Fort Worth, Texas

August 1, 1997



NWR DIGITAL CONSOLE/SAME MODIFICATIONS. Progress continues to make the NWR Digital consoles and SAMEs easier on the staff, media, and all users of EAS/SAME. For the past month, four modified consoles have been tested at NWSO Jacksonville, FL. During this time, in which nearly 100 warnings were issued, there were no "hangs or problems" with the system. There were no complaints from LP1 users. Based on this successful test, NWSH has agreed to fund for the modification of all the NWR Digital consoles. Additional information will be forthcoming. This process should begin in a few weeks and should take only a few months to complete. Appreciation is extended to NWSO Jacksonville for their willingness and assistance to test and report on the modified units.

New SAME EPROMS will soon be tested at four Southern Region offices (Fort Worth, Jacksonville, Little Rock, and Tampa). Features of EPROM version 6.0 include:

a. It will correctly generate the fourth "N" in the End-of-Message (EOM) byte.

b. It will store the NWR SAME origination time byte so the same time of day is sent with all three header messages.

c. It will ensure that the audio control relay remains closed during the three header and EOM messages.

d. It allows the ECR 200 to be field programmed with all existing field interim consoles.

e. It allows for two front panel key combinations that will generate a continuous NWR preamble string to aid in the total NWR SAME/telecommunications link/transmitter system alignment.

We trust the SAME EPROM tests will be successful, and we appreciate the help of the offices involved.

SAME RECEIVER PUBLICITY. As mentioned in the last issue, Tandy/Radio Shack is about ready to advertise and start selling their new NWR SAME receiver. In anticipation of NWR receivers becoming available, NWS Public Affairs has almost finalized information on "talking points and questions and answers" about NWR, SAME, and EAS. This information will be shared with all offices as soon as it becomes available.

SERVICE ENHANCEMENT PROJECT. The new deadline for the July 1996 through June 1997 Service Enhancement Project (SEP) submissions is September 15, 1997. In addition to this change of dates, two top awards will be bestowed this year. One will be for the best "handled" short term event and one for the long term event. For details concerning the SEP, please refer to the SRH homepage under "Special Projects."


HURRICANE DANNY. The first hurricane to impact Southern Region operations in 1997 made quite an impression. Danny, a minimal category one storm, made landfall in Mobile Bay, Alabama, bringing winds gusting to near 100 mph and torrents of rain (see cover). Operational support personnel were deployed from WGRFC and Southern Region HSD to the LMRFC in Slidell, Louisiana. After making landfall, the storm was quickly downgraded. However, Danny's remnants wreaked havoc in the form of floods and flash floods for several days across Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas prompting the SERFC to operate in 24-hour mode for nearly a week.

While Danny was approaching Mobile Bay, a slow-moving upper low was dropping abundant rains over Oklahoma. The ABRFC and WFOs Tulsa and Norman had their hands full as over one foot of rain fell on parts of the Sooner state.

PALMER DROUGHT INDEX UPDATE. As of late July, Palmer Drought Index values indicated near normal soil moisture conditions for much of the Southern Region area. Some moderate to severe drought was shown over parts of Georgia and southern Florida with moderate drought also in parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas. Recent rains from Hurricane Danny have left southern Louisiana and much of Alabama wetter than normal, with other moist pockets scattered about the Texas Panhandle, northwestern Oklahoma, Tennessee, and the south central mountains of New Mexico.

DROUGHT CONTINUES IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA. June 1997 will go down as the second driest in Tampa since record keeping began in 1890. The 1.46 inches of rain were 4.02 inches below normal. Only June 1918, with its 1.26 inches, was drier. NWSO Tampa service hydrologist Frank Alsheimer notes that long-term, below-average rainfall has caused the continuation of water restrictions over west central and southwest Florida.

RIO GRANDE MUD. In early June, heavy rains from slow moving thunderstorms produced flooding on the Rio Grande above Presidio. NWSO Midland hydrologic focal point T. J. Turnage reports that the sharp flood crest, estimated at 14.1 feet, damaged the river gauge at Candelaria and temporarily interrupted stage data records. A great deal of work was required to remove sand and repair road damage on highway 170 between Candelaria and Presidio.


Out of Office Experience. Lans Rothfusz (MIC), Charlene Johnson (hydrologic technician), Bart Haake (intern) and Al Hong (service hydrologist) from the NWSO Tulsa visited the Tulsa Corps of Engineers (COE) office in June. The purpose of the meeting was to familiarize the NWS staff with COE operations. The group then met with hydrology section forecaster John Daylor who demonstrated a precipitation processing program the COE runs to help them forecast inflow into reservoirs. The COE are using NWS-produced QPF in their models.

