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Fort Worth, Texas

August 2001



July has been another month marked by extremes in the weather across the Southern Region. In Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and western Louisiana, the big story has been the oppressive heat and accompanying dry conditions. Anchored underneath a persistent subtropical ridge, afternoon maximum temperatures consistently reached the century mark or beyond at many locations, with Oklahoma City recording the hottest temperature at 107 on July 12. Both Austin and Waco, Texas recorded 20 consecutive days of 100 or more. For Austin, this extended string of 100 days broke the old July record of 19 days set in July 1925. This same area also experienced a lack of rainfall, aggravating the already drought-like conditions. July rainfall averaged from 1.5 to 3 inches below normal across the area. Wichita Falls, Texas received only a trace of rain for the month, tying 1943 and 1999 as the driest July on record.

A return to more normal conditions in Florida has resulted in widespread rains and noticeable relief from the drought conditions which have existed for two years. Much of central and southern Florida actually had above normal rainfall in July. Orlando was a whopping 11.02 inches above normal! All-in-all, extremely welcome relief, especially for the land management agencies concerned with what had been chronic high fire threat.

Meanwhile, Puerto Rico experienced an unprecedented event as volcanic ash fell across portions of the island on July 29 and 30, suspending temporarily operations at the airport in San Juan. The source of the ash was a major eruption on the tiny island of Montserrat southeast of Puerto Rico. Prevailing winds carried the ash across Puerto Rico, depositing a dusting on San Juan. While Saharan dust has affected the island on occasions, reportedly this is the first time Puerto Rico has experienced ash fallout of this magnitude.

CONGRESSIONAL INQUIRIES. As private citizens we all have the privilege of contacting our representatives in Congress, but I want to remind Southern Region employees about regulations which govern any official interactions with Congress. Attached to this month's Topics is a memo from the Secretary of Commerce on the subject. I cannot emphasize too much the importance of working through the appropriate channels on any matters dealing with Congress. It is critically important to present a unified message consistent with the President's budget request and the Administration's position on legislative matters. Follow the policies which are clearly spelled out in Southern Region ROML S-4-96.

For reference, all should know the NOAA Budget Office is responsible for budget discussions with the Chairmen and Ranking Members of both the full Appropriations Committee and the Commerce, Justice, State Subcommittee and their associated staff. Meetings with these Members and staff must be arranged and attended by NOAA Budget Office representatives. If a NOAA employee is contacted directly by a member of the Appropriations staff, the call should be referred to the NOAA Budget Office.

The NOAA Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA) is responsible for all other Congressional contacts. This includes contacts with authorizing committees, Members of the Appropriations Committee other than the Chairmen and Ranking Members, and other individual Member offices and staff. Contacts with these offices must be initiated by OLA, and an OLA representative must attend all meetings. OLA also keeps the Secretary's Office of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs informed of all legislative and appropriations meetings. If a NOAA employee is contacted directly by any of these Members or their staff, OLA should be notified immediately.

MIC RETIREMENTS. Last month we wished good luck and a happy retirement to long-time WFO Fort Worth MIC, Gifford "Skip" Ely, as he completed nearly 38 years of federal service. Skip's outstanding contributions to the severe weather program in North Texas - capped with a DOC Silver Medal last year following the Fort Worth tornado - did not go unnoticed by local media, which participated in his retirement luncheon in force. Following graduation from Florida State and a Navy tour, Skip's previous NWS assignments, all in the Southern Region, included WSO Jacksonville, and WSFOs New Orleans, Jackson and San Antonio. Skip will continue to reside in Fort Worth and now devote even more time to golf.

This month, our other "local" MIC, Tom Hicks, retires from the FAA/CWSU where he has served as supervisory meteorologist since September 1990. Tom has made many outstanding contributions to CWSU operations, not only locally, but nationwide. His leadership and programming skills will be missed. A Texas A&M graduate, Tom steps down after an NWS career of nearly 30-years, including WSO Brownsville, WSFO San Antonio and CWSU Fort Worth. Tom plans to move to Melbourne, Florida following his retirement.

NEW WFO FORT WORTH MIC. We welcome Bill Bunting, former WCM at WFO Pleasant Hill (Kansas City), back to the Southern Region as the new MIC at WFO Fort Worth. Bill's previous assignments include WFO Norman. Originally from Virginia, Bill is a 1984 graduate of the University of Oklahoma. Bill's interest in severe weather has played a major role in shaping his career, and that of his wife as well - she's also a meteorologist, currently the DAPM at Pleasant Hill.


IFPS Web Site. The IFPS Web site is constantly being updated. The newest addition is a brief section entitled the "Regional IFPS Implementation Philosophy." The IFPS Web site is located at:

IFPS Implementation Schedule. The SR IFPS implementation schedule has been updated because of the addition of the region's IFPS/GFE training course and the subsequent addition of Linux boxes which include an updated version of GFE. The Linux boxes will now be configured and delivered to the WFOs after their participants attend the course. This enhanced schedule reflects direct input from IFPS focal points.

SRH IFPS/GFE Course. The first IFPS/GFE training course at SRH was completed last month and preliminary feedback from an end-of-course survey indicates it was a big success. The next course will be held August 14-17. The course has gained so much attention it will be moved to a larger room, because more people want to attend, including from other regions and NWSTC.

IFPS Conference Call. Our first Southern Region IFPS focal point conference call was held on August 1. The SR IFPS team plans to hold similar hour-long calls the first Wednesday of each month to provide offices an opportunity to voice concerns and share ideas regarding the implementation process. In turn, the call provides the Regional Implementation Team with feedback regarding issues which most need attention.

IFPS Staff Training. To paraphrase a discussion by Ken Falk, SOO at WFO Shreveport-

There is some good training material on the "IFPS Training Material" CD-ROM that your office will get from NWSTC after completing the residence IFPS course. This CD-ROM contains IFPS slide shows in Corel Presentations that you can use for training your staff. Also, there are some good WordPerfect documents concerning IFPS software for the user. I recommend you take a look at the information on this CD-ROM. I used some information from this CD-ROM and more information from the following GFE suite URL to construct an office IFPS User's Manual:



NOAA WEATHER RADIO NEWS. A new 1000 watt NWR transmitter was installed at Corsicana, Texas on July 23. This site is now operating in the 30-day test phase until it can be accepted. Other NWR sites due to be installed the first two weeks in August, include Blakely, Georgia, and Mena and Searcy, Arkansas.

