSD coordinated these highly successful briefings in Atlanta and Fort Worth. A third briefing for the media was held at the Radio and Television News Director's Association Conference in San Antonio. Following the events, SRH Public Affairs Officer Curtis Carey distributed a press release to all major media in the Southern Region area of responsibility. Copies were also provided to all offices for their use. Gerry Bell and other climatologists at NCEP/CPC are available for interviews with major media. Also refer to the excellent La Niña links provided through the Southern Region home page (click on "Weather Information").
NWSEO PARTNERSHIP AWARD. Along with Susan Beckwith, Local 2-67 Steward, I was extremely pleased to be recognized with the 1998 NWSEO Most Valuable Partnership Award. NWSEO President Ramon Sierra and NWS Director Jack Kelly presented the award at the NWSEO National Convention last week. The award recognizes a unique partnership consisting of trust, sharing, and mutual respect. That in turn has made it possible for those of us in regional management to be responsive to the needs of employees without adversely impacting their ability to meet our mission requirements. This is truly an honor which I accept on behalf of the Southern Region.
AWIPS CUSTOMIZATION CLASS TAUGHT. The third Southern Region AWIPS customization class was taught at SRH last week. Attendees were Jim Ward (Austin/San Antonio), Greg Flatt (Brownsville) and Brian LaMarre (Corpus Christi). Most of the course content is now online (see next item).
SOUTHERN REGION AWIPS SUPPORT WEB SITE OPENED. The Southern Region AWIPS support Web site contains most of the course material used during the customization workshop we've held at SRH, plus an up-to-date link page and some searchable bulletin boards. The bulletin boards are for field staff to ask questions and exchange information about AWIPS and AWIPS related topics such as LDADS. You must register with the site before posting to the bulletin board, mainly so the system can email back to you any responses to your post. The address for the site is: http://srhawips.srh.noaa.gov. If you have any problems contacting this Web site please let Matt Strahan at SRH know. You can call him at 817-987-2367 x 132 or via cc:Mail.
SMG SUPPORTS JSC OPEN HOUSE. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group in Houston hosted thousands of visitors on August 29, as part of the Johnson Space Center Open House and Ballunar Liftoff Festival. An estimated 100,000 people visited JSC during this event, with an estimated 8,000 visitors touring SMG. Long lines threaded through the highly popular "Weather Office" throughout the day. Visitors received brief demonstrations of MIDDS workstations and WSR-88D capabilities, and were given NWS safety and promotional material. SMG employees participating were Steve Sokol, Doris Rotzoll, Frank Brody and Mark Keehn. Monica Sowell and Dana Jackson helped with the Open House setup the week before the event. Also volunteering enthusiastic support were Kumiko Sokol, Janice Brody, Karen Shelton-Mur, Andreas Mur-Dingil, Bryan Batson and Todd Kostelecky.
SMG CONDUCTS WEATHER COURSE -- ATTENDANCE HIGHEST EVER. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group conducted a nine hour training course for NASA Space Shuttle support personnel in September at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The 61 attendees consisted mostly of flight directors, flight controllers, astronauts, and simulation training specialists. This was by far the largest class ever held and may reflect a renewed interest in weather resulting from recent meteorological events. Normally 25 to 35 people attended the SMG weather course.
Subject material included SMG operations and various topics in general meteorology, as well as MIDDS and WSR-88D demonstrations. Wayne Baggett, SMG training coordinator, directed the course, but all SMG staff participated as instructors. Administrative assistant Monica Sowell handled all correspondence and administrative matters and student aide Dana Jackson helped assemble course notebooks. The course is usually conducted on a yearly basis, and was last held in June 1997. Course materials and presentations are updated prior to each class to reflect changing mission requirements and flight rules and to incorporate suggestions from the student evaluations.
NOAA WEATHER RADIO
Customer Service in Tampa. An NWR listener who recently purchased a SAME receiver was having difficulty programming her equipment. After calls to the vendor failed to produce the desired results, the individual phoned the NWSO in Ruskin. To quote Miss Thelma Brandt,
What a difference! Everyone I spoke to was cheerful, friendly, and most of all, helpful. Mr. Walt Zaleski took time with me to make sure my radio was programmed correctly. His help assured me I would be ready if and when a storm ever occurred. It is so rare to find such friendly help and support in this day and age, hence this letter whose sole purpose is to let you know the [NWSO Tampa Bay Area] staff is to be commended. It was such a pleasure dealing with them.