ALERT Update. Patrick Sneeringer, senior hydrologist WGRFC, visited NWSFO Jackson senior service hydrologist Tom Thompson to help update the Mississippi ALERT systems. They installed an ALERT decoder at Hattiesburg, then got the dedicated phone line to Hattiesburg up and running. ALERT data from Hattiesburg is now being received by the NWSFO Jackson. Plans for the near future are for ALERT data from the Laurel and Meridian systems to be received.

Hydroplot Update. NWSO Amarillo hydrologic focal point, Lance Goehring, reports that lead forecaster Scott Plischke has made some improvements to his hydroplot program. The program that Scott wrote for the office's operational PCS shows 6-hourly river gauge data at several sites. Recently, Scott placed the program on the office's SAC and refined it to accept Send On Receipt Request (SORR) data from AFOS. An alarm capability has also been added so that forecasters will be alerted when critical stages are reached. Further, the sites are placed on a PC-NOW (also Scott's program) map. These sites are color coded with green representing current data, yellow showing one foot below bankful, and red showing one foot below flood stage.

Lance, knowing that Scott is on a roll, has supplied him with E-19 data and river observer names and phone numbers. Ultimately, NWSO Amarillo personnel will be able to click on a site and receive the latest stage, precipitation, and E-19 data for the site, as well as pictures of the area and the names and numbers of any available observers.


Hydrologic Coordination Visit. On July 9-11, Dave Reed (HIC LMRFC) and Dave Smith (service hydrologist NWSFO New Orleans) visited the NWSO Lake Charles to discuss hydrologic issues in the Lake Charles HSA. Ray Sondag and Anthony Perkins of LCH treated Dave2 to a tour of river forecast points in the Lake Charles area. The trip was beneficial to both the LMRFC and LCH.

ABRFC MAP Explanation. Recently, the ABRFC placed an explanation of Mean Areal Precipitation titled Precipitation Measurements and Relationships to Hydrological Modeling on their homepage. To access this informative site use the following URL:


HURRICANE DANNY RAINFALL. The cover of this week's Topics speaks for itself. One reason why the WSR-88D provided excellent guidance on the incredible storm rainfall was the preparation made by NWSO Mobile for landfall. In conjunction with the OSF, a Tropical Cyclone Working Group has been studying algorithms and operational procedures to maximize radar applications specifically during tropical cyclone landfall. Dave Sharp (SOO, NWSO Melbourne) and Colin McAdie (TPC/NHC) have developed a checklist that was utilized by NWSO Mobile. In addition, prior to Danny's arrival, the Mobile radar underwent significant preparation and calibration. This was also the first tropical system to affect the Mobile area since the NWSO had in place well developed plans for implementing the "tropical" Z/R relationship.

NEW ADMINISTRATIVE SUPPORT ASSISTANT. Judy Magee has left the Southern Region Headquarters to accept a position with the FAA's regional headquarters across town. Judy was an important part of the SSD and HSD staff for the past two years, and we will miss her assistance. Just a few weeks ago, Marsha Spencer retired after 25 years of service to the NWS, serving the last ten as part of SSD. So, both of the SSD/HSD secretaries have departed, and they took a lot of experience with them. It will take us a little while to get back up to full speed.

Renee Mathis has assumed the assistant/secretarial duties for SSD and HSD, transferring down the hall from SOD. Please say hello to her the next time you contact us, and help welcome her to our divisions. We've already begun indoctrinating her to a world of new acronyms and programs!

SOO NEWS. NWSO Tulsa organized a workshop for non-NWS meteorologists in the Tulsa county warning area. The workshop was repeated on two days to accommodate the schedules of the TV meteorologists. More than 20 attendees from as far away as Fort Smith participated. Topics included tornado warning guidance (presented by Don Burgess, OSF/OTB), hail guidance, a review of helicity, the effect of mid-level flow on mesocyclogenesis, a detailed radar interpretation of the Fort Smith tornado, and discussion of Interactive Computer Worded Forecasts (all of the latter presented by NWFO staff). The workshop went so well that the attendees requested another one in the fall, focused on winter weather.

REMOTE SATELLITE TRAINING. In mid-July, forecasters from several Southern Region offices participated in a four-hour COMET Satellite Meteorology II course taught via teleconferencing at several naval air stations. At the NAS Mayport, Florida, session, NWSO Tallahassee was represented. Two staff members from NWSOs Corpus Christi, Brownsville, and Houston attended the session at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. The course, developed and taught by COMET with support from the Navy, included several case studies and covered interpretation of water vapor/IR imagery, satellite-derived winds, and use of the IR fog product. The teleconferencing technique allowed feedback among the sites and COMET. An earlier SATMET I course in June was also attended by several NWS forecasters, who provided feedback to COMET.