The USDA NWR grant program has generated interest from over 40 sites in the Southern Region. Each of the sites are in varying stages of applying for the grants. Thus far, 15 sites have been successfully surveyed and determined to be acceptable sites by the Southern Region NWR USDA Expansion team.

VOICE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (VIP) UPDATE. The Voice Improvement Project is progressing toward completion of the voice evaluation stage. Focus groups totaling 30 participants were chosen for three sites in the Southern Region: Jackson, Fort Worth, and Tampa. The focus group evaluations will be completed by August 6, with results and final decision regarding the new voice expected shortly thereafter.


New Marine Weather Discussion. On July 30 the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch of the NCEP/Tropical Prediction Center began issuing a twice daily (at 0605 and 1805 UTC) Marine Weather Discussion (MWD), which is included in the existing Atlantic Tropical Weather Discussion (AWIPS header MIATWDAT and WMO header AXNT20 KNHC). The release times were chosen to best benefit SR marine forecasters in preparing the 0830 and the 2030 UTC Coastal Waters Forecast. The MWD appears immediately before the TROPICAL WAVES/LOWS/ITCZ section and it will be similar to the Marine Interpretation Message which the NCEP/Marine Prediction Center issues for the Atlantic and Pacific north of 30N. The MWD will describe expected warnings over areas in the Offshore Waters Forecast, including the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and the southwest north Atlantic, and will be used for coordination with Southern Region WFOs. The discussion may also highlight wind speeds and wave heights in relation to current forecasts and model guidance. Questions about the new product may be directed to Christopher Burr, chief of the TPC Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch.

Moving Maritime. MARITEL is an exciting way to get marine observations from mariners into AWIPS. Here is how a mariner can provide information:

If they are within about 40 miles of the coast a mariner can call an operator on their VHF radio and answer a few questions about the boat's call sign, location and the weather. Then the operator types in the message and sends it out. The observation is sent to AWIPS in only a few minutes.

To view these observations, you can choose "moving maritime" on your D2D to get the reports. The observation will plot with the Moving Maritime plots. It comes in the same avenue as ship reports, the same for the text. To view the observation, right click and select "sampling." When the curser is moved over the D2D plot the observation will reveal its self.

John Metz (WFO Corpus Christi) came up with a great idea. He created a sheet of the MARITEL instructions which he laminated and hands out to the mariners. His instructions are located on the SRH Web server at:

On Its Way: Graphical Marine Forecasts. Marine representatives from each region will meet at NWSH in October to discuss graphical marine products, but Southern Region is already working on that. A regional Graphical Marine Team, comprising John Metz, Brian Kyle, Mike Coyne and Charlie Paxton, is working on the look and feel of marine graphics right now, and we will present this at the October meeting. View a prototype at:

Get to Know Your PMO. If your WFO has a marine program, we encourage managers to arrange visits with the closest Port Meteorological Officer. Staff members should spend a day or two on the docks and ships learning about PMO duties, ship equipment maintenance and the recruitment of new ships for the VOS program. When the subject is appropriate don't forget to invite a local PMO to participate in office seminars. In the SR there are PMOs at Miami (Bob Drummond), Houston (Jim Nelson), Jacksonville (Larry Cain) and New Orleans (Jack Warrelmann). Without the PMOs, most ship observations would soon be lost.


Washington's Birthday vs Presidents' Day? With the new WSOM Chapter C-11 effective September 5, everyone wants to know about Washington's Birthday. Why? Basically, to make a long story short, the old version of C-11 had only six holidays, and the new version has eleven holidays, ten of which happen to be federal holidays. The OPM Web site, indicates dates for Washington's Birthday for coming years, but wait, isn't that really Presidents' Day? According to the Web site, "This holiday is designated as Washington's Birthday in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code, which is the law which specifies holidays for federal employees. Though other institutions such as state and local governments and private businesses may use other names, it is our policy to always refer to holidays by the names designated in the law." This means because all federal holidays were included in the new chapter, we will be using Washington's Birthday, not Presidents' Day, on the appropriate day in February.

C-11 Questions? Melinda Bailey (CWWD) has fielded many questions about the new C-11 chapter already and is ready for more! If you can't reach her at (817) 978-1100 ext. 107, email her at

ROC DUTY OFFICERS SELECTED. The Southern Region Regional Operations Center continues to be an important part of our outreach and coordination activities. We congratulate the following individuals who have been selected to serve as ROC Duty Officer for the period September 2001 through March 2002.

Greg Story - West Gulf RFC
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

Once again we had a large number of applicants for the eight available slots. We encourage everyone who applied this time or in the past to watch for the next call for applicants sometime in February.


WFO Brownsville MIC Richard Hagan taped a 15 minute hurricane preparedness interview for the McAllen city cable TV network. He also discussed the outlook for this season and how long it has been since hurricanes had impacted most of the Texas coast.

Hurricane Preparedness in Puerto Rico. WFO San Juan WCM Rafael Mojica conducted a hurricane hazards presentation for 62 safety and emergency staff members of the San Pablo Hospital in Bayamon. As part of the activity, Rafael reviewed their hurricane operations plan. Rafael also participated in the annual Fort Buchanan Community Hurricane Readiness Briefing. He reviewed the past season, discussed tropical cyclone basics, and gave an outlook for the 2001 season. The briefing was attended by 75 people.

WFO San Juan participated in the kick-off activities leading to the Governor's Proclamation of the Emergency Management Week. Officials from FEMA, PR State Department, and local emergency managers were present and lauded NWS for its vital contributions. This year the Emergency Management Week coincided with NWS Hurricane Awareness Week. As part of the week activities, MIC Israel Matos, WCM Rafael Mojica, and station hydrologist Eloy Colon participated in a series of conferences and workshops dealing with tropical cyclone forecasting uncertainties, flash flooding, and coordination issues. The conferences were attended by around 500 people.

