UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
February 1, 1999
The month of January, 1999 will go down as one of our more significant severe weather months in the Southern Region, and a record for the number of tornadoes in that month. Tornadoes first struck on January 1-2 across southeastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana. This first outbreak of the year served as a harbinger of what was to come later in the month. The later outbreaks in eastern Arkansas/western Tennessee on January 17, and the mid-South tornadoes of January 21-22, proved to be the most devastating and deadly.
The storms of January 17 caused the loss of eight lives in the vicinity of Jackson, Tennessee with many injuries which were evident across many other communities with major damage. Ten separate tornadoes were documented in Jackson County, Arkansas, alone. Our offices in Memphis and Little Rock issued warnings and statements which allowed people to take critical life-saving protective actions.
The January 21-22 outbreak included over 110 tornadoes which struck portions of Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi. A number of these tornadoes will likely be rated as "strong" (F2-F3 on the Fujita scale). Although ten people were killed, we have direct proof that dozens or even hundreds of lives were saved through the issuance of early warnings and rapid responses to those warnings.
These two significant events, along with other hazardous weather we've experienced thus far in 1999, have placed a huge burden on our offices. In just the first month of the new year, Little Rock, Memphis, and Jackson have already issued several hundred county warnings for their areas. These offices and the many others which were impacted provided their customers with crucial warning and forecast services. They have also had to face a formidable job in verifying and documenting each of the many storms and tornadoes. We detailed additional meteorologists to some of the offices to help out with that.
I extend heartfelt congratulations to all employees for a job well done during the tumultuous month of January. We can only hope that the coming months of this severe weather season will spare us such widespread devastation. Nevertheless, we proudly know that Southern Region employees will be ready to provide our fellow citizens the same life-saving warnings that were provided in the above events.
SERVICE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM. I am happy to announce the 1997-1998 SEP winners, all selected by an independent committee composed of Southern Region emergency management officials and television weathercasters.
Best Long-Term Forecast Event. The forecast team from NWSFO Albuquerque for the Support of the Beard Fire Event, Colfax County, New Mexico. Team members included Mike Ford, Neil Haley, Chuck Jones, and Chuck Maxwell.
Best Short-Term Forecast Event. The NWSO Melbourne team submission of The Central Florida Tornado Outbreak of 22-23, February, 1998. Team members included John Cannon, Tony Cristaldi, Bud Dietzmann, Bart Hagemeyer, Randy Lascody, Dave Sharp, Scott Spratt, Mike Turner and Bob Wimmer.
There was a tie for second place: the NWSO Tampa Bay submission of the Severe Weather Outbreak - October 27, 1997, and NWSFO Jackson submission of The Derecho Event of February 26, 1998, both received high marks from the review committee.
Congratulations to the offices and teams above. The Service Enhancement Program continues to highlight outstanding forecast and warning services and attracts favorable attention from our users. All of this year's submissions were excellent, and they are acknowledged in MSD's section of this Topics.
FIRST TECHNICAL NOTE. Bob Pifer (NWSFO Miami AWIPS focal point) has contributed the first AWIPS Technical Note from a Southern Region field site. The document details how to customize the AWIPS text browser, and it can be found on the Southern Region Web page at www.srh.noaa.gov, under AWIPS. Additional contributions such as this from other offices are encouraged.
CUSTOMIZATION WORKSHOPS. The latest in the series of three-day AWIPS Customization workshops is underway this week at Southern Region Headquarters. Focal points from NWSOs Lake Charles, Shreveport and El Paso, and NWSFO Albuquerque are participating. This brings to 17 the number of Southern Region offices which have sent participants to workshops. Attendees learn hands-on techniques for customizing AWIPS in order to ensure fullest use of the system soon after installation at the office.
SAN JUAN AWIPS INSTALLED. The AWIPS system at NWSFO San Juan was accepted by the AWIPS Program Office on February 4, following installation and check out by a dedicated team from the contractor (PRC), SRH and the NWSFO. Bruce Marshak (SOD), who headed the effort for the region, noted especially that appreciation is due the San Juan staff for the assistance they provided in getting the AWIPS communications circuits to the state they were in, in preparation for installation. We would not have had wide-area network (WAN) connectivity without their intervention.
SERVICE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM. We want to express appreciation to all the Southern Region offices which submitted events as part of this year's Service Enhancement Program. In addition to those selected for recognition by the independent committee (see the Acting Regional Director's section), the following are no less noteworthy. The committee had high praise and remarks for all submissions, and they were especially impressed at how much the staffs "go the extra mile."
