UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
August 1, 1996
OLYMPICS SUPPORT. As this issue of Topics is being prepared, we are halfway through providing weather support for the Olympic Games. The weather has cooperated in the Southeast and has been of major interest to Olympics management, but not disruptive to the games. From all accounts, our forecasters are doing an excellent job and the National Weather Service has earned a very positive image regarding the emerging capabilities of science and technology. We are very proud of all involved in this special effort.
By the time most read this the Summer Games will be over, but our support will continue for a few more weeks, during which the Special Olympics will be held in many of the same venues.
REGIONAL DIRECTORS' CONFERENCE. During the week of July 22, an NWS Transition Conference was held outside Baltimore. This is a scheduled biannual review of modernization progress and other matters of interest to the Weather Service. A full discussion was conducted on the implementation of AWIPS, including the milestones which must be met over the remainder of this summer and into the fall. We are getting very close to seeing the first system deployments into operational field facilities. Many issues are playing now in this program area, but it is sure nice to see the demonstration deployment begin. NWSO Tulsa will receive the first units in the Southern Region, which at present are scheduled for late summer. Other important subjects of discussion at the meeting included budget expectations in FY 1997 and beyond, as well as FTE ceilings over the next several fiscal years. Those discussions are not pleasant, because they make tough decisions and real challenges to managing the NWS over the next several years. As firm decisions are made, we will pass them along.
INTEGRATED MAR OPERATIONS AND SERVICES TEAM (IMOST). Larry Vannozzi (WCM, NWSFO Lubbock) is the Southern Region representative on the IMOST. Larry has provided the following report for the purpose of acquainting others in the region with the IMOST and its activities. As Southern Region's representative, he is interested in receiving your comments concerning any IMOST issues.
The second meeting of the IMOST was held at NWSH April 30 to May 2. The following overview of the mission and activities of this team was provided by Team Leader Michael Tomlinson. The IMOST was formed in April 1995. Its mission is support for the NWS effort, led by the Office of Meteorology (OM), to implement modernized field operations and services. The 11-member team consists of:
Michael Tomlinson (Team Leader) -- OM, Transition Meteorologist
William Lerner -- OM, Service Confirmation and Assessment staff
Wendy Wolf -- MSM, Modernization Systems Management Coordinator
Anthony Siebers -- Eastern Region, MIC, NWSO Wakefield
Larry Vannozzi -- Southern Region, WCM, NWSFO Lubbock
Preston Leftwich -- Central Region, Regional Science Officer
Michael Conger -- Western Region, Lead Forecaster, NWSFO Salt Lake City
John Dragomir -- Alaska Region, Regional Techniques Development Meteorologist
James Partain -- Pacific Region, Regional Scientist
Jeff Zimmerman -- OH, Hydrologic Service Program Plans Coordinator
Edwin Danaher -- NCEP, HPC Development Training Branch
IMOST's second meeting, sponsored by OM last April/May, began by reviewing potential impacts of recent events on the timing and details of initial AWIPS deliveries, field office operations, and operational evaluations. Also discussed were the interrelationships of recently cross-referenced OM, OH, and NCEP MAR transition steps as reflected in staff documents and/or transition plans. The team then briefly reviewed comments on the updated Integrated Operations and Services Plan (IOSP). The IOSP will be published soon and packaged for distribution to NWS regional and field offices, along with updates to OM's Service Transition Plans.
The team then reviewed the status of ongoing tasks assigned to sub-teams and determined required future actions regarding tasks and issues on which they were based. Major tasks completed include:
(1) The IMOST MAR planning workshop.
(2) The IMOST MAR operations Table-top Exercises.
(3) Facilitating coordination and resolution of the operational roles and products of the Hydrometeorological and Storm Prediction Centers of NCEP and of the NCEP Aviation Weather and Storm Prediction Centers and forecast offices.
(4) Facilitating and assisting in the development of NCEP transition plans coordinated with OM transition and program plans.
Other completed tasks include (1) investigation of the potential impact of uncoordinated data decoder applications at NCEP, field offices, and for AWIPS; (2) cross-referencing projected data flows with currently planned AWIPS data flow and storage capacities; (3) a review of, and status report on, field office scientific training plans and cooperative scientific development projects.
