UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas

June 15, 1996

SOUTHERN TOPICS


REGIONAL DIRECTOR

NWSO TULSA VISITED.On Thursday, June 13, I visited with the staff of NWSO Tulsa. Of course, the subject on their mind was the April 21 Fort Smith tornado incident. I was able to give to the staff my feelings on levels of service provided by the Tulsa office and the feelings of the Fort Smith community. When the entire storm event is evaluated from initiation during the afternoon and following it through the evening hours, the NWS provided excellent services. Several problems were encountered as the event moved into the Fort Smith area, and we are working aggressively to assure these are solved. I hope the Tulsa staff felt the visit was helpful in assisting them cope with this emotional situation.

NEW FACILITY DEDICATED IN LAKE CHARLES, LOUISIANA. On Friday, June 14, I participated in the dedication of our new facility in Lake Charles. The event was managed in a most impressive fashion with most of the staff chipping in to support the ceremony. The dedication ceremony was very well attended and included the involvement of the district Congressman. My compliments to Dave McIntosh and the Lake Charles staff for arranging a very successful day.

TRANSITION MANAGEMENT UNIT

UPCOMING SOUTHERN REGION MAR EVENTS.

July 16 County Warning Area transfer from WSO Key West to NWSFO Miami

July 31 El Paso and San Angelo WSR-88D commissionings

PUBLIC COMMENTS TO FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE ON PROPOSED AUTOMATION CRITERIA. Forty-five public comments were received in response to the May 2 Federal Register notice on proposed automation certification criteria. Automation certifications are required by the Public Law at each of the spin-down WSOs where NWS personnel were involved with taking surface observations. The majority of the comments came from communities whose airports are classified at the "D" service level. These are non-towered airports where the ASOS observation is planned to constitute the entire observation and there will be no additional parameters augmented and no manual back-up. The comments from these communities basically said that the "D" service level was inadequate for their airports. Others expressed concern that the FAA has funds to provide only the required level of augmentation at some of the "A" and "B" level airports.

NWSFO JACKSON'S NWR. On the evening of Saturday, June 1, 1996, strong straight line winds, associated with a bow echo, tore into southwest Jackson. The winds estimated in excess of 100 mph blew down trees, overturned vehicles, unroofed houses, and toppled the 700-foot tower that was home to NWSFO Jackson's NOAA Weather Radio antenna. Even with all this destruction, there were no injuries or fatalities. All this occurred shortly after 8 p.m. CDT.

The damage to the tower was total; and needless to say, our radio was silenced. There was also a large concern from the public over the NWR outage. Radio and TV stations called MIC Tice Wagner at home Sunday morning offering tower space and whatever else it took to assist in repairing the NWR. As he and his staff were looking for a temporary broadcast location Monday morning, state officials called to offer assistance, including money, to get the weather radio station back on the air. In the meantime, Wagner learned that there was an abandoned FBI antenna located on an ETV tower in Jackson that could be used for our transmissions. So by Monday afternoon, NWSFO Jackson personnel were allowed into the destroyed tower site to remove their transmitters. With the diligent assistance of the Mississippi Educational Television engineers, they were able to relocate them to the new site. At 6:12 p.m. that Monday evening the voice of the NWS was back on the air and all is temporarily well with the Jackson weather broadcast.

There is a long list of people that went to extraordinary measures to bring this task to completion, but on top of that list must be the electronics staff at NWSFO Jackson, followed closely by the Mississippi Educational TV engineering staff. The media were extremely helpful during the situation and provided excellent support and coverage. The numerous interviews by the TV and radio stations resulted in nearly 30 minutes of actual air time during the local television newscasts. The newspaper also printed very informative stories. Max White and T.L. Farrow of the Southern Region staff also supported the effort.

METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES DIVISION

SPACEFLIGHT METEOROLOGY GROUP. Space Shuttle Endeavour lifted off May 19 at 1030 UTC. The spectacular sunrise launch marked the first time the new Johnson Space Center Mission Control Center was used during the launch phase of a shuttle flight. JSC's new Control Center had been used for on-orbit support since July 1995 and for landing support since March 1996.