NWSO Corpus Christi Event Synopsis for the October 9-13, 1997 Texas Coastal Bend Flood Event
NWSO Jacksonville The North Florida and South Georgia Flooding Event of Winter 1997-1998
NWSO Midland Development of Local Fire Weather Plan
NWSO Tallahassee The Flood of March 1998 in the Tallahassee Hydrological Service Area
NWSO Morristown Carter County Flash Flood - January 7, 1998
NWSO Tulsa The Fairfax, Oklahoma Flash Flood of July 1997
THE FUTURE OF WEATHER FORECASTING IS NOW. We have attached to this month's Topics a recent article written by Dr. Joe Schaefer, director of the NCEP/Storm Prediction Center in Norman, and printed originally in the NWA Newsletter (November 1998). Joe has articulated what we at the SRH have tried to express for years. We must be prepared to change the way we are doing business in order to meet the needs of our customers. If we don't, others will. Please take the time to review the attachment.
SMG SUPPORT FOR INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION "LAUNCH." Weather played a critical role in both launch and recovery of the Shuttle Endeavour last December. The mission was an historic one because it marked the beginning of construction for the International Space Station. Details are included as an attachment this month, provided by the Spaceflight Meteorology Group in Houston.
THE 1999 HOUSTON INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW. Volunteer staff from NWSO Houston/Galveston met many of the 300,000 people who attended the Houston International Boat Show in January. Mariners and would-be mariners stopped by the NWS booth to view educational weather videos or pick up a few of the 5000 brochures and pamphlets handed out. Over a dozen NWSO staff members fielded a number of questions about National Weather Service products and services. The event was coordinated by Robert Van Hoven, Gene Hafele, and several members of the NWSO Marine Team. Nice work all!
IN TOUCH WITH THE MARINE COMMUNITY. Several marine forecasters from NWSO Tampa Bay Area attended the Tampa Bay Harbor Safety Committee meeting at the Tampa Bay Port Authority. Forecaster Dan Sobien, gave a 20 minute presentation on upcoming changes to the marine program in Tampa. NWS forecasters stressed the importance of communication among boaters, shipping interests, and the Coast Guard, and how an exchange of marine weather information would greatly improve customer service. The Marine Safety Board recommended placing the Tampa Bay NWS office on their Technical/Safety Board for future weather data flow input.
AUTOMATIC IDENTIFICATION SYSTEM. All marine forecasters know the importance of obtaining marine observations for forecasting and verification. New equipment and high tech software are being tested which could improve receipt of marine data in the Gulf of Mexico. The Automatic Identification System (AIS) allows communication between ships and potentially with our coastal offices. Using GPS software, current ship locations can be tracked across the Gulf of Mexico. Coastal offices would be able to contact the ships via e-mail and obtain current wind, weather and sea state information. The AIS is currently being tested in Tampa Bay and New Orleans. Tampa Bay marine forecasters have met with the engineers responsible for AIS and plan to hold future meetings to become more involved. If successful, the test will be expanded to Houston and San Francisco.
DIGITIZED HAZARDOUS WEATHER SLIDES. The slide digitizing project conducted by Southern and Central Regions is nearly complete. Brian Peters (NWSFO Birmingham) has assembled the digitized slide sets, scripts, and an introductory presentation. We are currently awaiting delivery of the blank CDs after which Brian will duplicate and distribute the CDs to Southern Region offices. We hope this process will be completed by mid-February.
OFFICE KUDOS. Shirley Matejka and the NWSO San Angelo staff were visited by Charles Royall, president of the West Texas District of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL). The ARRL is the primary nationwide amateur radio organization and is a key player in disaster and hazardous weather communications. During his visit, Mr. Royall presented the NWSO with a Public Service Commendation for "Outstanding Public Service Communications in the Concho Valley." Congratulations to Shirley and her staff.
MEDIA OUTREACH. With the recent severe weather outbreaks and the approach of Severe Weather Awareness Weeks in the region, WCMs have been actively engaged with the media. A few highlights...
NWSO Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian was interviewed for an in-depth article in The Tennessee, a magazine prepared by the Middle Tennessee Electric Co-Op. The article will focus on the forecast process as a whole and the role of technology in the NWS Office. Jerry demonstrated a variety of tools, including surface and upper-air charts, WSR-88D data and products, and forecast model output. That same day, Jerry was interviewed by a reporter from the Gannett News Service about the recent Clarksville tornado and the unusually severe January weather in the mid-South.
NWSO Tampa Bay lead forecaster Frank Alsheimer provided two in-depth interviews with reporters from Clear Channel Communications regarding the recent mid-South severe weather outbreaks. The interviews were aired on four Tampa area radio stations, whose broadcast areas cover the entire NWSO Tampa Bay CWA. Frank promoted the use of NOAA Weather Radio and its alarm features during the interviews.
PUBLIC OUTREACH. As usual, the region's WCMs have continued their strong public outreach programs. Below are some notes.
NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas WCM Jim Stefkovich was prominent in Bell County. Jim helped develop severe weather plans for two local industries, employing a total of about 500 people. Jim followed this up with an in-depth basic/advanced spotter presentation in Belton, Texas. Over 400 people were in attendance, making the Belton session one of the best-attended spotter training classes in the state. To cap off the activities, Jim provided one TV and two newspaper interviews.
NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge MIC Paul Trotter gave a talk to the Society of American Engineers and the Louisiana Engineer Society. Over 120 people attended the presentation, including representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Topics of Paul's program included El Niño vs. La Niña and impacts for Louisiana, a review of 1998 weather statistics, and a look back at the 1998 hurricane season.
NEWS FROM THE CENTER WEATHER SERVICE UNITS. Following are recent noteworthy activities at Southern Region CWSUs:
CWSU Atlanta. Staff members completed a week-long, Center-wide briefing on winter weather. Three briefings per day were conducted on cold air damming, wedges, turbulence, and icing. A case study reviewed the impacts of a significant wedge which occurred in Atlanta airspace on November 12, 1997. More than 300 controllers attended the briefings, including Gene Wall, meteorologist with the Air Force Weather Agency at Ft. McPherson. Gene also toured the CWSU operations area. Howard Bookman, CWSU meteorologist, video taped the training for future use.
CWSU Fort Worth. During his visit to the Dallas-Fort Worth area as part of his attendance at the AMS Annual Meeting last month, NWS Director Jack Kelly toured the CWSU. MIC Tom Hicks and his staff were available to show Jack some of the development work in progress at the Fort Worth Unit and discuss coordination issues involving the CWSU and the nearby NWSFO (also visited by the director - along with the RFC).
Jack was briefed on how the CWSU enhances coordination with the NWSFO by transmitting a twice-daily coordination message to the NWSFO aviation forecaster which describes the expected impacts of the weather on flight operations. This message (transmitted as FTWWRKZFW) seems to be serving its purpose well. Recently, the NWSFO aviation forecaster has been appending a special "aviation discussion" section to the morning State Forecast Discussion as a means of briefing the CWSU meteorologist as he comes on shift. The preliminary feeling is that the two services, used in tandem, have been very effective.
CWSU Houston. On Saturday, January 23, the Greater Houston Association of Flight Instructors held their annual seminar at the Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). About 50 instructors attended the day-long seminar, with presentations given by both Houston Approach and Center personnel. The CWSU MIC, Vince Carreras, gave a presentation on "Weather and the Student Pilot." His talk included information on how to retrieve weather data from the Internet and the operations of the CWSU. After the seminar, the instructors spent 1-2 hours touring the Center's control room, which includes the CWSU.
Vince also is working with David Frame, an ARTCC traffic supervisor and Terry Scholze, a Continental Airlines dispatch instructor, on development of a two-hour weather program to be presented to all Continental dispatchers during the next year. The first presentation occurred on January 27, when a group of 15 Continental Airline dispatchers visited the ARTCC for an eight-hour training class. Subjects addressed included collaborative decision-making, simulated problem-solving, operations of the Traffic Management Unit (TMU), and meteorology. Vince's two-hour presentation covered CWSU operations, TMU/CWSU interaction, and aviation weather hazards training. Another hour was spent in the TMU/CWSU operations area where dispatchers were exposed to the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP) and the WSR-88D PUP.
CWSU Miami. CWSU Meteorologist James Stanley Holland, received his office's 1998 Director's Exemplary Teamwork Award. Acting Regional Director Bill Proenza recognized Stanley's outstanding service by noting:
Your unswerving willingness to support your co-workers at all times in the delivery of our mission to protect life and property is clearly deserving of this very special recognition. Your attitude exemplifies the finest the National Weather Service has to offer.
NASHVILLE AVIATION OUTREACH. Derrel Martin, MIC, and lead forecaster Mark Richards traveled to Murfreesboro Airport and spoke to 30 members of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA). Mark discussed WSR-88D products useful for aviation purposes. He also covered the Nashville tornado of April 16, 1998, using base reflectivity and storm relative motion products. Derrel reviewed the fine points of a good pilot weather briefing and spoke about NOAA Weather Radio and the SKYWARN spotter program. A lively question and answer session followed. EAA members came away with an increased appreciation for the job the NWS office does in Nashville, especially in terms of public and aviation forecasts and warnings. They were invited to tour the weather office at a future date.
FIRE WEATHER COURSE. The Fire Weather Forecasters Course will be held in Boise, March 29 to April 2, 1999. An extensive list of potential students has been submitted to NWSH. We're hoping the organizers of the course can accommodate everyone, especially considering the current fire weather spin-up activities which are in full swing across the Southern Region.
FIRE WEATHER TRANSFERS. We've entered the notification phase of the fire weather transfer process for NWS offices in Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Houston/Galveston, Austin/San Antonio, Melbourne and Miami. Everything appears to be on track for service transfer at those offices on March 15 at 1200 UTC. The local offices are notifying state, county, and municipal land management agencies, whereas SRH MSD is notifying the regional offices of the various federal land management agencies.
Practice forecast activities have also been progressing. In Florida especially, the staff at NWSO Tampa Bay has been quite busy quality-controlling practice issuances from Melbourne and Miami. The Houston/Galveston office, which will be assuming forecast responsibility for some land management areas now serviced by NWSFO Fort Worth, has been working closely with area customers to ensure the forecasts meet their needs. The word from the Texas Forest Service is they are excited about the expansion of fire weather service across the state.