The team was briefed by Louis Uccellini (OM Director) on issues requiring IMOST focus. Among these items are (1) development of clear field office operational forecast support requirements, and (2) documentation of the relationship between NCEP products and data flows supporting the hydrometeorological forecast process. He also stated that greater awareness of IMOST accomplishments and ongoing activities is needed across the NWS.
Staff members from OM and NCEP with expertise on NCEP planning, forecast coordination, product dissemination and AWIPS dataflow, storage specifications, and Appendix K, joined the discussions involving those issues. This permitted a valuable exchange of insights and information. As a result, the team became better versed in the details and background information regarding each task or potential task area.
Major team tasks now include:
(1) Developing the detailed description of WFO forecast support requirements as part of the MAR forecast process documentation as requested by the OM director. This was addressed in original team tasks as facilitating and coordinating development of plans for "first guess" grid fields. The task team will now provide a statement of specific required value-added digital/grid element products and the RFC/WFO services they will support.
(2) Developing a proposal for a set of interrelated processes by which scientific, technological, data flow, and end-product requirements and developments can be coordinated and effectively validated and implemented.
Additional new tasks include adding an IMOST section to the OM Internet home page, providing regional staff notes with reports on IMOST meetings and other activities, and ensuring that regional SSDs and MSDs are aware of IMOST tasks and the resources that are being utilized.
NWSH APPROVES "EVENT DRIVEN ZONES." NWSH has approved the concept of "event driven zones." This means that those offices desiring to do so may change their scheduled Zone Forecast issuance to twice per day (generally around 4 a.m. and 4 p.m.) with updates as the weather dictates. Southern Region offices wishing to participate must notify MSD by August 16. NWSH will issue a PNS on August 30 announcing all the locations which will be converting to the "two-a-day" scheduled zone issuance concept. November 1, 1996, is the date the change will take place.
NWR DIGITAL CONSOLE/SAME INSTALLATIONS CONTINUING. T.L. Farrow continues his diligent efforts in installing the new NWR systems. Digital consoles and SAMEs were installed in Miami and San Angelo in July. Eighty-one of the proposed 95 Digitals have now been installed. The Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) has been installed on 42 consoles. Replacement of the three AMPRO units at NWSO Knoxville/Tri-Cities with Digitals and SAMEs will likely be around mid August.
NWR/RADAR ON CATV REMOVED/RESTORED. NWSO Tampa Bay received a letter from an NWR user in the Naples, Florida, area. It reflects the usefulness of radar and NWR audio override on CATV and dealt constructively with the NWS. Portions of the letter are presented below:
When you returned my phone call on June 14...you were very generous with your expertise addressing our problem.... Continental Cablevision had removed our continuous radar scan from NWS Miami with simulcast of your NOAA weather radio....A NEW STAR IS BORN. Greetings from Southern Region. I'm Ken Graham, a meteorologist intern in Slidell and the newest STAR here at SRH. For the next three months, I will eat, drink, dream, and breathe NWR (among many other projects within MSD). My first few weeks at SRH have literally flown by, an indicator that the next three months will as well. Thus far, I have worked with MSD on the long and short fused backup ROML. I have acquired a new appreciation of what goes on behind the scenes when it comes to ROML writing. I have been working with the MSD team on NWR transmitter expansion and new technology coming to an NWR near you. We are drawing maps (coloring 101) that show what counties/parishes get the 1050hz tone and the SAME messages for EAS. This same (pardon the pun) process will have to be done for each NWR transmitter.
A copy of my letter to Naples Daily News is enclosed. The paper that same day, June 14, published an additional seven with similar complaints. Your NOAA broadcasts are widely regarded as vital.
...I had been scheduled as the guest on NOG radio the next morning on "Florida Outdoors." The loss of NOAA radio on cable dominated most of the hour. Four callers to the talk format addressed this loss of public service in words aptly described ranging from upset to outrage. You and your colleagues are vital.
On Monday, 17 June, the continuous 24-hour NWS radar with NOAA broadcast overlay was restored to Collier County cable service. On 18 June, I received a letter from Mr. Ken Fuchs, Manager, Continental Cablevision, thanking me for our concern and eliciting their commitment to public service.
Your input, your patient answers to my queries, had become key to resolving this problem. We had done our homework. You deserve our thanks, for myself, for boaters, contractors, farmers and citizens at large who universally rely on your work product.