Of course, it is no surprise to us that someone found exceptional customer service from a Southern Region field office, but it is nice when someone takes the time to send us a letter. Congratulations to all involved at the NWSO!
CRS Training. A CRS Operator's Training Course took place at the NWSO in Nashville during the week of September 28. The three-day course was attended by staff from NWSOs Morristown, Mobile and Nashville and NWSFO Memphis. Also in attendance from the Eastern Region was Vince DiCarlo (WCM Greenville/Spartanburg). The course was taught by Kevin Brown of NWSFO Norman, and Dave Wilfing of NWSFO Birmingham.
The next CRS Operator's Training Course will be held for all the Florida WFOs at the NWSO Melbourne, December 2-4.
NWR Listener Survey. Recently, NWSO Lake Charles conducted a NOAA Weather Radio survey of its listeners. It is appended to this edition of Topics as an attachment.
FLOOD EVENTS DURING THE PAST FEW MONTHS. We want to commend all the HSA offices and RFCs (affected by landfalling tropical systems in their service areas since late August) for the excellent hydrologic products and services provided to our customers. This has been a very busy time for many of you and we are highly appreciative of all your efforts, including coordination and communication with your user community, especially emergency management officials and cooperating agencies. Thanks for a job well done!
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Flint River Task Force Meeting. Gary Butler, service hydrologist from NWSFO Atlanta, reports that the first meeting of the Flint River Task Force was held during the last week in August. The task force is sponsored by the Georgia Emergency Management Agency. Representatives from the NWS included MIC Carlos Garza and Gary Butler, and Reggina Garza from the Southeast RFC. The task force, which includes representatives from other state and federal agencies, will provide information to the Governor of Georgia concerning the flooding on the Flint River that occurred in 1994 associated with Tropical Storm Alberto, and the spring floods of this year. The task force will also develop long-term strategies and recommendations for mitigating the impacts of future floods in the Flint River Basin. A draft report will be provided to the Governor of Georgia in December.
NWS/City of Tulsa Coordination. Al Hong, service hydrologist at NWSO Tulsa and Larry Lowe, HAS forecaster at the Arkansas-Red Basin RFC, exchanged visits with Mike Bailey, the new ALERT specialist with the City of Tulsa Telecommunications Department. Mr. Bailey gave Al and Larry a tour of the city of Tulsa's Telecommunications Department. He also provided them with details of their efforts to improve the reliability of the City of Tulsa'a ALERT precipitation gauges. Al and Larry provided Mr. Bailey with a tour of the collocated WFO/RFC facility and an overview of how they use the ALERT precipitation data to support operations at the WFO and RFC. Congratulations on your external communication and coordination activities!
NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
SOUTHEAST RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Weather Channel Interviews. John Feldt, hydrologist-in-charge of the SERFC, provided occasional live interviews on The Weather Channel (TWC) describing the excessive rainfall over South Alabama and the Florida Panhandle associated with Georges. The interviews also described the hydrological conditions and anticipated impact of record flooding at several locations in the affected area.
On a related note, SERFC plans to conduct training sessions for both TWC and CNN on hydrologic forecasting and RFC operations in the next few months. Congratulations on your public outreach activities!
SERFC/GTRI Collaboration. Wyllie Quillian, senior hydrologic forecaster, is working with Georgia Tech Research Institute's Center for Spatial Analysis Technologies (CSAT) on a proposed project initiative titled Geographic Information System Flood Extent-Model with Visualization to Assist the Nation with Flood Disasters. CSAT is staffed by GTRI and USGS personnel. The intent of this project initiative is to present a 3-dimensional visualization of the floodplain impact from a forecast river flood event. This visualization would include forecast hydrograph information along with GIS data to create an animation sequence of the resulting flood wave as it rises, spreads across the floodplain, and recedes. It is expected that this type of product will better support the user community requirements (e.g., emergency managers, general public, etc) for flood hazard impact information. CSAT personnel and the SERFC hope that this proposal will attract funding support from state and federal agencies.
