UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
February 1, 1998
I will be participating in the Directors' Modernization Transition Meeting at NWS Headquarters the week of February 2. As usual, many critical items make for a full agenda, but our progress toward full modernization and restructuring is unmistakable.
As I write this and prepare to travel to Silver Spring, a major winter storm is forming in the Gulf of Mexico. The storm was clearly forecast by NCEP models last week. To prepare for its impact conference calls are underway among WFOs, RFCs, NCEP and - on local levels - among our offices in the Southeast and critical state and local officials. At the same time the latest Pacific storm is affecting California and threatens our western offices. I have no doubt excellent services will result.
CALL FOR UNIVERSITY ASSIGNMENT APPLICATIONS. The annual announcement (call) for applications for the University Assignment Program has beeen distributed to all offices. The announcement explains what is needed as part of the UAP application, including a description of specific courses planned, a record of past academic performance, and the supervisor's endorsement. The UAP will provide support for full- and part-time university assignments for the academic year (two semesters) starting next fall. The deadline for submitting applications to SRH is March 23. We will forward the applications to NWS headquarters for final decisions. Contact Scientific Services Division for more information.
WANTED - MSD PROGRAM LEADER. A vacancy announcement (98017.RQ) is open until February 11 for the Marine/Public Service Meteorologist position in the Meteorological Services Division at the Southern Region Headquarters. If you're interested in leading the Marine and Public Programs through Stage II of the modernization, this is the job for you.
HOUSTON BOAT SHOW. The 1998 Houston Boat Show was held at the Astro-Hall and Astro-Arena complex from January 9 through January 18. Approximately 274,000 people attended this big event. Many of the NWSO Houston/Galveston staff volunteered to be at the NWS booth during this event. Over 3000 weather awareness and safety brochures/pamphlets were handed out to boaters. Numerous positive comments were received from boaters indicating they were very appreciative of the inclusion of weather buoy data and marine weather information on the NOAA Weather Radio. This year's event was planned and coordinated by Robert Van Hoven.
NEW ARRIVALS. Michael Longnecker has been selected for the position of senior hydrologist at the SERFC in Peachtree City, Georgia.
As senior service hydrologist for both NWSFO Des Moines, IA and Lacrosse, WI, Mike was instrumental in the development of the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction System (AHPS) on the Des Moines River Basin. He also devised several key enhancements to the station hydrologic service program. He was a member of the Disaster Survey Team for Hurricane Hortense in Puerto Rico. Mike has prior RFC experience, having worked at the NCRFC where he performed river basin analysis and forecasting duties as well as modeling of new stream segments.
Prior to his tenure in hydrology, he spent time at both WSFOs and WSOs including, Cincinnati (Hydrology FP), Kansas City (Hydrology FP), Cleveland and International Falls. Mike brings almost 14 years of NWS experience to the office.
And in Oklahoma, MIC Dennis McCarthy recently selected Steve Kruckenberg to fill behind Eldon Beard as the NWSFO Norman senior service hydrologist. Steve is currently a HAS forecaster at the North Central RFC in Minneapolis where he has worked the past four years. Prior to his assignment at the NCRFC, Steve helped set up the hydrologic program at the spin-up NWSO in Goodland, Kansas. His weather service career began at the Missouri Basin RFC where he was an intern. The effective date for this appointment is March 1.
Congratulations to Mike and Steve and welcome to Southern Region!
INFORMIX TRAINING MATERIALS. Hydrologic applications within AWIPS will utilize an Informix relational database. The Office of Hydrology has authorized the Southern Region Hydrologic Services Division to purchase 2 copies of a CD-ROM containing a computer-based tutorial program on Informix. These CD-ROMs are currently being ordered. Once they are received, they will be available to field offices on loan from SRH/HSD.