NEW TECHNICAL MEMORANDUM. Corey Mead (NWSFO Jackson), and Greg Murdoch and T. J. Turnage (NWSO Midland) authored A Severe Weather Climatology for the NWSO Midland, Texas, County Warning Area, which has been distributed as the latest Southern Region technical memorandum (NWS SR-191). This is the tenth tech memo in a series of local climatological studies examining the new county warning areas. Several others are in preparation. We appreciate the assistance the NSSFC/SPC has provided, along with the data on which these studies are based.

USING THE COMET MODULES. Joe Lamos, at COMET, recently provided the following suggestions concerning how to get the most out of the computer-based learning modules (CBLs) they produce. Feedback from users indicates that many still feel as if the CBLs contain too much information, especially considering the scarcity of significant sized blocks of training time.

The COMET modules are produced for an audience with a wide variety of education and experience, and not all of the material in each CBL may be appropriate for every forecaster. COMET tries to provide additional guidance through e:mails and their Web page that will help focus the training to the specific needs of each forecaster. Included are addresses and phone numbers of people who developed the training and who can answer questions or give additional suggestions on using the material. Most of the e:mails are addressed to the SOOs, and we encourage them to take advantage of this additional support provided by COMET to tailor the CBLs to individual training needs. Joe can be reached at lamos@comet.ucar.edu.

The CBLs generally address very complicated scientific concepts which require more than a few hours to cover in a coherent manner. The developers try to organize the material so that discrete pieces may be taken in small chunks of time. This results in what may seem to be a long module, but the design is flexible enough that the module need not be completed in one session. In fact, it can be regarded as a resource to be completed over some period of time, rather than something that must be digested quickly as a whole.

GOES SOUNDER MICROBURST GUIDANCE UPDATE. Here is an update on the GOES sounder microburst wind products we described in the last Topics. They are available on the NESDIS Web site at http://orbit-net.nesdis.noaa.gov:80/ora /fpdt1 /mb.html. The reliability of the sounder WINDEX has improved and a new legend has been added to aid in interpretation. In response to user requests, two additional gust thresholds have been added: 70+ and 80+ kt. Product times have also been extended to 0400 UTC for GOES-8 and 0500 UTC for GOES-9. Scheduler improvements and system corrections have resulted in more timely products. Comments already provided by users (to the above Web site) are greatly appreciated, says Gary Ellrod (NESDIS).

COMAP. Four Southern Region SOOs and one staff member from the Spaceflight Meteorology Group in Houston are attending the COMET Mesoscale Analysis and Prediction course (COMAP) for the next two months in Boulder, Colorado. This will probably be the last such class for some time, since all of the NWS SOOs--save one or two at the last of the WFOs to be staffed--will have attended the intensive graduate-level course.

TECHNICAL ATTACHMENTS. John Cole and Steve Pfaff (NWSO Corpus Christi) completed a climatology of tropical cyclones that affected the Texas coast from 1900-1996. Their study indicates that the potential for more and stronger tropical storms actually increases along the Texas coast during and immediately following El Niños. This is contrary to other studies which show fewer and weaker Atlantic tropical storms in association with strong El Niños. Their study is included this week as a technical attachment.

Last week a series of changes were implemented to the post-processed output from the NCEP operational Early Eta (48km/38levs) and Meso Eta (29km/50lev) models. A brief summary of the changes is included as a technical attachment to this week's Topics.

In the last issue of Topics, we included a technical attachment that described a new distance-learning version of the OSF WSR-88D Operations Course. The OSF is also developing a distance-learning course for HMTs which will cover radar operations (primarily based on the UCP) which are responsibilities of those positions. That course has been "beta tested" at offices in the Western Region since last fall. An outline of the course is included as a technical attachment this week. Note that some changes may be expected as a result of evaluations of the beta test. The HMT WSR-88D course should be available by the end of this year. It will be based on the new audiographics teletraining equipment which will be delivered to all offices within the next few weeks. Jami Boettcher is the OSF/OTB contact for the new HMT WSR-88D course.

RUC II EVALUATION UPDATE. The effort to implement the RUC-II at NCEP has been making good progress, but due to problems with implementing new parallelization software and the swamped queues at NCEP, with which all developers must contend, there will be a delay in the start of the field test until September 23, 1997. The field test will last four to five weeks. Real-time grids will become available on the OSO server at least ten days before the start date. Discussions are ongoing and at full strength in determining the actual output files and directory location at OSO. Refer to the RUC field test home page for what should be very close to how the output files will appear (http://maps.fsl.noaa.gov/forum/eval).