WFO Nashville Severe Weather Seminar. Senior forecaster John Gordon organized a severe weather seminar at WFO Nashville. SPC lead forecaster Jack Hales headlined the event which drew 84 attendees. Forecasters came from WFOs Memphis and Morristown; Louisville, Paducah, and Jackson, Kentucky; WFO Birmingham and WSO Huntsville. The Weather Channel, Fort Campbell and local media were also represented. In addition, some spotters, emergency management directors, college students and professors, as well as Page Update, Inc., attended the very informative session.

Jack discussed SPC operations, forecasting techniques, case studies (including the Super Outbreak of April 3-4, 1974), and a watch exercise. He was impressed by the turnout and felt this seminar was his most satisfying over the past 20 years.

Lubbock Health and Safety Fair. WFO Lubbock WCM Ed Calianese, intern Shawn Ellis, MIC Rusty Billingsley, and SOO Loren Phillips staffed an NWS booth at a large health and safety fair sponsored by the Science Spectrum (co-located with the WFO). The event was attended by approximately 1500 people, most of which were children. The booth had tornado F-scale displays, an NWS weather balloon, a rain gage, an anemometer, and several NWRs - all of which promoted discussion with the booth's visitors. This event has been a success for the past several years and allows staff members to interact with a large number of local customers.

WFO Brownsville Hector Guerrero and Brian Miller gave a safety talk to 50 people that attended a hurricane awareness fair in San Benito, Texas. The fair was hosted by WFO Brownsville and the San Benito Emergency Management. Two local weathermen were present along with the American Red Cross and Texas Department of Public Safety. Local TV stations covered this event.

Weather Outreach to School Via Amateur Radio. WFO Nashville IT Michael Davis and storm spotter Troy Bryant organized a demonstration of amateur radio to a classroom of 20-30 fourth grade students at Betty Davis School in McEwen, Tennessee. Live from the classroom, students were able to ask weather-related questions directly to forecaster Scott Dickson located at the National Weather Service in Nashville which was over 70 miles away. They were able to speak with Scott via the Middle Tennessee Emergency Amateur Radio Society repeater link system which covers close to all 42 counties in the WFO Nashville county warning area. The session lasted approximately 20 minutes and most of the questions Scott answered were tornado related. This was an interactive demonstration as a part of the WFO Nashville Outreach Program.


WFO Lake Charles and the Drill Committee of the Southwest Louisiana Mutual Aid Association completed a hurricane drill which involved approximately 80 members of the association and the Calcasieu Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness. A hurricane sequence with associated surge, winds and rain was distributed over the radio and telephones. Reaction and response of emergency responders were tested throughout the drill.

StormReady Update. Several new communities were recognized as being StormReady in late June and July. Some of the newest additions include six sites in Oklahoma (by WFOs Norman and Tulsa) as well as one each in Texas (WFO Norman), Tennessee (WFO Memphis), and Florida (WFO Tampa Bay). As of the end of July, 33 Southern Region communities had received StormReady recognition for FY01. Also, WFO Tulsa reported the first three "re-recognitions" by renewing some of the original StormReady communities which were first recognized in 1999.


McAllen Hurricane Workshop. WFO Brownsville SOO Shawn Bennett and WFO Corpus Christi SOO Andy Patrick coordinated the Third Annual Hurricane Workshop at the Univision Studios in Mc Allen, Texas. Also attending were Bernard Meisner from SSD, WFO Corpus Christi MIC Ken Graham and WCM Donell Woods, WFO Brownsville WCM Hector Guerrero, Ramon Sierra, Mick Mc Guire, James Campbell, Mike Castillo, and Fred Vega. The morning session was chaired by Shawn and was devoted to talks given by Bernard, Mike, Andy and Shawn. The afternoon session focused on customer feedback and was moderated by Hector and Ken. The Spanish media challenged the NWS to provide them with Spanish products and more coordination. Univision, Televisa from Matamoros, Mexico, KGBT-TV, and KVLY Radio were represented.


RFC VERIFICATION PROGRAM STATUS. A prototype RFC categorical flood forecast verification Web site has been developed by the Arkansas-Red Basin RFC. We are in the process of enhancing the Web page presentation and layout prior to posting it on the Southern Region server. ABRFC will act as the central repository for collecting the quarterly categorical flood forecast verification metrics from the Southern Region RFCs and posting it on the SR server. Arkansas-Red Basin RFC began collecting these metrics the second quarter of calendar year 2001. We plan to implement the official RFC flood forecast verification Web site the fourth quarter of FY01. We will keep you posted on this project.

RIVER FLOOD WATCH PROJECT STATUS. We continue to make progress on our efforts to implement a river flood watch (RFW) text and associated graphical product. Last month Mike Boehmke, HAS forecaster at ABRFC and developer of the RFW text creation software, provided on-site training to West Gulf RFC and Southeast RFC. Keith Stellman, HAS forecaster from Lower Mississippi RFC and Jonathan Atwell, senior hydrologic forecaster from SERFC, developers of the RFW RFC and WFO RFW graphics, made some additional adjustments to the Web-based graphics. LMRFC has developed and tested a software package which will automatically generate these graphics at the RFCs. A ROML was sent to the field on this product and we are completing review of a PNS at the regional and national level. We plan to implement the river flood watch product in September 2001.

NRCS SOIL CLIMATE ANALYSIS NETWORK (SCAN) DATA. The Natural Resources Conservation Service is working closely with the Hydrologic Services Division at NWSH to provide the NWS with SHEF encoded collectives of SCAN data. This network currently comprises 45 locations nationwide which report hydrometeorological data on an hourly basis. Additional information about the SCAN network is at:

Forty-two percent of the 45 locations are in our region. States which currently have SCAN sites include Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Florida, Georgia, Arkansas, and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico. These collectives will be updated as additional observation locations are added to the network nationwide. We will keep you posted on this new source of hydrometeorological data and when it becomes available to the NWS.

FX-CONNECT STATUS. On July 23 SERFC successfully demonstrated FX-Connect linking the North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida state EOCs, and FEMA Region IV with the SERFC.. Based on this test, SERFC recommended each participant consider upgrading their telecommunication circuits to effect faster downloads of information for interagency briefings. SERFC plans to install the FX-Connect software at the National Hurricane Center in late July.