LOW WATER CROSSINGS, REVISITED. During the past several years, the Office of Hydrology has been engaged in an aggressive campaign to raise public awareness to the hazards of low water crossings. Included in this campaign have been the release of an eight and a half minute video (including a 30 second public service announcement) and a brochure. The video, titled, The Hidden Danger, Low Water Crossings (herein referred to as the LWC video) was distributed to Southern Region field offices in 1996.
Recently, HSD sent out a follow up message inquiring as to past, present and/or future outreach activities involving the LWC video. If you know someone using this video to help educate people to the hazards of low water crossings, please let us know. Some ideas we have already received include NWSFO Tulsa's including the video on their home page where anyone with a RealPlayer viewer can watch the movie. If you do not have the viewer, Tulsa has a link to RealPlayer on their home page so you can download it. To view the movie and/or download a RealPlayer viewer, use the following URL: http://www.nwstulsa.noaa.gov/virtual_movies.html The San Angelo District office of the Texas Department of Transportation recently requested 500 copies of the brochure and a copy of the LWC video to use in this year's traffic safety training.
We have also heard from a number of service hydrologists and WCMs who routinely include flood and flash flood awareness in their spotter talks, and who occasionally include the LWC video as part of their presentations.
The Office of Hydrology (OH) has a home page featuring (among other things) ordering information for the LWC video and the brochure. To view this site, use the following URL:
We recently discovered a company that installs low water crossing alert signal systems. Headquartered in Arlington, Texas, A-Tek has most recently installed automated systems in Tallahassee and San Diego. More information about these systems will be forthcoming.
NEWS FROM OUR HSAs
WATER ISSUES IN THE LAND OF ENCHANTMENT. NWSFO Albuquerque senior service hydrologist Ed Polasko was an invited speaker at the January 13 Rio Grande Basin Winter Interagency Coordination held in El Paso, Texas. About 30 people attended representing federal, international, local and state agencies with water interests and operational responsibilities in the Upper Rio Grande Basin. The combination of well above average reservoir storage and the potential for an El Niño-driven abundant spring runoff in the basin required an examination of current snowpack and antecedent moisture conditions, along with a look into future precipitation prospects.
A locally generated report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) office in Albuquerque concluded that the current El Niño could easily lead to spring runoff in the Rio Grand Basin as high as 200 percent of average, based on examination of observed spring runoff conditions from four previous strong El Niño events. The USBR has determined that 150 percent of average spring runoff into Elephant Butte Reservoir near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, would fill the reservoir this spring. If this were to occur, Colorado would be exempt from their otherwise required water volume delivery to New Mexico via the Rio Grande. Other important water requirements, or waivers thereof, are tied to the filling of Elephant Butte Reservoir as spelled out in the international agreement of 1938 known as "The Rio Grande Compact."
Ed described the southern Colorado and northern New Mexico snowpack (near normal as of this writing) and the associated September through December, 1997, observed precipitation totals. Local NWSFO Albuquerque studies were also referenced describing solid correlations between past El Niño events and above average fall and, especially, spring precipitation. These studies, though, lacked a clear correlation of winter (December through February) precipitation. NCEP Climate Prediction Center (CPC) long range precipitation forecasts (based on a continuing El Niño through this spring) project a 40 to 60 percent probability of above average precipitation in the basin.
No conclusions as to the ultimate character of the 1998 spring runoff can be certain, but the potential for yet another wet El Niño spring does exist. Those water managers in attendance were given a snapshot of current conditions and an outlook for what is possible in the near future.
ACTION IN JACKSON. NWSFO Jackson senior service hydrologist Tom Thompson hosted Okatibbee Reservoir Project Manager, Jack Huntly, at the WFO on January 10th. Mr. Huntly was given a tour of the facility and was briefed on hydrologic and meteorological operations.
Tom also mailed information packets to several agencies in northeastern Louisiana regarding the creation of river forecast points on the Boeuf River at Fort Necessity and Alto, the Tensas River at Newlight, Tendal and Clayton and on the Bayou Macon at Como.