INNOVATIVE USE OF NOAA WEATHER RADIO. The Amarillo office of the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) has been transmitting road closure and road condition information on 1610 AM radio for quite some time as a service to its customers. Recently, upon reaching a trial verbal agreement with the NWSFO Amarillo, TXDOT began relaying road closure information to the Amarillo staff who disseminate the information via a Public Information Statement and over NOAA Weather Radio. This allows the TXDOT folks to use their 1610 AM radio station solely as a retransmission of the Amarillo NWR.
The advantage for Amarillo is they receive first notification of any road closures (which tend to be weather-related and thus similar to spotter reports). As part of NWR broadcasts these reports lend credibility to any watches, warnings or advisories which may be in affect. Another bonus is that the 1610 AM radio broadcast sounds great and has a comparable range to that of the NWR.
JUNCTION NWR ON THE AIR. NOAA Weather Radio station WWG-93 is on the air in Junction, Texas. This system was purchased by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). At a frequency of 162.475 MHz and programmed by the NWSO in San Angelo, it will serve a part of the Texas Hill Country prone to severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and devastating flash floods. This marks the fifth NWR transmitter system the LCRA has purchased for the NWS. A sixth system is being installed at Richland Springs, Texas, where test broadcasts will begin within a few weeks.
NEW COOPERATOR NWR. On January 13, the NWS entered into a cooperative agreement with Dyer County, Tennessee. The cooperator will purchase an NWR system then donate it to the NWS. The transmitter will be installed just northwest of Dyersburg, Tennessee, broadcast at 1000 watts, and provide service to a part of northwest Tennessee which has seen a number of damaging tornadoes over the past several years. The Memphis NWSFO will provide the programming to the new station, which is projected to be on the air by late this spring.
WATER SUPPLY FORECAST FOR NEW MEXICO. Ed Polasko, NWSFO Albuquerque service hydrologist, reports that as of January 1999, the water supply forecast for New Mexico is far below to well below average runoff. Flows of 55 to 70 percent of normal are forecast for the mainstem Rio Grande and Rio Chama rivers in southwest New Mexico, and the upper Pecos River. Forecast flows range from 70 to 90 percent of normal in streams originating in the Sangre de Cristos Mountains. Flow in the Animas and San Juan basins is expected to be 75 to 85 percent of normal.
Precipitation during December 1998 was well below normal across much of New Mexico. October through December totals ranged from near normal in southwest New Mexico to well above normal elsewhere. Surveys by the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service indicate that snowpack water content in the Rio Grande Basin is 84 percent of normal and 104 percent of normal in the San Juan Basin. Most of the snow survey sites are at elevations above 8000 feet. There is little or no snow cover at lower elevations due to recent warm, dry conditions. Reservoir storages in the Rio Grande and San Juan basins of New Mexico are well above average.
LOW WATER CROSSING MEETING. Ben Weiger, deputy chief of HSD, in collaboration with Gary Woodall, regional WCM and Larry Eblen, WCM NWSFO Austin/San Antonio, will meet with various state and federal agencies in Texas to discuss ways to enhance education outreach activities in the state associated with the dangers of flooded low water crossings. Educational resource materials from the state and federal agencies will be provided to the Texas Education Agency to assist them in effecting changes to the state driver's education curriculum.
SERFC QPF VERIFICATION STUDY. Jack Bushong, HAS forecaster at the Southeast RFC in Atlanta, will present a paper describing the results of a SERFC QPF verification study at the 1999 Georgia Water Resources Conference at the University of Georgia, March 30-31. The paper compares QPF skill levels at various magnitudes of observed mean areal precipitation (MAP), and compares errors of the QPF to a no-QPF forecast.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS:
Quiet December Around the Southern Region. Rainfall reports from the Southern Region HSAs were generally below normal during the month of December, but a few of our HSAs had to deal with heavy rain and flooding. For the most part though, flooding remained minor, with mainly lowland and agricultural areas affected.
The most notable crests during December were on the Calcasieu River in the Shreveport HSA and the Big Black River in the Jackson HSA. The Calcasieu crested almost five feet above flood stage at Glenmora, while the Big Black River at West crested seven feet above flood stage.
Record Snowfall Recorded at Midland. Midland, Texas, had a record-breaking snowstorm on December 11. As much as 12 inches of snow was recorded across the Permian Basin and mountainous areas of southwest Texas. The official snowfall total measured at the NWSO in Midland was 9.8 inches. This breaks several records including greatest 24 hour snowfall (6.8 inches), greatest single snow event (7.0 inches), and most snow for any one month (9.0 in January 1985).
New Forecast Points for NWSFO Memphis. Buzz Merchlewitz, Memphis service hydrologist, will soon have some extra hydrologic forecast duties. Four new river forecast points have been approved for the Memphis HSA, with forecasts expected from the Lower Mississippi RFC in Slidell in early February.