AHPS MEETING. Last month, Ben Weiger, chief of the CWWD/HSB, attended an Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Services (AHPS) meeting which focused on developing a management infrastructure for the AHPS program. $1 million in the NWS budget is earmarked for AHPS, however, there is the potential for this earmark to increase in the next few years. The proposed management structure includes the Operations Committee of the Corporate Board, an AHPS Review Committee (ARC), and project teams which will be identified based on regionally-submitted AHPS proposals, field-generated hydrologic requirement priorities, national priorities, and Congressional priorities. A significant amount of time at the meeting was spent drafting terms of reference for the ARC. The main focus of the ARC will be AHPS project planning and tracking. The proposed ARC membership will include representatives from the regional hydrologic services branch, the SR Climate, Water and Weather Division, the Office of Science and Technology and the Office of Hydrologic Development at NWSH, and NCEP. The chairman of the ARC would be the national hydrologic services division chief. This management structure will be briefed to the Corporate Board for their approval.

DAM SAFETY HANDBOOK. The Association of State Dam Safety Officials produced a dam safety handbook that we recently distributed to your office. The brochure contains technical information about dams, issues facing the dam safety community, and fact sheets containing state organizations responsible for dam safety and state-by-state statistics on dams.

DAM CATALOG UPDATE. Plans are underway to redesign the dam catalog in the WFO hydrologic forecast system. This redesign will include the integration and execution of the Simplified Dam Break (SMPDBK) model at the WFO, additional hydrologic database tables to store SMPDBK model input and output data, and an improved graphical user interface. This redesign will ultimately replace the current dam catalog in WHFS as well as the PC version. We will share more information about this project as we receive it from NWSH.



FTW EOC Orientation. Jerry Nunn, HIC and RFC staff members Alana McCants, Gregg Waller, Bob Corby, Frank Bell, Billy Finn, Jason Johnson, Patrick Sneeringer, Greg Shelton, Greg Story, and Mike Shultz visited the city of Ft. Worth Emergency Operations Center on July 18. Keith Welles, assistant emergency management coordinator, gave a presentation on city emergency operations, and he and the staff exchanged views on information and data exchange, particularly during extreme weather events.


Amite River Basin Commission Meeting. On July 24, MIC Paul Trotter, SH Dave Smith, and WCM Frank Revitte from WFO New Orleans/ Baton Rouge, and DOH Bob Stucky and HIC Dave Reed of LMRFC represented the NWS at an Emergency Management Workshop hosted by the Amite River Basin Commission (ARBC). About 50 people attended and the audience consisted of emergency managers and elected officials from cities and parishes in the Amite River Basin.

The NWS presentations included a brief discussion of the NWS mission, the NWS hydrologic services program, LMRFC forecast activities, LMRFC product dissemination, WFO responsibilities during a flood, and their product dissemination methods.

The folks from the LMRFC and WFO New Orleans spoke to the USGS after the meeting about obtaining random data from their GOES DCPs to support the NWS hydrology program. The USGS agreed to reprogram their GOES DCPs to provide more frequent random data. WFO New Orleans and LMRFC will work together to provide the USGS district office in Louisiana with a list of recommended random reporting criteria for the river and precipitation gages in the Amite River Basin.

The NWS participants also received a tour of the East Baton Rouge Parish's (EBRP) new Emergency Operations Center. This state of the art facility will be opened for use in late August. The building houses all emergency operations including 911 and traffic control. EBRP is interested in working with the NWS to set up video teleconferencing to use during significant weather and flood events.


NEW MOS SITES. A technical attachment this month includes a list of 69 stations in the Southern Region which the Meteorological Development Lab at NWSH proposes to add to the current AVN- and MRF-based MOS guidance systems during the coming fall. After reviewing a preliminary list, Southern Region offices suggested several additions, and a number of those (depending on the availability of data) were added to this list. A few more of the suggested sites will be added at the time of the next major MOS upgrade (after data have been collected to allow equation development).


WDM Workshops. The last of this fiscal year's Warning Decision Making Workshops was conducted last month, bringing to over 80 the number of Southern Region forecasters who have participated in these 3 day workshops, which began in 1997. The workshops are conducted by the Warning Decision Training Branch (formerly the OSF/Operations Training Branch), and they are held a sufficient number of times (usually four times) to provide training for one attendee from each WFO. Once that is accomplished the workshop is updated and the cycle is repeated. Participants are encouraged to provide local seminars and otherwise share information and knowledge they obtain from the workshops with others at their WFOs. The current workshop version (WDM-III) will be repeated twice next fall (first quarter of FY02), then the next version - focusing on latest AWIPS capabilities and the displaced real-time training simulators - will begin next summer.

Radar Operations Training (DLOC). The Warning Decision Training Branch has announced an enrollment period for the next WSR-88D Distance Learning Operations Course (DLOC) for meteorologists and hydrologists, including interns, who have not previously completed DLOC or the in-residence version of the operations course. The deadline for registering is August 8. The DLOC will be taught via a combination of teletraining, CD-ROM, Web-based instruction, and on-station training. In addition, all students will attend a 3 day DLOC Workshop at the COMET classroom in Boulder next January or February. The course will be conducted over a five month period, and will require a significant time commitment from each student. For more information go to This DLOC home page will be updated regularly.

Nominations for FY02 Training Courses. All MICs and HICs have been requested to provide nominations for in-residence courses planned for the coming fiscal year, including courses offered at the NWSTC, COMET and those conducted by the Warning Decision Training Branch in Norman. This is part of our annual process of scheduling attendance for all classes at the beginning of the year (recognizing that adjustments during the year will no doubt be necessary). Our goal in this is to provide as much advance notice as possible to facilitate planning at the field offices. The deadline for responses (to SSD) is August 31, which will allow the individuals at SRH who coordinate attendance at the various courses to compile lists and provide information back to office managers prior to the earliest classes in October. (Please note that NWSTC engineering, electronics and facilities-related courses are not included in the above; scheduling for those classes is handled in the usual manner by the SOD Electronics Program Manager, Steve Clark.)