ARKANSAS RED BASIN RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Viewing Feature for Web-Based Precipitation Data. The ABRFC recently added a new feature for viewing precipitation data at their web site. This feature can be evaluated by going to the ABRFC home page (http://www.abrfc.noaa.gov) and clicking on precipitation data, then images, then either one-hour, six-hour, or daily. There are a couple of links to "zoom in" on a precipitation field. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please forward them to James Paul, senior hydrologic forecaster at the ABRFC. Nice work!
LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER FORECAST CENTER
NWS/COE Meeting. On August 19, representatives from the Corps of Engineer's Vicksburg district office (MVK) met with Dave Reed and Bob Stucky from the Lower Mississippi RFC and Dean Braatz of the North Central RFC to discuss specific hydrologic forecast requirements and data transfer issues between the LMRFC and MVK. The MVK requested daily river forecasts for three locations on the Yazoo River that have real-time river stage data from GOES DCPs. These sites include Whaley, Locopolis, and Lambert. LMRFC agreed to work with NWSFO Jackson to establish these locations as official river forecast points. Data exchange action items included LMRFC developing an anonymous FTP site for MVK to retrieve WSR-88D Stage III gridded precipitation fields to support reservoir operations and the establishment of an FTP process between LMRFC and MVK to transfer operational data and products in real-time.
On a related note, a joint meeting of NWS RFCs that provide river forecasts for the Mississippi River Basin and the COE Mississippi Valley Division district offices is set for November 5, 1998. This joint NWS/COE meeting will focus on forecast and coordination activities between the two agencies. LMRFC will host the meeting. Thanks to Dave Reed (HIC) and his staff for all of their interagency coordination efforts during the past fiscal year!
NOGAPS MODEL OUTPUT ON SRH SERVER. Thanks to the efforts of Peggy Bruehl, National SOO Coordinator, output from the Navy's global spectral model, NOGAPS, is now available twice daily as a geographically-sectored GEMPAK file on the SRH model output server. The file is typically available about six and a half hours after the model analysis time (i.e., 0630 UTC for the 0000 UTC run, and 1830 UTC for the 1200 UTC run). A script for downloading the file was sent to all offices and may be found in the SCRIPTS subdirectory on the SRH model output server. Information about NOGAPS can be found on the SSD Numerical Weather Prediction page:
Details about the parameters and verification times available in the NOGAPS GEMPAK file can be found on the SOO-SAC Web page:
SSD TO THE TELETRAINING RESCUE. When NWSFO Albuquerque's Optel modem failed during the HTM teletraining course, SSD was able to provide a replacement by overnight delivery for the next day's teletraining session. SSD also has LCD projector bulb assemblies available for similar delivery on a reimbursable basis.
PDW #3: MOVING PROGRESS RECORDS. A number of SOOs have expressed concern about moving progress records from the "old" (ADS) PDW to the new machine. COMET has posted a solution on their ftp server. Follow the link from the SSD Training and Professional Development Web page (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ftproot/ssd/html/training.htm) to download the student_records.exe program.
NATIONAL WEATHER ASSOCIATION ANNUAL MEETING. The NWA Annual Meeting this year will be at Oklahoma City, October 17-23. Funding permitting, there will again be a significant number of presentations from Southern Region offices. Attached is a summary of oral and poster presentations scheduled for the meeting, along with names of SR individuals who are involved in administrative functions of the organization.
The level of support which our employees continue to provide to the NWA is another outstanding way we can further NWS goals of enhancing both science and service. In addition, several Southern Region employees will again be honored by receiving NWA awards this year. We will announce the names next month, after they are recognized at the annual meeting.
NWSTC News. A web-based module on quality control is under development at the NWSTC. This module will address quality control concepts, the difference between quality control and quality assurance, and it will provide examples of how quality control is being applied by NWS. It provides important training for HMTs, interns and others who are involved in the data collection and utilization area.
NWS Training Calendar. A consolidated training calendar is now available that contains the courses offered by the NWS Training Center, the OSF Operations Training Branch, and COMET. Now with one stop on the Web you can see when specific training will be offered and view descriptions of the courses. You can access the calendar from the "Teletraining & Course Schedules" link on the MetEd home page at http://www.meted.ucar.edu.
