SRH Regional Operations Center

The Regional Operations Center at Southern Region Headquarters continues to be an important part of our outreach and coordination activities. Numerous individuals from across the region have volunteered to spend a month at SRH staffing the ROC position, and all have contributed significantly to the success of operations. Exit interviews have indicated they also benefit from the experience in many ways. We thank all of those who have contributed their time and skills, and we congratulate the following individuals who have been selected to serve as ROC duty officer for the coming months:

Mark Fox - WFO Fort Worth/Dallas
Shawn Bennett - WFO Brownsville
John Pendergrast - WFO Melbourne
Mark Lenz - WFO Corpus Christi
Mark Rose - WFO Birmingham
Perry Martin - WFO Midland
Frank Alsheimer - WFO Tampa Bay Area

A good way to describe what is involved in ROC operations is to summarize a typical month, and who better to do that than the most recent ROC officer? The following summary was provided by Greg Story, HAS forecaster from the West Gulf River Forecast Center in Fort Worth.

I served as the ROC duty officer from early September through early October. It was truly an incredible experience, one which I feel was very rewarding. At first, I felt very intimidated going to the SRH (even though I work in the same town and for the same organization as these folks). I was quite nervous the first day, but I was pleased that from the first moment everyone made me feel at home and part of the team. The second day was one I will never forget... September 11...the terrorist attack on our great country. As all of you were, we were in shock at Southern Region Headquarters. Here I was supposed to be learning a new job, and I could do nothing but listen to the news accounts of the tragic events of that day. On top of that, we had a new tropical depression brewing over the Gulf of Mexico, which eventually became Gabrielle.

So I eventually learned the responsibilities of the ROC, and dealt with the hustle and bustle which is involved with being a part of the Hurricane Watch Office. It was during Gabrielle that I saw all the SRH machinery at work. It was amazing to see the amount of work the regional people do and the hectic pace they maintain in times of severe weather (and even in times of fair weather!). You literally have to be a part of it to see and appreciate it. I'm glad I had the opportunity. After Gabrielle, and after the severe weather outbreaks associated with the first strong cold front of the fall season, the weather did slow down, but my time as the ROC duty officer was filled with briefings to the Texas DEM for additional weather support. First, a barge ran into the only bridge which goes from South Padre Island to Port Isabel, Texas, and made travel impossible, so hundreds of tourists and residents were stranded on the island. Their worst fear was a land-falling hurricane onto South Padre Island with only one car ferry to get people off the island! The DEM was involved with the clean up of the accident (eight people died) so they needed daily forecasts of temperature, rain and winds for that area. Second, the state of Texas sent a task force to help with the search and rescue at ground zero in New York City, so the Texas DEM wanted daily forecasts for New York City so the task force knew what to expect during their work. I really felt I was providing a real service not only to my state, but to my country.

I would highly recommend that all Southern Region employees apply to be the ROC duty officer. Not only will you make many new friends and associate with some great colleagues during the experience, but you will understand how hard your regional headquarters works to support the meteorologists and hydrologists in the field.