BAROCHECK APPLICATIONS PROGRAM. Wade Earle (NWSO Midland) has developed a computer program which makes barometer check routines done by HMTs/interns, more timely and efficient than the traditional paper means. The program called BaroCheck provides an intuitive interface for entering the observed temperature, mercurial barometer, and altimeter setting for weekly barometer comparisons required at the NWS upper air stations across the country. It computes, records, and displays all required data according to MF 1-13. The self-extracting file barochek.exe is available on the SRH server in the /ext1/download directory, or choose Option 10 from the dial-up menu.

EXPERIMENTAL ENSEMBLE-BASED MOS FORECASTS. The Techniques development Laboratory (TDL) at NWS Headquarters now makes available a daily ensemble-based MOS forecast message to interested parties. Forecasts of the maximum and minimum temperatures and the 12-hr and 24-hr POPs are provided for 26 cities for projections out to 192 hours. The ensemble MOS forecasts are based on the 12 runs of the MRF model included in the 0000 UTC ensemble suite. For each element and projection, the message contains the operational forecast, and the mean, standard deviation and extremes of the 12 MOS forecasts. The experimental MOS message is available on the OSO server each day at about 1200 UTC. In the near future the message will also be included in the experimental products section of the TDL home page (URL:www.nws.noaa.gov/tdl).

USING THE WEB TO ADVANTAGE. Tallahassee MIC, Paul Duval, forwarded the following kudos he received from Mark Brannan, news director at radio station WPAX in Thomasville, Georgia, regarding services provided by the NWSO during the recent landfall of hurricane Danny.


I know you worked hard over the past weekend. Your whole crew did a good job. It was true this time as it always is, helping me with radio reports was smooth and professional. That is always appreciated, but this time, it seemed the information from the Web was especially helpful. Maybe it's because I'm getting better at getting it, but I wanted you and your webmaster to know tracking Danny on the web was very nice. Thanks.



LATEST MCAFEE VIRUS SOFTWARE. Protect computer systems with the very latest Virus Protection software from McAfee. Three files have been loaded onto the SRH FTP Server (part of the Web Server). The files are version 3.02 and protect the following computer systems:

v95i302l.zip - For Windows 95 Computers

vnti302l.zip - For Windows NT Workstations

nnti302l.zip - For Windows NT Servers

Note: the l above is little L (not 1)

Just use pkunzip.exe to unzip the file and run the setup.exe program to install or upgrade your existing programs.

CC:MAIL OVER INTERNET. Greg Jackson, SOO at San Angelo, TX, brought to our attention the fact that with the new NTROUTER program running at his office, he is now able to connect to his cc:Mail when he's on travel over the Internet with the TCP/IP protocol. He installed the Background V2.21 software (a free upgrade available from the SRH FTP Server or Lotus via the Internet). The other addition Greg made was to add the following line in the MOBILE.INI file which is located in the C:\CCMOBILE\CCDATAx directory:



So, if your post office is located at one of the 24 offices in Southern Region using the NTROUTER software on their Windows NT 4.0 Server, then you now have a way to access your cc:Mail messages over the Internet. This will eliminate a long distance phone call when you have access to a local Internet Service Provider.


MISSING DATA. The amount of missing Cooperative Program data for 1997 is on the increase. As shown on the graphic below, the Southern Region percentages have slowly risen each month. At the same time, the percentages for the national program have stayed reasonably stable--near 2%. For 1997 the numbers are: January, 0.8%; February, 0.9%; March, 1.0%; and April, 1.2%. The percentage for March represents the first time in 9 months that the Southern Region missing data rate has risen to 1%.

COOPERATIVE PROGRAM MANAGEMENT TRAINING. The National Weather Service Training Center (NWSTC) has scheduled five classes for FY 98. The classes are planned for December 9-18, January 27-February 5, March 10-19, May 5-14, and June 16-25. A very limited number of seats will be available. However, the exact number allotted to the Southern Region has not yet been determined. Please be certain that all nominations for the course are submitted to the RCPM (W/SR42x6) no later that COB September 12, 1997.

SURFACE INSPECTION REPORT. The annual Station Inspection Report required by ROML S-13-96, is due at SRH for all station inspections completed through June 30, 1997. This report is a summary of the inspection program covering the past 12 months. Reports have been received from all but four Southern Region offices. Preliminary indications are that the station inspection program is being managed very effectively by the DAPM/HMT teams.

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