RADAR TRAINING FOR HMTS. The OSF Operations Training Branch plans to begin a distance-learning radar course for all HMTs in March. The course will focus on radar fundamentals and operations associated with the Unit Control Position. The latest outline for the course was recently provided to all offices via e:mail. It will include six teletraining sessions of 2-3 hours each (14 hours total), plus CD-ROM, Web-based and paper training materials. The total time to complete the course, including exams and PUP/UCP proficiency checks, is expected to be around 50 hours. Note that this is comparable to the time spent in training at a typical NWSTC course, but it has the obvious advantage that the student is not required to travel. It is important, however, that dedicated training time be made available on-site to allow completion of the course materials.
CITM VISITS. Prof. Jon Ahlquist from Florida State's Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology recently visited NWSO Jacksonville to discuss ensemble forecasting from the forecaster's perspective. A similar visit to nearby NWSO Tallahassee is planned for this week. Look for Jon's paper titled An Ensemble Forecasting Primer in the December 1997 issue of Weather and Forecasting. We hope to work with him to develop that into a teletraining presentation so that all offices can benefit from seminars such as Jon presented at the two Florida offices.
DACFO UPDATE. Greg Patrick (NWSO Tulsa) is the Southern Region representative on the Directors Advisory Committee on Forecast Operations (DACFO). He provided the following summary of his recent DACFO activities.
I received over 20 items from field personnel across the region as submissions to the 1998 DACFO. Some of the items were regional issues, and some had appeared in recent DACFO reports. Eleven SR items were scheduled to be in the preliminary national report, and the National DACFO Chair, Nezette Rydell (NWSFO Austin/San Antonio), will circulate a draft report to the DACFO committee in February. Items will be prioritized and sent to the appropriate NWSH/NCEP program leader in March, and the national DACFO meeting is scheduled in April. I want to thank all of the local DACFO representatives from across the SR for a successful campaign!
COMET OUTREACH PROGRAM FUNDING. The COMET Outreach Program has received funding for Partners Projects for FY1998. Proposals for these projects are sent directly to COMET, and may be submitted at any time, but they must be endorsed by the regional director prior to submission. Partners proposals are short and deal with relatively small scale local research projects, collaborative investigations of significant events, and so on. They usually are funded at $5,000 or less for work that can be done in one year. As the name implies, these projects usually "partner" an NWS office with a university professor or student. Unlike the more extensive (and expensive) Cooperative Projects, Partners Projects may be approved quickly.
For more information about the Outreach Program in general, including proposal instructions, please see COMET's web site at: http://www.comet.ucar.edu/outreach/ or call Vickie Johnson at (303) 497-8361.
NEW TECH MEMO. NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS SR-194, FuzzyMOS: A Fuzzy Logic System for Objective Aviation Forecasting, by Tom Hicks (MIC, CWSU Fort Worth) has been distributed to all offices. While MOS provides an excellent objective forecast tool, it is still limited in assisting the aviation forecaster with specific ceiling and visibility parameters. Tom's fuzzyMOS approach uses issue hour, forecast period, initial conditions, MOS and verified MOS data as input to provide a categorical forecast output that is essentially a type of conditional and calibrated MOS forecast. Tests show fuzzyMOS not only improved over MOS, but improved to a substantially greater degree than the official forecasts. The tech memo also includes an introductory discussion of fuzzy logic.
COASTAL STUDY UNDERWAY. The following is from a recent NOAA report to the Secretary of Commerce:
During January and continuing through February, NOAA is conducting an intense program to better understand and anticipate effects of El Niño on coastal and inland weather, NOAA's Gulfstream IV aircraft will fly a total of 100 mission hours out of Hawaii and Alaska to study upstream formation of storm centers that will reach the U.S. mainland 4-5 days later. The P-3 aircraft is scheduled to fly an additional 180 hours from Monterey, California. Flight data are transmitted in real-time for research and to improve forecast products. NOAA is also mounting the most intensive research program in coastal meteorology in its history by deploying a chain of wind profilers, acoustic temperature sounders, and radars from Southern California to the Columbia River. Drifting buoys will be released along the U.S. Pacific coast to track currents, measure surface temperature and atmospheric pressure. This effort includes significant participation of the academic community.