BUILDING A FLORIDA MESONET. At a recent two-day meeting in Tallahassee initiated by Andy Devanas, a meteorologist at the Florida EOC, representatives from a number of agencies discussed the collection and sharing of weather data. Participants from the state EOC, the University of Florida FAWN (Florida Agricultural Weather Network), the Florida water management districts, Florida State University, the University of South Florida, and several Florida NWS offices (represented by SOOs) reached a consensus to start building a "Florida Mesonet" in a collaborative and piece-by-piece manner. Tim Ross from NWSH noted that an official policy on "non-typical data" such as the data sets envisioned to be brought together to create the Florida Mesonet has not yet been signed off on at NWSH. The NWS representatives at the meeting recognize the need to proceed slowly and carefully within the draft policy which now exists.

It was decided at the meeting to initiate the project by incorporating UF FAWN data ( into AWIPS/LDAD via SHEF code, to be listed in an MIARR1MIA (PIL) so forecasters at the Florida WFOs can see it plotted in AWIPS, and to facilitate sharing those data with external users. Miami SOO Pablo Santos is working with FAWN staff to SHEF encode their data and obtain metadata for NWS systems. For this data set, the ingest will be at WFO Miami and WFO Jacksonville will be the backup site. This is the first of many data sets which have been identified for AWIPS/LDAD to help establish the "Florida Mesonet."

IMPACT OF ALLISON RAINFALL. The rainfall associated with tropical storm Allison and her long-lived remnants was remarkable in many ways. The storm will certainly go down as the most costly tropical storm ever to affect the United States. Damage in the Houston area alone has been estimated at $4 billion or more. As the remnant circulation slowly progressed eastward across the Southern Region during the ensuing 10 days after landfall, rains of 10-20 inches or more fell in southern Louisiana and in north Florida/south Georgia. A broad area of general 5-10 inch rains extended from Houston to the Georgia coast.

Rich Tinker at the NCEP Climate Prediction Center compiled the following interesting statistics regarding the impact of Allison-induced rains in the ten Southern region states during June, 2001. The area-weighted average rainfall in the SR (exclusive of Puerto Rico and the USVI) during June was 4.20". The 1971-2000 mean for June is 3.82", so the observed total was 110% of normal (departure from normal was +0.38"). Allison accounted on average for 1.56" of the June SR rainfall, or about 37% of the total.

If the rainfall totals attributable to the circulation associated with Allison and her remnants are excised and replaced by the daily normal, then SR rainfall would have been 2.91", or 76% of normal (departure -0.91"). If Allison's totals are excised and replaced with zero, then SR rainfall would have been 2.64", or just 69% of normal (departure -1.18")!

NEW GOES. GOES-M, the fifth of five satellites in the current series, was successfully launched on July 23. This is the most advanced "weather satellite" yet, and is equipped to observe more than its predecessors. It is the first to have a sophisticated instrument for detecting solar storms. An on-board X-ray imager will record the sun's atmosphere each minute, providing images which will be used by NOAA and the USAF to forecast intensity and speed of solar disturbances that could destroy satellite electronics, disrupt long-distance radio communications or surge power grids. The imager enables forecasters to better protect billions of dollars worth of commercial and government assets in space and on the ground.

After achieving the proper orbit GOES-M will be renamed GOES-12 and it will be stored in orbit until needed as a replacement for GOES-8 or -10. Fully checking the satellite out will take about three months. At the time this is written GOES is undergoing a series of apogee maneuver firings of its main thrusters, aiming the satellite toward the proper geostationary altitude. For example, the second maneuver (July 26) lasted 11 minutes, 55 seconds, but was terminated about 4.5 seconds because of temperature problems. All subsystems are safe and remain well within limits. The maneuver raised perigee about 1500 km and increased the orbital period to approximately 14 hours. The temperature problem is being studied but the plan now is to continue to perform shorter and more frequent firings; a total of 9 or 10 will now be required to achieve geosynchronous orbit.

CAMEX and KAMP. The Convection And Moisture Experiment (CAMEX) is a series of field research investigations sponsored by NASA's Earth Science Enterprise. The fourth field campaign in the series is scheduled for August 16 - September 24 this year and will be based out of Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida. CAMEX-4 is focused on the study of tropical cyclone development, tracking, intensification, and landfall impacts, using NASA-funded aircraft and surface remote sensing. Aircraft will fly over, through, and around selected storms as they approach landfall in the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and along the East Coast. The data they collect, combined with satellite, radar and other data, should provide additional insight to forecasters and hurricane modelers and enhance our forecasts and warnings.

While remote sensing of the hurricane environment is the primary objective of CAMEX-4, there will also be separate flights to study thunderstorm structure, precipitation systems, and atmospheric water vapor profiles. This portion of CAMEX-4 is known as KAMP, the Keys Area Microphysics Project. The objective of KAMP flights, within approximately 300 nm of the Key West Naval Air Station, is to improve quantitative precipitation estimates from passive and active microwave instruments. Prof. Mike Biggerstaff and students from Texas A&M University will be operating out of the Key West WFO as they participate in the project. In addition to providing collaborative space, the WFO staff will help ensure the availability of WSR-88D Level-2 archive data and provide supplemental upper air soundings as called for.

WARNING ENVIRONMENT SIMULATOR/DISPLACED REAL TIME AWIPS. The Warning Environment Simulator/Displaced Real Time AWIPS (WES/DRT AWIPS) workstations and required Informix user licenses have been delivered to all WFOs, RFCs and the Spaceflight Meteorology Group.

SSD has been working closely with the Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB) and COMET to beta-test the WES software and installation procedures. The software includes a LINUX version of D2D, WARGEN, a product notification server, Informix, software to convert an archived case study into the WES/DRT-AWIPS format, and an AWIPS local application to locally archive AWIPS products for a local case study. We identified some bugs which will be fixed before the final version of the software and initial case study are re-distributed to the field offices later this month.

To support the development of local case studies, SRH plans to maintain a 30-day archive of all AWIPS data at SRH. We will distribute the data to the field offices on CD-ROMs--eventually on DVD-ROMs--on request. Field offices need only archive their radar data using the AWIPS local application software which will be distributed with the WES/DRT software. The primary support for the WES/DRT machines will be provided by SSD (Bernard Meisner), with secondary support provided by the National SOO-SAC Coordinator and the WDTB. Paul Kirkwood (SOD) will maintain the AWIPS data archive, and has been working with the WDTB and the AWIPS Program Office on the multi-monitor configuration.