Weather was not a concern prior to launch at the Cape, as high pressure at the surface and aloft dominated Florida. There was concern, however, overseas at the Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) Sites. A deep surface low off the Portuguese coast and trailing frontal system were forecast to be pushing through the northern three TAL sites just prior to launch time, with a threat of showers and low ceilings at all three sites. The front pushed through as forecast, with enough drying behind it to allow for the launch to occur as scheduled.

Endeavour returned on time to Kennedy Space Center May 29 at 1109 UTC, wrapping up a successful ten-day flight. The STS-77 crew performed a total of four rendezvous operations with two research satellites--the most rendezvous ever in a single space shuttle flight.

Weather for the landing of STS-77 was influenced to a large degree by a massive mesoscale convective system (MCS) that developed the day before landing over the southeast U.S. The MCS moved south through the entire state of Florida, dissipating over the Florida Keys early morning on landing day. Middle and high level debris clouds were all that remained behind the MCS over the Cape at landing time. These clouds limited radiational cooling and reduced the threat of fog and low cloud development. The mid-cloud ceiling did drop below the 10,000-foot flight rule threshold about one hour before the critical deorbit burn decision time. However, that cloud deck moved quickly southward and was not a factor in the final deorbit burn and landing decision.

The lead forecaster for STS-77 was Richard Lafosse. Assistant lead/TAL site forecaster was Wayne Baggett. The lead Techniques Development Unit meteorologist was Tim Oram.

TWISTER FALLOUT. Paul Hebert, MIC NWSFO Miami, recently received the following correspondence.

Dear Sir:

Last night, my 7 year old son saw the movie Twister. He has abandoned his dreams of being a train engineer and wants to be a meteorologist. Needless to say he was determined to make an even better tornado studying machine. He wanted to empty his bank account to get a tornado sniffing dog.

I told him that the U.S. Government funded scientific research, and suggested he write a grant. I thought you may enjoy his efforts, and I know that he would appreciate some kind of reply to his Grant Request.

Thank you for your time.

Attached to the letter was Chaille's grant proposal. It is reproduced here for the edification of all current and potential storm chasers.

Dear Sirs:

I want to make an experiment to study tornadoes from the inside. I will need a lot of money, so I am asking you for a Grant.

I will need these things:

	1 Helicopter                                    10 video cameras

5 gallons of gas for the helicopter 1 Doppler radar

5 pilots for the helicopter 1 truck

1 stewardess to serve cokes 1 camper

1 dog with a good sense of smell (not too big) lunch

1 crash helmet for the dog 2 computers (1 with pictures)

100 cameras 100 metal boxes for cameras (with a

100 empty cans of coke (cut into little wings hole so the camera can see outside)

with a hole in the middle) 100 parachutes for the cameras

100 empty coke cans cut into big wings

1 vacation for my family to Oklahoma and Kansas so we can find tornadoes

I think this will probably cost around $5,000, so send me this money as soon as you can, so I can find the dog with the good sense of smell to sniff the tornadoes. I promised an old lady that we would bring her a video of the inside of a tornado, so I really need to get started.

Thank you,

Chaille

You had better watch out, Al Moller!

P-3 TOUR. The annual NHC Hurricane Preparedness Tour was conducted the week of May 5-11. This year's tour featured stops at five Gulf Coast cities: Harlingen, Galveston, New Orleans, Mobile, and Fort Myers. During the morning and early afternoon of each stop, local school groups visited the NOAA P-3 research aircraft and participated in hurricane preparedness activities. Concurrently, representatives from NHC, SRH, and the local offices participated in coordination meetings and interviews with local officials and the media. During the mid- to late afternoon, the aircraft was opened for public tours, and each stop concluded with an evening "Town Meeting" hurricane preparedness session.

This year's tour could be viewed as a mixed success. The school tours were hugely successful, and a number of important media contacts were made. Although each of the Town Meetings were well orchestrated, the attendance at these meetings wasn't what we had hoped it would be.

Thanks to each of the host offices for your excellent work in coordinating these local activities!