WEB SITE DISCLAIMER. NWS Headquarters has mandated that one of two specific disclaimer statements be used with all NWS Web sites. By now all Southern Region offices should have updated their disclaimer statements accordingly. Local Web sites must link to either to the operational http://www.nws.noaa.gov/disclaimer.html or the non-operational http://www.nws.noaa.gov/disclaimer1.html disclaimer URL. If your site is on the SRH Web server, we are using the non-operational URL.
WSR-88D LEVEL II DATA. Kudos to NWSFO Miami, which continues to lead all WSR-88D sites in the nation in the percentage of archived Level II data, based on statistics provided by NCDC. Between January 1 and October 31, 1998, 95.6 percent of the Miami data were archived. By comparison, the median for all 32 Southern Region sites was 71 percent. The number two site in the NWS recorded 86 percent. Unfortunately, at least a third of all sites are at about 50 percent or less.
Level II data from the WSR-88Ds are vital for researchers who are working with base data - reflectivity, velocity and spectrum width - as opposed to the products, such as rainfall, which the radar derives from those base data. University and other researchers are increasingly interested in using that new and valuable source of data. Results from such studies are an important means of improving the algorithms which produce the derived products, and that includes the work done at the OSF, NSSL, and NWS field offices. Unfortunately, the devices that are used to record Level II data tapes have been unreliable, and hard work and persistence at the radar sites have been needed to maintain them, and the archive. We will continue to work with the OSF and NWSH to try to resolve this problem.
UNIVERSITY ASSIGNMENT PROGRAM. The annual call for applications for the University Assignment Program has been mailed to all offices, and it can be obtained from the SSD site on the Southern Region home page www.srh.noaa.gov. Procedures are basically unchanged from prior years, and all details are contained in the announcement. The UAP will cover full- and part-time university studies for the academic year (two semesters) starting next August or September. Complete application packages must be submitted to SRH by March 29, 1999. Questions should be directed to Dan Smith, (817) 978-2671, in SSD.
DAILY WEATHER BRIEFINGS AT AMS ANNUAL MEETING. The lunch time briefings during the recent AMS Annual Meeting in Dallas were a success. Thanks to briefers Nezette Rydell (NWSFO Austin/San Antonio), Pablo Santos and Pat Welsh (NWSO Jacksonville), Irv Watson (NWSO Tallahassee), Richard Wynne (NWSO Amarillo), Dan Bellue and Mark Keehn (Spaceflight Meteorology Group). Thanks also to Professor Paul Croft (Jackson State University) and his students Robin Bridges, Ronnie Guyten, Latrice Maxie and Andrea Sealy for their assistance during the briefings. We hope these students might consider the NWS as their employer of choice. Coincidentally, Latrice Maxie began work as an NWR intern at NWSFO Austin/San Antonio the following week!
UNIX TRAINING. With support provided by the NWSH Office of Meteorology, SSD arranged for a one-week customized Unix Systems Administration class to be conducted by Hewlett-Packard (HP) in Irving, Texas (Dallas) at the end of January. Sixteen AWIPS focal points and SOOs participated (all SR ESAs have already completed similar training at the NWSTC). The purpose of the class was to augment slots available in the NWSTC course, in order to hasten completion of the training necessary to prepare AWIPS focal points, SOOs and ESAs to administer their AWIPS. The customized course was packed with 26 modules selected from two different courses taught by HP. By all accounts, it was intense but highly successful.
JACKSON SEMINARS. On February 2, NWSFO Jackson, in cooperation with Jackson State University, hosted a seminar on medium-range forecasting and QPF at JSU's library auditorium. Mike Schichtel from the NCEP Hydrometeorological Prediction Center presented the seminar, which was attended by 19 NWS meteorologists from the Jackson, New Orleans, Mobile, Memphis, and Shreveport offices. Eleven JSU students and three faculty members participated as their schedules permitted. Mike gave an excellent presentation, discussing the procedures and techniques HPC forecasters use in producing medium-range and QPF forecasts. In addition, Bill Parker (NWSO Shreveport) arrived a day early to present a talk at the NWSFO on his and Shreveport SOO Ken Falk's work on developing a rotational shear nomogram to assist in the issuance of tornado warnings. The talk was well attended by the NWSFO staff, and concepts discussed will be incorporated into Jackson's severe weather operations this season.
INVESTIGATING A POTENTIAL RECORD RAINFALL IN FLORIDA. During the early hours of last January 2, localized heavy rain associated with a stalled front caused considerable flooding of homes in the vicinity of Palm Beach. The event made national news, but of particular notice was a report of more than 31 inches of rain measured by a tipping bucket gauge owned by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) at a site in Palm Beach County. Jim Lushine, NWSFO Miami WCM, reported the following:
I talked at length with the two meteorologists at the SFWMD Headquarters. Both were skeptical about the measurement, but neither could explain any irregularities with the gauge, which has been a "reliable" one before and since. Nearly 22 inches were recorded in a 2 ½ hour period, with most 15 minute periods averaging 2.5 inches, and with only one period of light rainfall. Nearby canal stage level data indicated a rapid rise near the same time as the heavy rain. No bucket survey was done.