NWSTC NEWS. Here are two news items of note from the NWS Training Center:
WEATHER AND FORECASTING. Here are a few papers in the latest (December 1997) issue of Weather and Forecasting which should be of particular interest:
Predicting Daily Maximum Temperatures Using Linear Regression and Eta Geopotential Thickness Forecasts, by Darrell Massie and Mark Rose (NWSO Nashville). The authors discuss the usefulness and limitations of a regression approach that proves useful for their area, in comparison to NGM MOS forecasts.
An Ensemble Forecasting Primer, by Joel Sivillo and Jon Ahlquist (FSU/CITM) and Zoltan Toth (NCEP/EMC). The use of ensembles allows one to estimate the best forecast, but can also address the probability of various events and estimation of confidence associated with forecasts. Prof. Ahlquist has already received kudos on this paper from a peer at the University of Arizona: "...it is an article that the vast majority of undergrad majors in a synoptic lab could read, understand, and thus benefit from! I can't say that about most journal articles on ensemble forecasting and predictability."
Heavy Rainfall: Contrasting Two Concurrent Great Plains Thunderstorms, by Bettina Baur-Messmer, et al. (Princeton University). This paper examines differences and similarities of the prestorm environment that led to different storm structures and rainfall accumulations. Analyses also illustrate storm-scale and mesoscale processes that play a major role in determining the accuracy of WSR-88D rainfall estimates.
Effects of Radar Sampling on Single-Doppler Velocity Signatures of Mesocyclones and Tornadoes, by Vincent Wood and Rodger Brown (NSSL). The authors show how chance positioning of the radar beam can change the magnitude and location of peak Doppler velocity values.
With this issue of WAF Chief Editor, Brad Colman (SOO, NWSFO Seattle), transfers his responsibilities to Gary Carter (Chief, SSD Eastern Region Headquarters). In an editorial, Brad notes that 20 percent of the journal's contributions are from forecasters, up considerably from just a few percent only a few years ago. Many articles also reflect collaboration among forecasters and university faculty, including the many papers in the Southern Region special issue last September, and the FSU/CITM ensemble forecasting paper noted above. We congratulate everyone who has contributed to this important "operational" journal, and we encourage more in the years ahead.
JAMES T. DOTY. James T. Doty passed away on January 13. He was a Met Tech with the Weather Bureau/NWS from 1946 until he retired in 1972 serving in Pampa, Big Springs and Abilene. His last assignment before he retired was as the Principal Assistant in Abilene. The 40,000 observations he took during his career remain a permanent part of the archives at the National Climatic Data Center.
cc:MAIL R6/DB8 REGIONAL MIGRATION SCHEDULE. The following schedule for migration from our old Release 5 cc:Mail software to the newer Release 6 client and DB8 post office database has been released by NWSH to the regions.
Phase 1: Router Upgrades 01/26 - 02/27
Phase 2: Client Upgrades 03/02 - 04/30
Phase 3: Post Office Conversions 05/01 - 06/30 Region Wide 07/01 - 07/20 Regional Hub
Actually Southern Region has been running the new Router software since the beta first became available about a year ago. That enabled us to communicate efficiently over the Frame Relay with most of our WFOs and the rest connecting over the Internet. To move things along we have already tested the latest Lotus Release 8.1 software which comes with the Release 6 client that can see the old DB6 and the new DB8 post office databases. We have several Release 6 clients installed and working at SRH, and will continue to migrate toward the NWSH-sanctioned goal of converting to the DB8 structure throughout Southern Region.