WSR-88D Build 10 Software Training. The OSF Operations Training Branch is providing training for an early November release of WSR-88D Build 10 software. All offices have been provided several copies of a booklet titled "WSR-88D Build 10 Training." An on-line version of the booklet and other Build 10 material can be found at http://www.osf.noaa.gov/otb/build10. The goals of the training are to:
The OTB will also deliver a two-hour teletraining session for SOOs and/or radar focal points at each NWS office during October (of course, others at the office may sit in). If needed, additional teletraining sessions may be added in November.
The Build 10 teletraining files (both Audiographics and Corel formats) are located on the SRH teletraining server in the /TELETRAINING/OSF/BUILD10 subdirectory. Please refer to the installation instructions on the OSF Web page and remember to test the presentation prior to your scheduled teletraining session. Questions or comments should be directed to John Ferree (x4266) or Liz Quoetone (x4278) at the OTB (405/366-6560).
Classes at COMET Next Year. Following is a list of courses and workshops that are planned for the COMET classroom facility during FY1999. Note the OSF/Operations Training Branch workshops will continue to be taught in Boulder instead of Norman.
Course/Workshop Classes Duration
OSF/OTB Workshops 6 3 1/2 days
Satellite Meteorology 2 2 weeks
COMAP SOO Symposium (NWP) 2 1 week
COMAP 1999 (for new SOOs) 1 7 weeks
Hydrometeorology 2 3 weeks
University Faculty Course 1 2 weeks
The subjects of the OTB workshops are yet to be finalized. The two COMAP Symposia for SOOs will deal with NWP. The satellite meteorology course will continue in order to provide training for as many meteorologists as possible, including at least one individual from each office. Selections will be made for attendees as soon as the schedule is finalized and the number of seats available to the region is known.
SKIDAWAY COLLABORATION. Last year, the University of Georgia's Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, in conjunction with the Navy and the NWS, submitted a proposal to instrument a cluster of Navy towers off the Georgia coast with oceanographic and meteorological sensors. These towers are used for tracking Air Combat Maneuvering (ACM - better known as "dogfighting") in the military warning areas off the coast. The towers have high data connectivity and bandwidth, but they are not used in bad weather. Instrumenting the towers will fill a data void offshore, and provide valuable additional data when tropical storms affect the southeast coast.
The proposal was funded, and now Mike McAllister (DAPM) and Dr. Pat Welsh (SOO) at NWSO Jacksonville will work with Skidaway Institute to develop ways to get the data into the NWS system.
CAPT. ROBERT MILLER. We were saddened to learn of the death in mid-September of Robert Miller, half of the familiar Fawbush and Miller severe storms "team." Last spring the meteorological community commemorated the 50th anniversary of their historic first operational tornado forecast, issued at Tinker AFB in Oklahoma. In passing on the information about Capt. Miller's death, we understand the family indicated that the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Tornado Forecasting, and the dedication of a memorial to Lt. Colonel Fawbush and Captain Miller, was the best public memorial service he could possibly have had.
SOO WORKSHOPS. The third Southern Region SOO workshop of FY1998 was held the first week of September at Canton, Mississippi, just outside of Jackson. The subject was Winter Weather Forecasting in the South. Thanks to Rusty Pfost, former Jackson SOO, and others at the local NWSFO who worked hard on planning for the workshop, including arrangements for the isolated setting. Participants included SOOs from Amarillo, Memphis, Nashville, Atlanta, Birmingham, Shreveport, Little Rock and Jackson. Prof. James Moore from St. Louis University, Jon Racy (NCEP/SPC), and Paul Kocin (NCEP/HPC) provided their expertise and excellent topical seminars.