HURRICANE COORDINATION. Many offices across the region have been heavily involved in coordination and planning activities with their local Emergency Management Agencies. A few of the highlights are listed below:

Dennis Decker (WCM, NWSO Melbourne) attended the Evacuation and Sheltering Plan Development meeting in Orlando. This meeting, conducted by the Florida Division of Emergency Management, was attended by county officials from the Florida peninsula. The purpose of the meeting was to look at evacuation problems on a statewide scale instead of on a county-by-county basis. During the meeting, the attendees split up into two workgroups (west and east coast) and gathered information on evacuation actions as a major hurricane moved up the peninsula from south to north. This information will be used in the future to revise and refine the state's evacuation plans.

Frank Revitte (WCM, NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge), along with Mike Koziara (SOO, NWSFO New Orleans) and Dave McIntosh (MIC, NWSO Lake Charles), participated in the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Tabletop Exercise. A total of 75 people attended the day-long exercise, which emphasized response to events immediately before and after landfall. The exercise was deemed a success, with excellent discussion among the participants regarding the responses which would be required as a storm approached and moved through the area.

Paul Hebert (MIC, NWSFO Miami) summarized the Florida NWS Offices' participation in the Florida Governor's Hurricane Conference. In previous years, the only NWS presence at the conference were the NHC Director and the Florida Area Manager. This year, all of the MICs and WCMs not only attended the conference but led a series of workshops for the 1,400 conference attendees. Workshop topics ranged from basic meteorology to modernized NWS products to inland wind effects of tropical cyclones.

LOCAL COORDINATION. Bruce Burkman (WCM, NWSO Shreveport) has joined the ranks of the Caddo/Bossier Office of Emergency Preparedness (OEP) as a voting member of the Local Emergency Planning Committee. This has given him a direct social and professional link with all of the Shreveport area city and parish leaders, and the committee has received a voice from the NWS on weather-related emergency preparedness issues. Bruce has participated in several meetings and reports that the position is well worth his time. Besides the relationships being developed with the local officials, several spotter training and hazardous weather safety talks have spun off from the contacts.

MEDIA OUTREACH. Howard Waldron (WCM, NWSO Knoxville/Tri-Cities) conducted a workshop for the eastern Tennessee television weathercasters. The workshop began with an overview of the WSR-88D and strengths and weaknesses of the products available via NIDS. Next, an introduction to the hydrologic program was given, followed by a briefing of products issued by NWSO Morristown. The morning session concluded with a briefing on the warning process. After lunch, the workshop focused on data collection and a look at future products and services which will be available from the NWS. The workshop concluded with a map briefing for those who had 6 p.m. weathercasts to prepare. Howard noted that the workshop was very successful, and the Morristown staff already has plans to expand future workshops to include radio, the print media, and local Emergency Managers as well.

Al Moller (Lead Forecaster, NWSFO Fort Worth) met for a total of eight hours with Joe Nick Patoski of Texas Monthly magazine. Joe is writing an in-depth article on tornadoes and tornado chasing, which in turn will become a series of articles to be published in Texas Monthly. Mr. Patoski is very interested in the relationship between storm chasers, spotters and the NWS spotter training program, and WSR-88D data. Joe also received some field experience, as he spent several days with Al and other storm chasers in western Kansas and the Texas Panhandle.

PREPAREDNESS NEWS. Some notes from across the region:

Larry Eblen (WCM, NWSFO Austin/San Antonio) is continuing his preparedness efforts with the Northeast and Northside Independent School Districts in San Antonio. The districts comprise over 100,000 students, with over 40,000 riding buses each afternoon during the peak severe weather time. Both districts are working with Larry to establish four training programs: basic spotter training for campus police, maintenance, and custodial personnel; weather safety programs for bus drivers, warehouse workers, and maintenance personnel; safety programs for school coaches; and in-depth spotter/safety/sheltering programs for campus supervisors.

Richard May, Amy McCullough, Phillip Baker, Mark Deutschendorf, Patricia Capers, Monte Oaks, Larry Blanchard, and Shirley Matejka of NWSO San Angelo staffed a booth at Sunset Mall in San Angelo. Nearly 3,000 people stopped by the exhibit, which was set up as part of Community Awareness Day in the city. The staff showed severe weather videos, passed out information, and answered questions about the NWS and preparedness issues.