This very day, your marine forecast segmented "Cape Sable to Boca Grande." By delineating the varying conditions over the broad sweep of "Cape Cable to Tarpon Springs," you are providing data which is more useful as it is more accurate.... Your response to public service is vital. Thanks.
A side project has to do with NWR listeners. I sent out a cc:Mail message to each office to get some ideas concerning this topic. I would like to find out what each office is doing locally to increase NWR listeners. Ideas? Thoughts? I have some "wild" ideas of my own and plan to share these in the future (oh, the suspense). NWR promotion in the past has always had a "come to us" approach requiring the public to take some action to listen to us. This type of promotion should continue, but a new type of promotion would involve a "go to them" approach. If NWR broadcasts are brought to the people and used in their everyday lives, they will be more likely to buy a weather radio. We could actually be our own advertiser...hmm....
Thanks go to Stephen Cooper and Suzanne Nichols (STAR coordinators at SRH) plus all the folks at NWSFO New Orleans for this opportunity. When Max White found out there was another weather radio "nut" in the world, I heard he actually did an NWR dance--maybe that was just a rumor! Stay tuned for more NWR ideas, thoughts, and revelations.
HOUSTON BOAT SHOW. This year's Houston Summer Boat Show was held July 9-14. Approximately 58,000 marine enthusiasts attended the show. NWSO Houston operated a booth at the show, distributed more than 2000 brochures, and answered numerous questions related to hurricanes, past weather events in Southeast Texas and the Gulf of Mexico, NWS products and services, and the current modernization effort. The most popular brochures included those on hurricanes, safe boating tips, marine services, and, of course, tide tables.
The NWS participation was coordinated by Robert Van Hoven, NWSO Houston's Marine Focal Point. The support from the NWSO staff was outstanding, with several employees putting in long hours and working on their days off. Of particular note in this year's event was the large number of students who attended. This provided the NWSO with the opportunity to promote meteorology and hydrology as career choices among these students.
NEW AVIATION SERVICE IN CORPUS CHRISTI. The date of transfer of TAF service responsibility to NWSO Corpus Christi has been established. Effective at 1200 UTC on Thursday, September 5, 1996, the NWSO will assume responsibility for the preparation and issuance of TAFs for the following airports: Alice International (ALI), Corpus Christi International (CRP), Laredo International (LRD), and Victoria Regional (VCT).
Congratulations to MIC Joe Arellano and his staff for completing the necessary training and preparation in support of this transfer effort.
TAFCHECK 1.02. As many offices are aware, Tom Hicks (MIC, CWSU Fort Worth) has developed an outstanding TAF quality control program for field office use. The program, TAFCheck version 1.02, and its documentation are available for office download through the CWSU's 24-hour bulletin board at (817) 858-7366.
We encourage all field offices to give this program a try. We understand that daily there are numerous NWS-generated TAFs not being successfully delivered to the FAA communications system because of formatting errors. TAFCheck will flag most of these errors.
AVIATION WEATHER PRESENTATION. Scott Wiley (meteorologist intern, NWSFO Fort Worth) has been, for the past few months, on special assignment at the SRH to spearhead the design of a multimedia presentation on aviation weather. The goal is to develop a presentation that can be used by our field offices in their aviation outreach efforts. A side benefit is that the presentation, once completed, will serve to educate our forecasters on customer impacts of our aviation products and services.
Development is slow and quite involved but is proceeding at a steady pace. We are hoping to have a version ready for field review in the next few months.
BASIC SPOTTER GUIDE TAKING SHAPE. Organization of a basic storm spotter's guide, to accompany the recently-released slide set, is moving forward again. Newton Skiles (NWSFO Little Rock) and Gary Woodall (SRH WCM) prepared the original drafts of the guide. WSH has identified funds for printing a color version of the guide during fiscal year 1997. We hope to have a final version of the guide ready for printing by the end of the summer.
REGIONAL WCM CONFERENCE PLANNED. Plans for the biannual Southern Region Warning Coordination Meteorologist conference are under way. The conference is tentatively scheduled for October 28-November 1 at SRH. A preliminary agenda for the conference has been sketched out, which should serve as a complement to the national WCM meeting in 1995. As in earlier years, the regional conference will place an emphasis on the operational duties and responsibilities faced by the WCMs.