The fourth and final SOO workshop was held at SRH the last week of September, on the subject of Mesoscale Modeling. Mark Jackson, NWSO Brownsville SOO, worked with Bernard Meisner (SSD) in planning this workshop. The goal was to increase understanding of mesoscale models and their applications at WFOs, several of which Southern Region offices are actively working with such models. Participants included SOOs from Fort Worth, Tampa Bay, Norman, Brownsville and Lubbock, and focal points from Corpus Christi and Birmingham. In addition, special presentations were made by Kelvin Droegemeier (Univ. of Oklahoma/CAPS), John Snook (NOAA/FSL), Dave Pagel (American Airlines), John Nielsen-Gammon (Texas A&M/CIAMS), Jerry Schmidt (Naval Research Lab, Monterey), Robert Reeves (NWSH/OM) and Bernard Meisner.
DACFO. Following is a list of Southern Region local focal points for the Director's Advisory Committee on Forecast Operations (DACFO).
San Juan Scott Stripling Miami Bernie Eposito Melbourne Randy Lascody Tampa Bay Dan Sobien Jacksonville Al Sandrik Tallahassee Irv Watson Atlanta Shirley Lamback Mobile Don Shepard Birmingham Mark Linhares Knoxville TBD Nashville Henry Steigerwaldt Memphis Joe Lowrey Jackson Brad Regan Little Rock John Lewis Lake Charles Anthony Perkins New Orleans Suzanne Van Cooten Shreveport Matt Foster Norman Ken Gallant Tulsa Greg Patrick (Reg.Rep.) Fort Worth Jesse Moore Austin/ San Antonio Jim Ellis Houston Leslie Petersen (CWSU) Corpus Christi Michael Buchanan Brownsville Jeff Philo Midland/Odessa Greg Murdoch San Angelo Patrick McCullough El Paso John Chambers Lubbock Tim Tinsley Amarillo Edward Andrade Albuquerque Neil Haley Houston Steve Sokol Key West Joe Barrett
There is a focal point for each WFO area and the Spaceflight Meteorology Group, all of whom are - by DACFO charter - in non-management positions. WFO focal points coordinate with the area CWSU. RFC staff are represented by a national RFC DACFO representative. There are also national HMT and intern representatives. Greg Patrick (WFO Tulsa) is our regional representative on the national DACFO team. He will be contacting the local representatives during the coming months to prepare input for the annual DACFO meeting at NWS Headquarters.
WEB KUDOS. The staff at NWSO Lake Charles continues to actively develop their Web site to better serve their customers. Particular attention has been paid to the local hurricane climatology, the tropics, and satellite links. Their success is reflected in the following user comments, recently forwarded to us by SOO Felix Navejar:
I do love this page. It is very clear and includes more info than most, it seems. And the net is the main weather resource that I have, so a good page is needed. South Louisiana deserves it and we need it. You did outdo yourselves.
Wow! This is a wonderful website! Thanks for giving us such great information.
Fantastic Web site. For three days I have been searching for a list of hurricanes that hit Louisiana but to no avail. Then I stumbled on your fantastic sight [sic]. I am in awe when I think of how much work and research you must have put into this ... I wish to congratulate you.
WEATHER BUREAU TOPICS. The following was newsworthy in May, 1938:
Bureau Employee Awarded Gregg Medal. Miss Mary Stanski, assistant clerk-stenographer, CAF-3, in the Personnel Section of the Administrative Division of the Central Office, who has attended the last two semesters of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Graduate School, was awarded the medal given by the Gregg Publishing Company in the 140-word-per-minute stenographic examination held on May 10, 1938. Miss Stanski's rating was 98.4 percent.
Inspired by Miss Stanski's achievement, we have recently provided all Southern Region Administrative Assistants with the latest edition (1998) of The Gregg Reference Manual. We encourage everyone who prepares written material as part of their job - and that's all of us - to become familiar with this handy reference book.
ESA CONFERENCE. The Southern Region ESA Conference was held in Fort Worth during the week of September 21. With the exception of a few people being recalled to their offices due to hurricane Georges, the conference was an overall success. We are grateful for all of those who participated in the conference, especially Walter Telesetsky, Director of the WSH Office of Systems Operation, and John McNulty, Chief of the OSO Engineering Division. They both spent the whole week with us and were very glad to answer questions off line and after hours. We also had guests from Western, Eastern and Central Region Headquarters, OSF, NWSTC, OSO and OMD.
Topics covered during the week ranged from CRS to the WAN/LAN security. Action items were assigned during the conference and we will be following up on them during the next several weeks.