NT 4.0 DOMAIN CONTROLLER UPGRADE. After years of limping along with a Pentium 90 NT Domain Controller for the SRH Network, we are in the final stages of upgrading to a dual Pentium II system to handle the increased work load. It will provide needed CPU power and storage capacity to handle all the new programs being adopted including InForms Budget Tracking, cc:Mail upgrades, intranet configurations, FTP/WEB services, etc.
OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH
Les Hiesler, DAPM, Pat Capers, HMT, and Shirley Matejka, MIC, all at NWSO San Angelo, presented the Holm Award to Mr. Denis Decker of Menard, at the Menard Businessmen's luncheon on January 28. Only 25 Holm Awards are given nationwide each year to cooperative observers. Mr. Decker has been an observer at Menard, since August 1, 1957 and has consistently provided high quality, reliable reports to NWSO San Angelo. Mr. Decker is active in his community and was the recipient of the Menard Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year Award in 1996.
DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
Several offices have been quite busy the past several months in their community outreach activities. Below are a few that we have learned about.
NWSO MIDLAND. MIC Ray Fagen reports that on February 27 the Midland office will be participating with the American Red Cross, DARE (police drug awareness program), Midland Fire Department, and Camp Fire Boys/Girls in a weekend disaster training "lock-in" of local youth. These service agencies say this is the first such comprehensive community disaster program for youth in the nation.
They are also finalizing plans to give away over 100 Thunder Buckets for the fourth consecutive year. The local ABC-TV affiliate will be giving away the Thunder Buckets this spring, lining up local vendors to donate the buckets and supplies (food, water, weather radio, first aid kit, emergency blanket, etc.). ASA Karen Fago, along with a local American Red Cross staffer, will be visiting all the schools in Midland and Odessa in March/April to further promote the Thunder Bucket, NWR, and weather preparedness to area youth.
NWSO Midland is also working with two of the local TV affiliates and Radio Shack in an NWR promotion. The TV stations have tentatively agreed to give away store coupons for weather radios, while discussing the advantages of NWR.
The NWSO also has acquired Braille copies of several different weather preparedness pamphlets and have distributed them to the Texas Commission for the Blind and local emergency managers; they are working with the DO-IT Project, a University of Washington group that is encouraging disabled high school students to pursue studies and careers in math and science; and in early December, the NWSO started a student volunteer program for local high school juniors and seniors. The local high school counselor selected four promising students (two boys and two girls) who are highly interested in science to train at the NWS office. It is hoped these initial four will be the pioneers for future interested students.
NWSFO NORMAN. WCM Jim Purpura reports that from October through December 1997, NWSFO Norman gave 14 office tours for 406 people, which included various local schools and organizations, and visitors from the South African Weather Service and the Chinese Meteorological Services. He also gave a talk to the local NWA/AMS Chapter on the operations of the WFO.
NWSO TAMPA. MIC Ira Brenner received the following letter praising forecaster Andy Nash.
On December 13, 1997 my daughter and I went to your location for a tour that was conducted by Andy Nash. Prior to contacting Andy via his home page I tried the local TV stations to try and arrange a tour. I was met with a cold response to my request. After investigating the NWS pages on the Internet I located Andy. He responded to my e-mail in a very short period of time with information on how to contact your office to arrange a tour. Unfortunately I was out of the country so my secretary finished the arrangements.
My 11-year old daughter has wanted to be a meteorologist for the past couple of years. I thought this tour would put many things into perspective for her. She was expecting an office with suit and ties and a large office building. When she looked at the operations room her eyes were wide open with all the computer screens and other equipment. At this point Andy started the tour with a basic description for her and a higher level for me. He described all the equipment and their many functions. My daughter was impressed with the lightning strike locator and the radar. Luckily it was raining so she had a lot to see on the radar. With Andy's descriptions it was easy for her to understand.
I would like to thank Andy for his professionalism and knowledge. It looked like a busy day and he spent about 1½ hours with us. Now my daughter's interest in the weather has soared and we have spent many hours with books, her new weather radio and time on the Internet.
Congratulations Andy! Through your efforts, the NWS may have a future meteorologist in the making.
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