SSD will start training field office staff on the configuration and use of the WES/DRT AWIPS workstations later this month. We'll cover: initial configuration of the workstations (including the second monitor), installation and operation of the WES/DRT AWIPS software, how to locally archive data for a case study, installation of the case study data, conversion of case study data to the DRT AWIPS format, and localization/customization of the D2D.

QPF GUIDANCE ADDED TO AVN-BASED MOS. Effective with the 1200 UTC forecast cycle on July 24, 2001, guidance for categorical forecasts of precipitation amount (QPF) was added to the new AVN MOS messages. These messages are identified with WMO headers FOPA20, FOUS21-FOUS26, and FOAK37-FOAK39, and are stored as MAV products in the AWIPS text data base. In addition, new forecast equations to predict the probability of precipitation (PoP) will be implemented.

The PoP guidance provides forecasts of the probability of precipitation equaling or exceeding 0.01 inches of liquid-equivalent amount in a 6- or 12-h period. The 6-h probabilities for all sites are labeled as P06 and are valid 6-12, 12-18, 18-24, ..., and 66-72 hours after 0000 or 1200 UTC. Except for the stations in the FOPA20 message, the 12-h probabilities labeled as P12 are valid for periods of 12-24, 24-36, 36-48, 48-60, and 60-72 hours after either 0000 or 1200 UTC. For the FOPA20 sites, the 12-h probabilities are valid for periods of 6-18, 18-30, 30-42, 42-54, and 54-66 hours after 0000 or 1200 UTC. The QPF guidance labeled as Q06 and Q12, respectively for the 6- and 12-h periods, provides categorical forecasts of precipitation amount for the same projections as the PoP. The categorical definitions are as follows:

0 = no precipitation;
1 = 0.01 to 0.09 inches;
2 = 0.10 to 0.24 inches;
3 = 0.25 to 0.49 inches;
4 = 0.50 to 0.99 inches;
5 = > 1.00 inches (Q06);
1.00 - 1.99 inches (Q12)

6 = > 2.00 inches (Q12 only)

More details on the new guidance may be found at the following sites: and

In addition to the new QPF guidance, the Meteorological Development Laboratory (MDL) is updating the equations used to produce the visibility and obstruction to vision guidance available in the MAV message. This update eliminates spurious forecasts of low visibility conditions which had been noted by several forecasters.

Finally, MDL has converted the administration of their mailing list to a Web-based list server. Members who joined the list prior to July 12, 2001 have already been converted. Members who joined after that date were directed to the Internet address The mos_mailing_list can be found under the topic: Product Dissemination and Systems Forum. This list is currently set up for the purpose of sending subscribers notices of MOS changes and related announcements. It is not currently configured to receive messages from the members.

MESO ETA SPRING CHANGE PACKAGE IMPLEMENTED. At 1800 UTC 24 July 2001, the following changes to the operational Meso Eta model were implemented:

- the Eta 3-dimensional variational (3DVAR) analysis was modified by introducing a new algorithm to improve the balance between mass and wind analyses, by performing the analysis on the Eta vertical coordinate surfaces instead of pressure surfaces, and by increasing the horizontal resolution of the internal analysis grid

- assimilation of hourly analyses of observed precipitation during the Eta data assimilation system (EDAS) run. This will correct precipitation biases during the pre-forecast assimilation period, improve the soil moisture field and improve the Meso Eta model's short-term precipitation forecast. The hourly NCEP national 4-km precipitation analysis is used during the EDAS based on 2500 hourly rain gauges and hourly precipitation estimates from the WSR-88D radars

- the land-surface physics scheme in the Meso Eta model has been upgraded. During the warm season near-surface sensible and dew point temperatures should be improved due to improved formulations of bare soil evaporation and soil thermal conductivity. Cold season improvement include more accurate shelter temperatures over patchy snowcover, new introduction of new state variables (frozen soil, variable snowpack density), and new maximum snow albedo database.

No changes to any of the standard Eta model output grids or products available from the Family of Services, the AWIPS Satellite Broadcast Network, or from the OSO server were made. More details can be found in NWS Technical Procedures Bulletin Number 479

OPEN RPG TRAINING. The Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB) will soon be providing Open Radar Product Generator (RPG) operator training to all field offices. The training will include a CD-ROM, a teletraining session, and an on-line Electronic Performance Support System.

CD-ROM. There will likely be two releases of the ORPG CD-ROM. The first release will be in early October to all sites that will be deployed in 2001. Required changes (if any) will be made, and a final version will be mailed to all offices in November. This is a comprehensive CD-ROM (authored by Tony Marci) and covers most ORPG operator tasks.

Teletraining. A teletraining session of approximately one and half hours in length will be offered to each site two times in the two- to three-week period prior to deployment at the site. This teletraining session will cover the most important ORPG operator duties (e.g., clutter suppression, environmental data, PRF change). The WDTB will contact sites well in advance to advise them of the registration procedures. For example, WFO Memphis is scheduled for Open RPG deployment the week of September 24, and will be offered a couple of teletraining sessions during September. WFO Fort Worth is scheduled for deployment the week of October 29, and will be offered teletraining sessions in October.

Electronic Performance Support System. The ORPG has browser-based Help. This consists of step-by-step instructions to accomplish all common operator tasks.

OVERVIEW OF NHC PREDICTION MODELS REVISED. Bernard Meisner (SSD) has updated his Technical Attachment, "An Overview of NHC Prediction Models" ( or select the Training and FAQs link from the Tropical Cyclone Links Web page). Recent changes to the models include: 1) the coupling of the GFDL hurricane model with the Princeton Ocean Model for storms in the North Atlantic basin; 2) improvements in the initialization of tropical cyclones in the AVN model and a significant reduction in the number of false alarm storms generated by the model; 3) the new GUNS (GFDL, UKMET and NOGAPS) ensemble which has demonstrated skill in both basins and was, on average, the best of all the early models for nearly all forecast periods for both the North Atlantic and eastern North Pacific basins last year; and 4) the Decay SHIP intensity guidance model which provided the best early intensity guidance for both basins last year.