NAILING IT DOWN. Al Dreumont (MIC, NWSFO Austin/San Antonio) joined Paul Trotter and Dave Reed from the New Orleans/Baton Rouge NWSFO/RFC at a disaster-related consumer protection alliance called "Operation Nail Down." The alliance was established to fight the high crime rates experienced following a natural disaster. The Attorneys General of the Gulf Coast states gave high visibility to the NWS during the proceedings, and Al noted that the NWS role in the alliance will be to continue providing weather services to the public, media, and state emergency management agencies.
NUCLEAR EXERCISE. NWSFO Little Rock was recently invited to participate in a nuclear power plant exercise. The exercise was coordinated by the Arkansas State Office of Emergency Services (OES) and several other state and local agencies. The exercise involved a mock nuclear reactor shutdown at the Arkansas Nuclear One Power Plant at Russellville, during which the NWSFO was tasked with providing weather support to the OES. The exercise was declared a success by OES, and the NWSFO staff received some valuable practice in providing support for incidents such as this.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT WEATHER INFORMATION NETWORK (EMWIN) NEWS. Phil Weigant (RFC Tulsa) gave an EMWIN briefing to the New Mexico Emergency Planning and Coordination officials. Keith Hayes (NWSFO Albuquerque WCM) reported that the briefing went well and that the New Mexico staff will move quickly to establish EMWIN in at least the Albuquerque and Santa Fe areas. Since covering the more rural areas of the state will be difficult, Keith notes that both the satellite reception and the VHF rebroadcast of the EMWIN signal will be important in the state.
Bruce Burkman of NWSO Shreveport discussed EMWIN with officials of the Caddo/Bossier Parish Emergency Preparedness committee. Bruce described EMWIN and IWIN (Internet version), data sources, and methods of obtaining the data. The content of the EMWIN data stream was also reviewed. Bruce noted that the meeting went well and there seems to be some interest in EMWIN in the Shreveport area.
HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS. As we approach the height of hurricane season, coastal offices continue the preparedness efforts in their areas.
Steve Letro and Fred Johnson of NWSO Jacksonville participated in the Northeast Florida Hurricane Planning Workshop held in Jacksonville Beach. Approximately 35 people attended the workshop, which used the FEMA hurricane planning manual as the course text. The workshop included a discussion of tropical cyclone structure, the SLOSH model, effects of hurricane winds on inland areas, and TPC advisory products. During the workshop, Steve and the local emergency management officials discussed methods of incorporating evacuation and sheltering information into the Hurricane Local Statements produced by the NWSO.
Paul Trotter and Frank Revitte of NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge attended the Gulf Coast Hurricane Conference in Biloxi. The event is sponsored by a local television station in Biloxi. Frank gave a presentation on hurricane hazards and the analysis tools utilized by the NWSFO, including the SLOSH model, the inland wind model, and the WSR-88D. Other speakers included local media figures and local and state emergency management officials. The conference was attended by about 50 people representing federal, state, and local agencies involved in hurricane preparedness. Frank noted that excellent cooperation seems to exist between the various government agencies and the media along the Mississippi Gulf coast.
STUDENT OUTREACH. Several offices have had recent noteworthy successes in the area of education and outreach with students in their areas:
NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge staffed a display at the annual Kids Fair at the New Orleans Superdome. The Kids Fair brings together a wide variety of private industry and government agencies who set up educational displays directed at grade school-age children. The NWSFO booth consisted of the Skyline display, a TV/VCR playing a variety of severe weather and hurricane videos, several weather instruments, and a hands-on "tornado in a bottle" display. Approximately 7,000 children and adults visited the fair, and the NWSFO booth had a constant crowd of 10-15 throughout the event.
Jim Boone (HMT, NWSO Jacksonville) has worked closely with the St. Mary's Middle and High Schools in Jacksonville. St. Mary's has purchased weather equipment for their students, and Jim has assisted the students and teachers in utilizing the instruments. Jim has provided guidance in analyzing satellite pictures and weather observations and has given several weather-related presentations to the classes.