Miami MIC Rusty Pfost provided subsequent information about this potentially record-setting event, which is a technical attachment this month. A post-analysis using WATADS is on Miami's Web site at www-mfl.nhc.noaa.gov/Palm_Beach.html.
Late note: Side-by-side testing by the SFWMD of their tipping bucket against another gauge in a later rain event strongly suggests the gauge in question is defective - inflating the rainfall by as much as 50 percent.
NOTES FROM THE OSF. The following was extracted from the NEXRAD Operational Support Facility Weekly Report (January 12, 1999):
Improved Scan Strategies. Applications Branch personnel continue to participate in Volume Coverage Pattern (VCP) Working Group activities to develop improved operational WSR-88D scan strategies. At a recent meeting of the VCP Working Group, NSSL announced the development of logic that optimizes the selection of VCP elevation angles to minimize radar vertical sampling variability.
Algorithm Testing and Display System (WATADS). NSSL notified the OSF that delivery of WATADS version 10.1 will be delayed for about three weeks due to a minor bug fix. Following successful testing by the Applications Branch, v 10.1 should be made available to the field by February 1. WATADS contains offline versions of most WSR-88D algorithms. Version 10.1 includes prototype versions of the Snow Algorithm (being planned for an early ORPG [Open RPG] build) and the Area Mean Basin Estimation of Rainfall (AMBER) flash flood algorithm (planned for implementation in AWIPS), in addition to an updated version (WSR-88D Build 9) of the Precipitation Processing Subsystem (PPS).
DLOC/HMT 1999 Courses. Rosters for both courses were finalized and entered into the OTB database. Teletraining schedules for both courses were developed, checked, and posted on the OTB web site for office planning purposes. E-mail notification was sent to all training officers announcing these planning schedules. [Teletraining registration opened in mid-January and the initial set of training materials has been mailed to all students.]
NWP TRAINING. COMET will provide another in its series of SOO symposia in mid-May, on the subject of numerical models and NWP. Supporting the goals of those symposia for SOOs, COMET has also made materials available on-line for training use at local offices.
Three new training packages on Eta Model Characteristics, Biases and Usage, Precipitation Processes, and the RUC may be downloaded from http://www.comet.ucar.edu/nwplessons. Similar materials related to the AVN/MRF were released last October. Supporting case study material for the Eta model package is Case #013: February 23, 1998 (Southern California Floods and Florida Tornadoes), which is available via the CODIAC system http://www.comet.ucar.edu/resources/cases/index.htm.
These packages include a complete set of lesson materials with well defined goals, prerequisite knowledge requirements and objectives. A set of background information provides details about the topic to be reviewed by forecasters prior to use. The intent is to facilitate two-hour training sessions, led by the SOO or other instructor at the office. COMET has also included sources of additional information through links to other Web sites.
COMET would appreciate feedback on the utility of these materials for meeting local training needs. Please use the on-line survey that is provided with the package, or contact Greg Byrd at COMET email@example.com.
OUR NEWEST SOO. Rachel Gross, formerly a journeyman forecaster at NWSFO San Juan, has assumed the SOO - Science and Operations Officer - position at her office. She fills that position behind Shawn Bennett, who is now the SOO at NWSO Brownsville. Congratulations to Rachel and Shawn on their new positions. All Southern Region SOO positions are now filled.
AMS JOURNALS ON-LINE. All Southern Region WFOs, RFCs and CWSUs can now - or will soon be able to - access the on-line versions of the AMS journals Weather and Forecasting and Monthly Weather Review. These can be accessed through Allen Press http://ams.allenpress.com/) or the NOAA Library Web page, as long as an appropriate IP address has been established, or in the case of the CWSUs, user name and passwords have been obtained. Contact Henry (Hank) Robinson (W/OM21) for more information.
NWA COUNCIL MEMBERS. Gary Petti, MIC NWSFO Birmingham, has been elected 1998/1999 Treasurer for the National Weather Association. Jose Garcia, MIC NWSO Amarillo, will serve as an NWA Councilor through 1999.
FSU 50TH ANNIVERSARY. Planning is underway at Florida State University to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Department of Meteorology next November. For further information, contact the department.
CALL FOR PAPERS - WEATHER FORECAST CONFERENCE. The 17th AMS Weather Analysis and Forecast Conference is scheduled for Denver, September 13-17, 1999. The deadline for submission of abstracts is March 15. Recent issues of the AMS Bulletin contain more information in the "Call for Papers" section. Please note the conference theme this year deals with longer-range (72-hr plus) forecasting, as opposed to 0-2 day forecast topics. Significant discussions have been on-going with the AMS regarding that, and we are assured all submissions will be carefully considered. Even so, we advise authors to consider emphasizing in their abstracts the links between their studies and medium to long-range forecasts - or vice-versa.