CPU UPGRADES. We have ordered CPU upgrade kits to improve performance of one hundred of our field office computers. The upgrades will double the original CPU speed of most of the Dell Optiplex systems we have. This will result in noticeable performance gains for most of the applications used in the Southern Region.
NEWBUD. As of October 1, the NewBud budget tracking system will officially eliminate the need for most previously utilized budget tracking systems within Southern Region. While the system is primarily used for monitoring Awards/Supplies/Travel/Training budgets, several offices have adopted the new program for tracking such budget categories as Facilities and Utilities.
WINDOWS NT. Southern Region Headquarters is currently obtaining pricing information for a volume purchase of NT Workstation (NTWS) licenses which will replace many of the existing Windows 95 licenses within the region. While the transition from Win 95 will likely be gradual, many of the offices would like to eventually move to the more mature NTWS for its enhanced security features and overall stability.
MORE CRS ARRIVALS AT SR SITES. NWR Console Replacement Systems were recently delivered to more Southern Region sites, including San Angelo and Houston, Texas; Miami and Melbourne, Florida; and Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee. These systems were delivered on time according to the current deployment schedule.
The installation of the CRS at sites across Southern Region has gone well. We have not experienced as many problems as anticipated, and have learned much about the system along the way. Two major problems were recently diagnosed and found to be bad Ethernet circuit cards in both cases. The system's diagnostic software was a valuable resource in the troubleshooting of the malfunctions. Sites are reminded to back-up their CRS systems periodically to insure critical files and programs are accessible in case of catastrophic failure. Also, regular back-ups are recommended each time new data are added to files or databases.
The remaining sites awaiting CRS delivery are Mobile, Tampa Bay (Ruskin), Jacksonville, and Tallahassee, in October. San Juan will take delivery next month and Key West will accept its CRS system in April 1999.
For more information, point your web browser to the Southern Region home page at http://www.srh.noaa.gov, under the MSD banner, or log onto the CRS Info Page at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oso/oso1/oso12/crs.htm.
ASOS END-OF-YEAR SPENDING. Due to the reduced overtime and travel costs that resulted from our ASOS maintenance integration efforts, a substantial amount of end-of-year funds were available for the purchase of additional ASOS support equipment. A second mini spares kit was sent to NWSFO Albuquerque to help support their maintenance efforts in the Region's largest county warning area. Two sets of ASOS unique test equipment were sent to WSFO San Juan for pre-positioning at the ASOS sites in St. Thomas and St. Croix in the Virgin Islands. In addition, an AEMC Model 3630 Ground Resistance Tester, a Darkstar Model D412 Fiber Optic Tester, and a Panasonic Model CF35 Laptop Computer are being sent to each office.
WSR-88D BUILD 10 NEWS. The NEXRAD Build 10.0 software is almost ready for system-wide release, but first the OSF must put the software through its final testing phase - the Beta Test. The test began in late September and will extend through at least October 23. No Southern Region RDA/RPG sites are slated to participate in the Beta testing, however, NWSFO Norman will have Build 10.0 loaded onto its APUP as an associated user to Vance AFB, which will have the Build 10.0 loaded onto its RDA/RPG. The RFCs at Tulsa and Atlanta will also have the Build 10.0 software loaded onto their PUPs since they will have operational access as NAPUPs to the RDA/RPG of sites at which Build 10.0 is loaded. See SSD's section of this Topics for Build 10.0 related training information.
FAA ASOS COMMISSIONINGS REACH 350. The director of the Federal Aviation Administration, Jane Garvey, issued a press release recently commending and thanking all those involved in ASOS, recognizing a milestone upon commissioning of their 350th ASOS in the United States - nearly three months ahead of schedule. Needless to say, all of our field offices were involved in this effort and are to be commended for the dedication and hard work that made this possible.
USA CODE CHANGE FOR ICE PELLETS. Effective 0000 UTC, November 5, 1998, the METAR/SPECI code formats used in the United States for reporting ice pellets will change from "PE" to "PL." New US observing policy/procedures will require that only "PL" be used to encode ice pellets starting on that date. This change applies to all manual observing stations and automated observing stations where human augmentation is provided for reporting ice pellets. It does not apply to unstaffed automated observing stations which do not/cannot report ice pellets.