DROUGHT UPDATE. From Bob Corby (DOH, WGRFC Fort Worth) comes the following information regarding lake levels in Texas. In the Brazos River Basin, Lakes Georgetown and Aquilla set record low levels of 772.24 feet and 534.40 feet NGVD (National Geodetic Vertical Datum). Lake Whitney, at 523.43 feet, has also become a concern. The Brazos River Authority has recently set releases at 540 cfs average per 24 hours from the lake. This small release will need to satisfy hydropower and water supply needs while minimizing drawdown of the lake level.
In the Trinity River Basin, Lake Lewisville set a record low of 512.25 feet NGVD (lowest since the normal pool raise to 522.0 feet NGVD). Lake Lavon also set a record low when its level dropped to 482.16 on July 22,1996.
More rains brought improved conditions to New Mexico where the eastern Plains are back to near normal moisture conditions. Unusually, Central New Mexico has actually turned to very moist. However, the northwestern section of the state remains in extreme drought. Texas remains mostly in severe to extreme drought, as does northern Oklahoma. Elsewhere, moderate drought prevails over much of Arkansas, northern Alabama and Georgia.
NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
Development of Hydrologic Program Brochure. Dave Morris (HIC, WGRFC Fort Worth) is working with the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) and Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA) on a brochure that, among other things, will explain the cooperative roles played by the NWS and those river authorities. The brochure should be published prior to the end of the year.
LMRFC/Corps of Engineers Coordination Meeting. Dave Reed (HIC) and Bob Stucky (DOH) from LMRFC Slidell met with officials from the Lower Mississippi Valley Division (LMVD) and Vicksburg District (VKD) of the Corps of Engineers July 22-23. Also participating in the meetings were Donnell Woods (NWS Liaison in LMVD) and Tom Thompson (Service Hydrologist at NWSFO Jackson). The meeting was to discuss requirements from the Corps of Engineers for possible additional forecast points and the sharing and transfer of data between the agencies. Dave Reed reports the meeting was very beneficial to both the COE and the NWS, and he plans to hold such a meeting annually.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Arkansas ALERT. Steve Bays (Service Hydrologist, NWSFO Little Rock) contacted the Buffalo National River Headquarters in Harrison, Arkansas, where he spoke with the Service Hydrologist of the National Park Service who provided Steve with the phone number and access instructions for the interrogation of their ALERT system.
Steve is also working on backing up all HADS available data by gaining limited access to several Corps of Engineers computer data bases. Steve hopes that soon he will have the entire Little Rock HSA covered with a redundant DCP data source, should HADS fail.
Emergency Planned for Oklahoma. Eldon Beard (Service Hydrologist, NWSFO Norman) participated in an orientation meeting for an emergency exercise to be conducted for Foss Dam on the Washita River. The meeting was also attended by personnel from the Corps of Engineers in Tulsa, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife, and City/County emergency management officials for Clinton/Custer Counties. These agencies plan to simulate a PMF-like (probable maximum flood) event on the Washita River between Foss Dam and Lake Texhoma early this fall. This emergency exercise will also involve the ABRFC, state emergency management officials, and city and county law enforcement and emergency management agencies.
Users Conference in Florida. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) will be meeting with members of the NWSFO Miami and NWSOs Tampa Bay and Melbourne to discuss changes in the NWS hydrology program. The changes likely to be discussed are those involving the Florida NWS offices' participation in producing QPF. The SFWMD has shown a strong desire to use the QPF issued by these offices and will likely give the offices feedback on how basins and products could be disseminated for maximum benefit.
Benefits in Birmingham. Roger McNeil (Service Hydrologist, NWSFO Birmingham) recently reported on some very positive feedback he has received from the staff. The favorable reaction is a result of his updating the office's hydrologic manuals. Roger and hydrologic focal point Tom Bradshaw have restructured the operational manuals into binders containing detailed information by river basin. The information is stored in a form that is much easier to use and access by the forecasters, because one binder contains all the information a forecaster needs to know concerning any river basin in his/her HSA. The information available includes users, cooperative observers in the basin, basin maps, E-19s, local forecast schemes, local warning procedures, and forecast points.
PAPERS PUBLISHED. Congratulations to Rusty Pfost (SOO, NWSFO Jackson) on his paper titled, "Disastrous Mississippi Ice Storm of 1994," which was published in the latest (March 1996) issue of the NWA's National Weather Digest. The same issue also contains the paper, "Space Shuttle Discovery Launch Plume As Seen from GOES-8 IR," by Tim Garner, Dan Bellue, and Frank Brody (NWS/NASA Spaceflight Meteorology Group, Houston).