PAPERS OF INTEREST. The December 1998 AMS Bulletin contains two papers of special relevance to forecasters:
Maturity of Operational Numerical Weather Prediction: Medium Range, by Eugenia Kalnay, et al. (NCEP). A very nice essay that clearly details the progress (improvement) in NWP over the past few decades. This is a paper which should be shared with users who may be interested in the science of NWP. It's technical, but easily understandable.
Resonant Interaction between an Atmospheric Gravity Wave and Shallow Water Wave along Florida's West Coast, by Charles Paxton and Daniel Sobien (NWSO Tampa Bay Area). A post-analysis of a very unusual wave which "struck" the west coast of Florida one Saturday morning in 1995.
SRH INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDER OUTAGE. An equipment failure at our Internet Service Provider's (ISP's) Dallas office on January 13-14, resulted in loss of Internet access for field offices via the regional Frame Relay network and access for the public to the SRH Web server. Connectivity to the OSO and RAMSDIS servers was not affected. With the Internet continuing to grow as an important source of information we're looking into obtaining a redundant ISP so access might not be lost during similar future events.
ACARS WEB PAGE CHANGES. On January 25, the FSL ACARS Web pages were updated and moved to a new, faster Web server (the URL remains the same). Recall that access to these pages is restricted to noaa.gov domains and authorized users with passwords. The move is expected to produce much faster Web page displays. The updated, Java-enhanced page has the following new properties.
- Flight tracks that are likely to produce good soundings are indicated by solid lines.
- Recent data points (those from the last 20 minutes) are plotted larger.
- Data from wind profilers may now be accessed via the soundings window.
NEW BUFKIT99 RELEASE. A new release of the BUFKIT software is now available at www.wbuf.noaa.gov/bufkit. The two most significant changes are:
1) Full implementation of the AES Canada precipitation type technique developed by Pierre Bourgouin. This technique is detailed in the NWSTC Training Module on Nowcasting Precipitation Type released to field offices last spring. BUFKIT99 adds the ability to assess precipitation type for cases where the temperature profile crosses the freezing level multiple times.
2) Implementation of David Blanchard's normalized CAPE to assess the strength of shallow convection. This technique is described in the September 1998 issue of Weather & Forecasting.
NCDC TELEPHONE NUMBER CHANGE. With the proliferation of pagers, cell phones, fax machines and modems everyone seems to be getting new area codes. That includes the National Climatic Data Center. Their new public telephone number is (828) 271-4800. Please provide this number whenever your office is contacted by requests for climatic data from the public. Field office requests for data and imagery in support of NWS-sponsored research should continue to be coordinated through SSD.
NWSTC HAS MOVED. On January 19, the National Weather Service Training Center moved to their new location. Please update your address book:
National Weather Service Training Center
7220 NW 101st Terrace
Kansas City, MO 64153-2371
The NWSTC's Web site has also been moved to a new Internet location. Reach it at http://www.nwstc.noaa.gov/.
COMET CASE STUDY. COMET has released Case Study 14: "Midwest Cold Season Synoptic Storm" that was developed by Lynn McMurdie of the University of Washington. This study was designed to provide an example of the classic structures in many synoptic systems, and is especially useful for teaching these concepts to beginning-level students. It includes GOES-8 and GOES-9 satellite imagery; NOWRAD composite radar imagery from WSI; surface and upper air observations; NCEP model output; and text products from the NWS Family Of Services. Additional data were added by COMET. For a detailed description of Case Study 14 as well as a lab exercise and other training support documentation, see: http://www.comet.ucar.edu/ resources/cases/c14_17oct96/. Case Study 14 data can be ordered through: http://www.joss.ucar.edu/cgi-bin/codiac/projs/COMET_CASE_014. For general information about the case study project, visit the Web page: http://www.joss.ucar.edu/cometCases/.
PLANNED NCEP OUTAGES FOR Y2K UPGRADES. NCEP plans to make the Cray C90 Operating System Y2K compliant during February 1999. The work will require a series of three hour outages, starting at 0930 UTC. At that time of the day they anticipate that the only forecast runs that will be lost are the 1000 UTC and 1100 UTC hourly RUC. A portion of the ensemble runs will be delayed until after the C90 is brought back on line, but those runs will be completed. The only other impact we anticipate is a possible delay of about 15 minutes in the 1200 UTC RUC, depending on how quickly the Cray staff can return the system after their testing.
The tentative dates for the three hour outages are February 9, February 11 and February 22. If the work isn't completed by COB on the 22nd, then they will continue on February 23 and 24. NCEP will publish these dates well in advance, and send out the appropriate messages on the day of each outage.
Y2K MEETING AT NWSH. Leon Minton attended a Y2K meeting at NWS Headquarters at the end of last month, along with representatives from the other regions and from OSO, OSD, OM, OH, and the National Data Buoy Center. Many issues were covered, ranging from general Y2K issues to specifics such as reporting requirements, contingency planning, and the NWS end-to-end testing. There is still much work to be done in the area of Y2K readiness, but NWS has taken a proactive approach and is in good shape. Many thanks to Barbara Beckworth of MB and Howard Diamond of OSO for the work they are doing for the Y2K effort.