In addition, all USA Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFS) which are valid on or after 0000 UTC, November 5, 1998, will use "PL" when referring to ice pellets. "PL" will also be used to indicate ice pellets in USA SIGMETS, Convective SIGMETS, domestic and international area forecasts, and CWSU products.
ENVIRONMENTAL AND SAFETY PROGRAM - NWS SOUTHERN REGION. The NWS Environmental and Safety Program continues to gain momentum with all regions recently participating in a semi-annual meeting to review FY-98 progress and make plans for FY-99. This past year saw the designation and training of NWS personnel as focal points for environmental and safety activities for their respective WFOs and related field sites. Work began on WFO employee chemical and safety awareness training required by OSHA, and also the disposal of excess chemicals deemed not necessary for daily operations. Material Safety Data Sheets have been collected for most sites and personal protective equipment has also been ordered.
Mercury barometers have been removed from most NWS facilities but still remain at some FAA sites. A program to collect and dispose of broken thermometers has begun and WFO personnel have been asked to remove the "Sixes" thermometers to outside storage due to their potential to be an irritant if broken indoors. Methods of collecting rain gage fluids have been implemented and hazardous waste segregation by separate containers is also underway. New focal points have been designated for personnel who have retired or transferred, and plans are in progress for initial and recurrent training for both new and previously-designated focal points and as well as a one-day course for MICs.
The next emphasis throughout NOAA and the Weather Service will be on safety first by educating the focal points on regulatory requirements and good operating practices to prevent injuries and lost time accidents. Implementation of a lockout-tagout program will begin with kits being shipped direct to each WFO that will allow personnel working with electrical power to more reliably isolate their systems from inadvertent activation by other employees. Also, a new fall protection program will be initiated that will comply with OSHA's requirement of annual inspection and certification of safety harnesses used by personnel who are required to climb towers and other structures.
We are also in progress with the replacement of warped raised computer floor panels and require input from the field on sites where these conditions exist. NOAA has begun a safety survey program to assess the condition of its facilities and these will continue in the Southern Region, first as a facility review and later in the form of an audit. One area of concern is hydrogen safety at Upper Air sites that have not converted to helium. The environmental and safety workload for focal points continues to rise and there is the possibility of supplementing NWS employees with contract labor for certain categories of work, such as the creation of spill prevention plans for RDAs and leased WFOs, as well as sewage permit applications and maintenance plans at locations where they are required by local codes.
For questions or more information you may contact Terry Brisbin, P.E. at (817) 978-2644 x139.
Holm and Jefferson Award. Holm and Jefferson Awards have been distributed to the responsible offices for presentation to the selected observers. Plans for these award ceremonies are proceeding. The Thomas Jefferson Award was presented on October 6 by Bill Proenza and the NWS office in Amarillo to Tommie Saye for his outstanding support during flooding events in 1997.
Monthly Reports. Monthly reports have continued to arrive at SRH. These reports are being done manually for the time being but a team has been formed to attempt to modernize this process. The monthly forms have been developed and are available for use at http://nwselp.epcc.edu/coop. Passwords are required to use this system. If your office would like to begin using the electronic version of this report, please contact the RCPM for passwords.
1999 Length of Service Awards. Length of Service Awards for 1999 for volunteer observers will soon be needed at each office. Please inform the RCPM of your certificate and lapel pin needs, and we will forward these to you. If you would like a letter from the Southern Region Headquarters to be presented to the observer, please coordinate your request at least two months before you plan to make the award presentation.
SURFACE OBSERVATION PROGRAM
Digiquartz Calibration. Digiquartz calibrations are required each year. Most of the units in the field will need this calibration in the next few months. Please check the calibration tag on your unit(s) and begin planning to ship the unit to NWS Headquarters. If you do not have a property tag on the unit, you will need to get that done before shipping the unit. Any questions on this process should be directed to the SRH/SOPM.