The latest (July) issue of the AMS Bulletin contains the paper, "A Climatology, Synoptic-Assessment, and Thermodynamic Evaluation for Cloud-to-Ground Lightning in Georgia: A Study for the 1996 Summer Olympics," by E. S. Livingston, J. W. Nielsen-Gammon, and R. E. Orville at Texas A&M. This study is an effort from the Cooperative Institute for Applied Meteorological Studies (CIAMS) and has been very helpful to forecasters who are working the Olympics. In the same issue of BAMS, check out the letter to the editor from Al Murphy regarding use (and misuse) of PoPs.
NWA AWARDS. Several nominations were submitted last week for awards presented by the National Weather Association. We appreciate the time and effort taken by office managers to document outstanding service and accomplishments on the part of their staff members.
NEW ORLEANS WORKSHOPS. In the last Topics we noted a recent Advanced Heavy Precipitation and QPF Workshop at NWSFO and RFC New Orleans. That was the second workshop in as many weeks at New Orleans. On July 1 the subject was tropical meteorology, and participants included staff from NWSO Mobile and the LMRFC. Frank Revitte (WCM) began the workshop with a demonstration of the HURRICANE INLAND WINDS program and a review of hurricane-related issues such as emergency staffing, inland high wind watches/ warnings, flash flood watches/warnings, and local action statements.
Dr. Jiann-Gwo-Jiing (SOO at the Tropical Predication Center/NHC) also participated and discussed tropical synoptic systems, tropical cyclone intensity, and track forecasting techniques. Jeff Medlin (NWSO Mobile SOO) presented radar sampling issues associated with tropical cyclone-induced mesocyclones, including a case study of the evolution of outer spiral rainband mesocyclones which spawned tornadoes associated with Hurricane Opal. Mike Koziara (New Orleans SOO) discussed the climatology and environmental conditions associated with tornadoes produced by tropical cyclones, and forecaster John Guiney discussed tropical cyclone climatology for Louisiana and Mississippi.
HIWG UPDATE. The NWS Hydrometeorological Information Working Group met recently, and Rusty Pfost (SOO, NWSFO Jackson), the Southern Region HIWG representative, provided a preliminary report from his meeting notes. We've included Rusty's notes as a technical attachment this week.
METAR IMPLEMENTATION. Each office by now should have completed the conversion to METAR. As we settle into the METAR/TAF era, there are still a few lingering problems in the wake of the changeover. Below is the status of the ongoing developments.
1. New MONITR and TAFDEC AFOS programs for aviation monitoring have been released for testing (at Birmingham in our region). These versions of the programs fix some, but not all of the problems reported so far. The problems that have been fixed are:
(1) Proper recognition and processing of NIL TAFs.
(2) Proper recognition of TS, FZDZ FZRA and PE.
(3) No more amendment conditions set for TS when it does not exist.
Other problems that still exist in this test version include improper recognition of the ceiling when the phrase FEW is used in the TAF, and the improper handling of mixed whole number and fractional visibilities.
A field-wide release that fixes most, if not all, of these problems is anticipated in about mid-August.
2. The National Weather Service is in the process of implementing policies and procedures to improve the quality of ASOS observations. As the first step in this effort, the Techniques Development Laboratory has released the first of four computer programs to accomplish the ASOS quality control requirements. This program, CHKSFCOBS, provides WFOs with notification of missing aeronautically required data in the body of the METAR observation. The program should now be installed and in use at Southern region offices. The program, documentation, and a related policy memorandum have been sent to all offices. Any questions should be addressed to Gordon Hammons.
Plans are for later versions of this program, in conjunction with the other programs in this set, to provide the FAA with automatic requests to generate NOTAMS, compare adjacent sites for significant meteorological differences, provide complete checks on the format, and finally produce a daily summary of the output from these programs. Some of this functionality is planned for an AFOS platform, and will be migrated to AWIPS during the next two years; other functions may well be implemented only on the AWIPS platform, with no preliminary version on AFOS.
CHANGE IN X-118 STANDARDS. Several months ago we included as a technical attachment the new meteorologist educational requirements (X-118 standards) that will become effective next October 1. An alert reader noted a serious omission in that attachment, and a corrected version is included this week.