UPPER AIR. At the request of NWS Headquarters, Southern Region systems specialist Charlie Lake (SOD) was called on to assist in the repair of the upper air ART I and ART II systems at Sterling, Virginia. After two days of troubleshooting and working together, the repairs were made and the systems were back in service.

IT. We experienced several e-mail problems in July, and the impact emphasized again how dependent we've become on email to conduct routine business. First, we lost one of the hard drives in our disk array on the main mail server. It took several hours to switch over to our backup server to get mail flowing again. At that time messages were being delivered but people were not able to read the body of the text. We have been working with Netscape support to resolve this issue and we continue to develop procedures which will make the system as fail-safe as possible.

AWIPS. After a lot of hard work, AWIPS Build 5.1.1 is still having a problem with spontaneous logouts. Hopefully, PRC and HP will be able to resolve this issue soon. Meanwhile, this Build has been halted until August 15. If the logout problem cannot be fixed by then, the build will be dropped and the fixes from build 5.1.1 will then be folded into AWIPS build 5.1.2, with planned implementation in the fall.

Workstation performance is still a problem with many sites reporting system slow-downs during active weather as their AWIPS becomes slower to respond. Several improvements have been made, but more improvements are needed before full utilization of the software in AWIPS.

Our GFE Linux workstations have been installed at WFOs Amarillo, San Angelo, Forth Worth, Midland, Austin/San Antonio and Morristown. Thus far no problems have been encountered and the offices have begun training on these systems. The next set of offices to receive their GFE training on these systems are WFOs Houston/Galveston, Little Rock, Lake Charles, Memphis, Mobile, and Key West. Instructions for setting up these Linux boxes will be handed out at the class, and generic instructions will be available from our Web server at:


NATIONAL VS. REGIONAL SAFETY PURCHASES. A national conference call was held with the WSH Office of Operational Support (OOS) safety personnel and regional SOD staffs to determine which safety equipment items were best purchased on a single national contract vs. regional or local purchases. Items common to all sites such as portable eyewash stations, defibrillators, and fall protection equipment were identified for national purchase, as well as service contracts for noise surveys, spill prevention control plans, and environmental/safety training. Regions will be responsible for personal protective equipment (PPE) and field inspections of towers and river gauge sites. Southern Region field sites have submitted their respective lists of PPE for regional review with a projected cost target of $100K.

NOISE SURVEY IMPACTS. A national survey of airport ASOS locations in close proximity to runways with jet air carrier and/or military operations will likely require the implementation of hearing protection programs for the ETs who maintain these sites. This will require annual audiograms and recordkeeping for the duration of the employee's tenure with NWS. Some FAA noise measurements may already exist for FAA facilities in close proximity to the ASOS sites, such as instrument landing systems transmitters.

RDA SHELTER COOLING UNIT REPLACEMENTS. Bids are being received for replacement of the radar data aquisition dual cooling units at three sites: WFOs Key West, Houston and Albuquerque. The Radar Operations Center estimated the life of these units at 3.3 years and these are well beyond that. The replacement units are still in production at an installed cost averaging $9K per site. More sites will be identified in FY02 by low HVAC reliability and loss of radar operations due to cooling failures.

SPILL PLAN UPDATES. EPA-required updates to six Southern Region spill plans for fuel spills have been submitted to WSH/OOS for inclusion in FY02 contracts, including one site at the new Tallahassee WFO to be located at Florida State University. The other five sites to receive spill plan updates with the highest potential to pollute "navigable waterways" are WFOs Jacksonville, New Orleans, Houston/Galveston, Lake Charles and Tampa Bay.

OPEN RPG UPDATE. The initial beta testing for the open RPG (ORPG) was successfully completed at WFO Norman the week of July 23. A few minor flaws were detected and will be addressed in testing at the next set of beta test sites. On August 27, WFO Atlanta will be the first Southern Region beta test site. Full scale installation and deployment is currently scheduled for late September at WFO Memphis with one to two Southern Region sites being slated for installation until completed in mid-2002. A table of the installation dates has been provided to each WFO.

Refer to the item in SSD's section of this month's Topics for information regarding ORPG training.

PUP DECOMMISSIONING. Legacy PUPs from three Southern Region RFCs have already been formally decommissioned, and property disposed of. This has also been done at several CWSUs. One supplemental PUP has also been decommissioned at WFO San Juan. A draft property disposal plan is under review for when PUPs can be decommissioned en masse. NWSH is currently reviewing procedures and policy as to when the remaining PUPs can be decommissioned.

LAUGHLIN AFB WSR-88D OPERATIONAL. During the last Memorial Day weekend, a severe thunderstorm packing 80 kt plus winds and hail exceeding three inches in diameter struck the Laughlin AFB (KDFX) WSR-88D site at Bracketville, Texas. The radome suffered extensive damage, and needed to be replaced in its entirety. This is the first time a NEXRAD radome has suffered catastrophic damage from severe weather in the Continental US. WFOs in south-central Texas implemented backup procedures until a new radome could be manufactured, shipped to the site and installed. The Radar Operations Center in Norman was able to complete this task and get the KDFX WSR-88D operational again the middle of last month. All-in-all, this was a remarkable response to a unique problem, and we congratulate all who were involved.

ASOS COMMISSIONINGS NEAR COMPLETION. The FAA sponsored ASOS at DeQueen, Arkansas was commissioned last month. This means all FAA sponsored ASOS sites within the FAA Southwest Region in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana are now commissioned. Congratulations to all WFO employees who helped make this possible from the beginning of the ASOS commissioning process back in the early 1990s. Two FAA sponsored sites in the FAA Southern Region remain to be commissioned.

ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS. Nineteen Mitsubishi uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems have been installed to date. WFO Austin/San Antonio is scheduled to receive a new unit this fall.

All rotary transition power source units installed at Southern Region Doppler radar sites have been removed and replaced with the PowerWare Static UPSs. Seventeen units have been installed to date. A schedule to continue installation of transition shelters and static UPSs at the remaining radar sites should be released this month.

RADIOSONDE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM. Site drawing verification for the Radiosonde Replacement System has been completed for the 23 upper air sites in the Southern Region. Detailed information includes location of existing UAIBs, communication/power run conduits and distances. The data will allow prospective bidders to prepare a fixed price proposal for the installation of the Telemetry Receiver System (TRS) at all CONUS upper air sites. Work will include removal of the existing ART system.