NOAA HUMAN RESOURCES HOME PAGE. The five NOAA human resources offices have been significantly downsized. As a result, to continue to maintain high quality personnel services, a new NOAA Human Resources home page has been developed. It is located at http://www.rdc.noaa.gov/~hrmo. All employees are encouraged to visit the Web site and "surf" through the wealth of information provided there. Some highlights include:
Vacancy listings providing full text announcements
Vacancy status listings for all NOAA vacancies
Recent news clippings related to federal employment issues
The opportunity to create your own "page" from NFC providing you personal information about payroll and leave data
Leave transfer recipient information
The amount of information is very extensive. This home page also provides links to the various Administrative Support Centers (ASCs), so employees can find additional information pertaining to specific services that MASC (in our case) provides. The goal is to provide most of the personnel information you will need about benefits, job opportunities, pay, leave, awards, training and other workplace issues. Suggestions on how the Web site might be improved are welcome. Please e-mail the Webmaster using the link provided.
DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
NWSO SHREVEPORT. Meteorologist Bill Parker gave a "Weather Preparedness Talk" at Arthur Circle Elementary School. Eighty third graders participated, of which 30 percent were African-American.
Mary Keiser, Co-op, and Craig Ross, Service Hydrologist, gave a talk to local TV weathercasters on NWS operations and modernization, including the programs in upper air, radar, AFOS, ASOS, and CRS.
NWSFO FORT WORTH. On September 14, Jesse Moore, lead forecaster, and Krista Villarreal, Co-op, helped Diana Newton-Grayson conduct the first DataSteme meeting at the NWSFO. Jesse and Krista are part of the Fall '98 AMS DataStreme Project to help local teachers learn about atmospheric science. This information will then be taught to their students. There were nine teachers in attendance who took a tour of the office, watched a balloon launch, and became acquainted with the procedures for the course.
SOUTHERN REGION WORKFORCE TRANSACTIONS
SEPTEMBER 1-30, 1998
Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
Patrick Johnson NWSFO LIX Reas to WR Forecaster, GS-13
Rocco Pelatti NWSO TBW Prom to WR Met Intern, GS-11
Jeffrey Wallenfang NWSO TAE Reas to CR Forecaster, GS-12
Carl Morgan NWSFO MEG Prom to ER Forecaster, GS-12
Jeffrey Orrock NWSFO EWX Prom to ER Met Intern, GS-11
Steven Pfaff NWSO CRP Prom to ER Forecaster, GS-12
Andrew Haner NWSFO TSA Prom to CR Met Intern, GS-11
Charles Chace NWSO OHX Retirement El Tech, GS-11
Scott Schumann NWSFO BMX Prom to ER Forecaster, GS-12
Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Link Crawford NWSFO LZK Prom from WR Forecaster, GS-12
James DeBerry NWSO MAF Prom from WR Forecaster, GS-12
John Broyles NWSO AMA Prom from CR Forecaster, GS-12
Stephen Parker NWSO MRX Prom from CR SOO, GS-14
Robert Zopp NWSO AMA Reas from ER El Tech, GS-11
Randy Henley NWSO SHV New Hire El Tech, GS-11
Matthew Duplantis NWSFO JAN New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Mark Linhares NWSFO BMX Prom from BMX Forecaster, GS-12
Paul Close NWSO TBW Prom from MEG Forecaster, GS-12
Timothy Doyle NWSO SHV Prom from SHV Forecaster, GS-12
William Parker NWSO SHV Prom from SHV Forecaster, GS-12
David Matson NWSO MRX Prom from LZK Forecaster, GS-12
John Elmore NWSO SHV Prom from SHV Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Matthew Foster NWSO SHV Prom from SHV Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Mark Murphy NWSO SHV Prom from SHV Lead Forecaster, GS-13
James Maxwell NWSFO FWD Prom from HGX DAPM, GS-12
Terry Huber NWSO CRP Reas from MAF WCM, GS-13
Scott Curl NWSFO OUN Prom from OUN Forecaster, GS-12
Brian Seeley NWSFO SJU Prom from SJU Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Mark Rose NWSO OHX Prom from OHX Forecaster, GS-12
Jason Wright NWSO OHX Prom from OHX Forecaster, GS-12
Chris Jacobson NWSO CRP Prom from CRP Forecaster, GS-12
John Lewis NWSFO LZK Prom from LZK Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Martin Mullen NWSFO LUB Prom from LUB Lead Forecaster, GS-13
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