UNIX TRAINING. We issued a memorandum on June 4 soliciting nominees for UNIX training at the NWS Training Center. Any offices which have not yet responded are again reminded to submit names of individuals needing this training to Gordon Hammons in SSD. There are two courses available--"Introduction to UNIX" and "UNIX Systems Administration."
We will soon begin prioritizing the list and matching students with class dates. The classes begin in October, so we need to get the planning under way soon.
AWIPS TESTING. I (Gordon Hammons) had the opportunity of evaluating the latest version of the AWIPS software at NWSH in Silver Spring July 18-19. The software was the "Alpha 1" version of the Build 1 load which will be installed at NWSO Tulsa later this summer. Jamie Frederick (Tulsa AWIPS focal point) also participated in the testing. A total of 16 people from regional headquarters and field offices participated in these informal tests.
I want to stress that the AWIPS software version we evaluated is an early, limited version; but even so, the Alpha 1 version is very useful for viewing satellite or radar loops. (However, WSR-88D data are not yet being acquired at the NWSH test bed.) The loops were relatively easy to set up, and once displayed would be automatically updated so that a continuous x-hour loop would be available (x selected by user). There were a few problems such as cumbersome zoom and roam capabilities (no "slider bars" such as Windows users are familiar with).
The other selection in the product selector menu was NCEP model data display. In this area the software is very limited at this stage, but that is not too surprising for an alpha load. We found that for model display, the AWIPS Product Selector was much too cumbersome, as it stands now, to be useful for operations. The field reviewers summarized their conclusions in three primary areas of concern--performance, defaults, and stability.
1. Performance. We found that the retrieval of the model data was much too slow. Compounding the slow responses was the necessity to plod through far too many mouse clicks to display a single chart. Further, once the chart was displayed, every chart initially used a regional background, so even more mouse clicks were required to change to the appropriate background.
2. Defaults. The group felt the performance could be enhanced considerably by allowing site-specific defaults to be used for the products displayed. Examples of defaults needed are for map backgrounds, contour color and texture, and labels.
3. Stability. Finally, we determined that the system as it exists now was just not stable enough for operational use. This is due to the frequent crashes (core dumps) when using many of the features, and to the fact that the system slowed down considerably when many windows (processes) were invoked.
The field assessment group felt the Product Selector software needs much work before deployment. The contractor (PRC) is making extreme efforts to improve the software load; programmers are working long hours with no days off to address NWS concerns. The pace of development is rapid, and the Alpha 4 version of software was installed last week at the NWSH test bed and at the NWS Training Center (a significant step toward field implementation). Many of the problems we identified should be fixed in that version.
CISCO ROUTER TRAINING. Cisco Router Training was held in Addison, Texas, the week of July 8. Sixteen ESAs from Southern Region made up the bulk of the class. There was much material to cover (just the book of commands for the operating system is over two inches thick). The participants were instructed on how Cisco routers hook our networks up to the frame relay and through Southern Region Headquarters to the Internet. The TCP/IP protocol addressing and subnetting was also explained in great detail. The instructor was very knowledgeable, and the training facilities were good. Another class will be scheduled to train the remaining ESAs.
cc:MAIL MAIL*HUB. The project to replace the gateway computers at NWSH with a single directory system is under way. It will replace internal gateways such as BANGATE and SPOGATE with a post office called MAILHUB using the NOAA X.500 directory and external gateways such as SMTPGATE with a post office called EXTERNAL. An immediate benefit is that external users in the Internet world can send messages to us with a simpler address. For instance, the former address for me (Leon Minton) was email@example.com but is now firstname.lastname@example.org; and it works! To address a message to someone on Internet from cc:Mail, address the message to EXTERNAL instead of SMTPGATE from now on. A new query feature to locate addresses for cc:Mail, Banyan, Microsoft Mail, and SMTPGATE NOAA Employees is part of the project. More details about the project will be coming from NWSH.
CATAPULT PROXY SERVER. Leon Minton has downloaded Catapult Proxy Server from Microsoft over the Internet. It integrates with Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, which includes the Internet Information Server, to provide network security. When installed and configured, it will provide both CERN-style proxying and Remote WinSock. In a nutshell, it will protect the Southern Region network from users outside of the Southern Region and will arbitrate Internet access for the network by allowing or denying access according to various criteria.
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