HOUSTON/GALVESTON PROJECT. Meetings for the new Galveston County Emergency Services Facility (GCEOC) with the design firm, county officials and NWS personnel are scheduled for August 7-9. Electrical, mechanical and space requirements for the new facility will be discussed. In November last year the Galveston County bond election approved a proposal to fund the new 20,000 square foot facility at $2 million. The initial design estimate is $4 million. The structure is designed to withstand a Category IV hurricane and a Category V storm surge at a cost of $200 per square foot. Options are to obtain the additional $2 million from other sources, and/or reduce the square footage of the current design.

TALLAHASSEE PROJECT. A SR team has been assembled to plan and coordinate the move of the Tallahassee WFO into the new facility on the FSU campus. The new office is tentatively scheduled for completion in January 2002.

FACILITIES COMPUTERIZED MAINTENANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. In the previous 30 days, 38 work requests have been submitted, 60 work orders have been issued, and 41 work orders were completed and closed. There are 200 facility work orders open.

FACILITIES DRAFTING SUPPORT. A map depicting NWR signal coverage for Alabama was completed. A furniture/equipment layout plan was created for WFO Tallahassee at Florida State University.



WFO BROWNSVILLE. WCM Hector Guerrero gave an office tour to two very enthusiastic 10 year olds who aspire to be meteorologists. One was a girl who has already read numerous books about weather and has gained quite a bit of knowledge of meteorology. The other, a young man, is being motivated by his Aunt Beulah--named after hurricane Beulah.

Senior forecaster Jeff Philo gave a tour to 15 high school students participating in a summer math and science enrichment class with the University of Texas.

WFO SAN JUAN. DAPM Francisco Balleste and senior forecasters Miguel Sierra and Scott Stripling each conducted office tours for groups of science teachers. Each group was part of the University of Puerto Rico Center for Engineering Studies, Statewide System Initiative. The group arrived at the WFO early in the morning to see upper air balloon procedures and data analysis.

MIC Israel Matos, was the guest speaker at a U.S. Customs Safety, Health and Security Committee monthly meeting. Israel presented hurricane preparedness to a group of 32 persons. Israel also met with members of the Puerto Rico Federal Executives Association to discuss the draft of the emergency contingency plan for federal agencies in Puerto Rico. He conducted a presentation on hurricane preparedness followed by an in-depth discussion of the plan. Around 55 persons attended the meeting.

WFO SHREVEPORT. MIC Lee Harrison and met intern Jason Hansford did a Winter Storm presentaton in Monroe, Louisiana for the Skywarn Network in Quachita Parish. Lee talked about how snow/sleet/freezing rain formed and gave a brief overview of the 42 year winter weather study done for Monroe from 1959-2001; while Jason presented two recent winter weather case studies for the area plus winter preparations and winter weather climatology for the area.

Forecaster Bill Parker and summer students Bryan Warning and Kimberly Coleman gave a talk to the Lighthouse of Volunteers of America located in Shreveport. Kim presented information on the safety rules for flash floods, hail, and hurricanes, and Bryan presented information on thunderstorms, lightning, damaging winds and tornadoes. There were approximately 40 in attendance, all of whom were African-American.

ASA Lisa Farrar, Bryan Warning, and Kimberly Coleman gave a talk to children from the Brite Temple Summer Camp, a North Louisiana Jewish Federation located in Shreveport, on weather safety rules and upper air. The campers ranged in age from 3 to 8 years old.

RFC TULSA. The diversity video "A Tale of O" was shown on June 26 and 28. Approximately 20 RFC/WFO employees attended the two viewings.

Bill Lawrence, ABRFC DOH, gave a presentation at the local AMS meeting on June 20. The presentation provided information about ABRFC operations and a case study of a recent flood event.

WFO MELBOURNE. Justin Mosely, a student volunteer from Vero Beach, has won the AMS/Industry Minority Scholarship and will be recognized at the AMS Annual Meeting in Orlando next January. The scholarship is for $6,000 for the first two years of college. Justin will be attending Florida State University and will return to the Melbourne area in the summers.


July 1-31, 2001

Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
Christopher Smallcomb WFO MAF Promotion to CR Met Intern, GS-9
Doug Cain WFO MAF Promotion to WR Forecaster, GS-12
Scott Cordero WFO BRO Reassignment to PR Senior Forecaster
Michael Langevin WFO MEG Reassignment to WR Forecaster, GS-12
Timothy Erickson WFO LCH Promotion to CR Met Intern, GS-11
Ernest Cathey WFO FWD Retirement Service Hydrologist, GS-12
Brian Francis WFO MAF Reassignment to CR SOO, GS-13
Charles Maxwell WFO ABQ Transfer outside NWS Forecaster, GS-12
Renee Wasko RFC TUA Reassignment to CR Hydrologist

Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Roy Pringle WFO MFL Reassignment from PR Forecaster, GS-12
David Marn WFO EYW New Hire-Reinstatement Met Intern, GS-11
Gar Kenneth Nelson WFO OHX Reassignment from WR El Tech, GS-11
Robert McFall WFO EPZ Promotion from WR ESA, GS-12
Gary Petroski SRH SOD Promotion from SPC IT Program Mgr., GS-13
Bill Bunting WFO FWD Promotion from CR MIC, GS-15
Todd Lindley WFO TSA New Hire from SCEP Met Intern, GS-7
Kati Sommer WFO EYW New Hire from SCEP Met Intern, GS-7
Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Ernesto Morales WFO SJU Reassignment from EYW Forecaster, GS-7
Kerry Jones WFO ABQ Promotion from ABQ Senior Forecaster, GS-13
Clay Morgan WFO LZK Promotion from JAN Senior Forecaster, GS-13
Laura Finlon WFO EYW Promotion from EYW Forecaster, GS-9
Chad Entremont WFO JAN Promotion from BMX Forecaster, GS-11
Alexander Lyster WFO MAF Promotion from MAF Senior Forecaster, GS-13
Brian Miller WFO BRO Promotion from BRO Senior Forecaster, GS-13
Marty Pope WFO JAN Reassignment from ORN Sr. Srvc Hydrologist, GS-13

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