MONTHLY REPORTS. Monthly reports must be submitted to SRH in a timely manner. These reports were previously done manually but an electronic format for the monthly report is now available for use as part of the DAPM resource page. The address for this site is http://srhawips.srh.noaa.gov/dapm/. Passwords are required to use this system and these have been distributed to the DAPMs. If you need assistance accessing this resource page contact the RCPM. Several other report formats and links to other interesting sites are also available from this Internet site.
CSSA TRAINING. Cooperative Stations Service Accountability (CSSA) training is being conducted at various NWS offices across the region. This workshop training is meant to help the DAPM/HMT team better use the CSSA software. The training will also help improve the quality of the station documentation associated with the volunteer observer network. The first workshop was conducted at Midland, Texas and was well received by that staff. Another workshop was conducted at the Jackson office, with participants from New Orleans and Memphis participating. Future workshops are being planned.
NOMINATIONS. Nominations for the John Campanious Holm and Thomas Jefferson Awards must be provided to the SRH by March 19. Nomination packages require a great deal of time and effort to complete properly, to assure the nominated volunteer has a good chance of being selected, so we recommend the process be started very soon.
OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH
DIGIQUARTZ CALIBRATIONS. Digiquartz calibrations are required each year. Most of the units in the field will need this calibration in the next few months. Please check the calibration tag on your unit(s) and begin planning for shipment to NWS Headquarters. Property tags will need to be on the units prior to shipping. Any questions should be directed to the Surface Observations Program Manager in SOD.
PROGRAM MANAGEMENT GUIDE. The NWSFO/NWSO Program Management Guide has been completed. This is a checklist used during biannual office visitations to assist with evaluation of all data acquisition programs. This guide was developed by a volunteer committee familiar with the data acquisition duties of the NWSFO/NWSO offices. The checklist was also available for review by all field offices and all comments were evaluated before the complete worksheet was accepted.
GROUNDHOG DAY SHADOWING. On February 2, Miss Miloe Peck, a sophomore at Parkview High School, took advantage of a career "shadowing" opportunity at NWSFO Little Rock. After hearing Gen. Colin Powell suggest on a network news show the concept of "Groundhog Day" as an official shadowing day, Miloe's mother contacted the NWSFO. Miloe has had an ongoing interest in weather for some time, according to her mother.
The two first "shadowed" SOO George Wilken, who provided some orientation on the NWS, including career opportunities, job requirements, and a review of schools in the area which offer studies in meteorology. George then took Miloe and her mother on a tour of the station, after which they sat in on a forecast discussion. Miloe then sat with FIC Greg Meffert as the afternoon forecast packaged was assembled. Both thanked Greg and George for the informative session and indicated they would pass along this opportunity for career shadowing to the officials at the high school.
Congratulations to both George and Greg for making the most of this novel new idea. No doubt this is exactly what Gen. Powell had in mind.
NWSFO ATLANTA hosted 120 students from Kedron Elementary School over a two-day period. MIC Carlos Garza says, judging from the applause he heard, the students really enjoyed their tour.
WCM Barry Gooden continues to "wow" students with his weather talks, as the letter below indicates. Keep up the good work Barry.
On behalf of students attending East Clayton Elementary, Forest Park Middle, and North Clayton Middle School, I wish to express sincere thanks for allowing Mr. Gooden to come and work with our children. He was absolutely wonderful! Having the opportunity to have their questions answered by a REAL meteorologist was a unique experience, especially in light of the fact that Hurricane Georges was gathering strength, then wreaking havoc at the exact time of Mr. Gooden's visits. He very patiently explained (in layman's) terminology they had encountered through studying weather and provided us with genuine computer printouts used in his work. We especially enjoyed plotting coordinates and speculating on the various storms' paths.
There were children in my classes who abhor science, yet they showed excitement during Mr. Gooden's presentation, and bombarded him with questions, all of which he handled splendidly. With science and math scores for American students hovering near the bottom when compared with other industrialized nations, solutions for this crisis must be found. I thank you and Mr. Gooden for providing one.
Neldera Weathersbee and Marva Jenkins
In a joint effort between the NWSFO and the collocated RFC at Peachtree City, MIC Carlos Garza and senior hydrologist Reggina Garza gave a presentation to nearly 150 students at Rising Starr Middle School. The discussion focused on the entire water cycle--how hydrology is important near volcanoes, in arid areas, and frequently flooded areas. Reggina used tropical storm Alberto as an example of how flooding affected the Atlanta area. The discussion then turned to how Carlos and Reggina became interested in their chosen fields, and how the students could pursue similar careers.
NWSO SHREVEPORT. Forecaster Bill Parker conducted an office tour for the Southwood High School meteorology class from Shreveport. Discussions included NWS operations, media coordination, modernization and NWS responsibility. Approximately 15 students were in attendance.
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