Jim Lushine and Michael O'Brien of NWSFO Miami staffed a booth at the Ocean Expo in Fort Lauderdale. The Ocean Expo is a yearly trade show for the diving public and vendors of diving equipment and services. Over 2,000 people attended the expo during its two-day run. Jim and Michael handed out hundreds of informational brochures during the show and fielded questions about weather in general, NWS products and services, and modernization programs.

MIC Jerry McDuffie and WCM Howard Waldron from NWSO Knoxville/Tri Cities have been on the coordination trail recently. During the course of a recent week, Jerry and Howard made three major contacts. They attended an Emergency Management conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. The conference focused on warning dissemination and NAWAS, and included a NAWAS briefing given by FEMA representatives. They also attended a quarterly meeting of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, where Howard gave a briefing on EMWIN. Finally, Howard gave a severe weather presentation to approximately 150 employees at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). NWSO Morristown has been working with ORNL in dealing with issues such as severe weather climatology and warning procedures.

NWSFO MEMPHIS. The staff at NWSFO Memphis, and particularly HMT Marlene Mickelson, received several accolades for their forecasts recently. The administrator and the symphony conductor of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra visited the NWSFO to express their thanks for the excellent weather advice they received, which prompted them to reschedule their "Sunset Symphony," the highlight to a month-long series of cultural, musical, civic, and athletic events in Memphis. In addition to the concert, this year's "Sunset Symphony" was especially important because it incorporated the Olympic Torch relay and an appearance by Vice President Gore. The public forecast included heavy rain showers and thunderstorms for the date of the concert. By postponing the event for one day, the crowd of 50,000 was treated to a great concert under a cloudless sky, with mild temperatures and low humidity.

Great job, Memphis!

COUNTY WARNING AREA FOR MIAMI CHANGING JULY 16. As modernization and restructuring activities continue, the official warning responsibility for Key West's area will soon change. Effective at noon, EDT, Tuesday, July 16, 1996, the following change in county warning area responsibility for the following state/county will be made:

1. To NWSFO MIA

COUNTY FROM

WSO KEY WEST, FL

Monroe

Additionally, NWSFO Miami will also assume NWR programming responsibility for Key West.

HYDROLOGIC SERVICES DIVISION

RIVER FORECAST CENTER HIGHLIGHTS

SERFC Extended Hours. Effective June 16, the SERFC Atlanta will be staffed between the hours of 6:30 a.m. and 11 p.m., seven days per week. As a minimum, staffing during this period will consist of a HAS forecaster and one hydro forecaster. The hours between 11 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. will be covered as conditions warrant.

WGRFC Expanded Services. WGRFC Fort Worth has developed an automated on-line information system that allows cooperative users access to text and graphical hydrometeorological information. The system, known as the WGRFC River Forecast Service Package, is a great idea and a way to expand the services and cooperation between the modernized RFC and its external partners. Several river authorities and other water management agencies in and around Texas have already shown interest in the service.

COE Visits LMRFC. On May 28, 15 officials from the Army Corps of Engineers visited LMRFC for a briefing on modernized RFC operations and a demonstration of the modernized RFC technology. Officials from the Lower Mississippi Valley Division, Vicksburg District, New Orleans District, and the Waterways Experiment Station were in attendance. The group was impressed with the Interactive Forecast Program and Stage 3 Precipitation Processing. During the visit, an enhanced and expanded data exchange between the two agencies was discussed. Mike Koziara (SOO, NWSFO New Orleans) also provided the group with a tour of the forecast office. The visit was arranged by Donell Woods, (MIC, WSO COE Vicksburg).

Chinese Visit. On May 29, LMRFC hosted 14 representatives from the Yellow River Conservancy Commission from the Peoples Republic of China. The delegation was briefed on LMRFC forecast operations with an emphasis on forecasting on the mainstem of the Mississippi River.

NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS

Texas-Size Training. Ed Polasko (Service Hydrologist, NWSFO Albuquerque) conducted a 90-minute training session for the staff of NWSO El Paso. The seminar was videotaped for use by those staff members not able to attend. Ed plans another training session for late summer to get the El Paso staff updated on the potential flood season on the Gila River Basin which occurs from October through March every year.

Brownsville Station. NWSO Brownsville accepts their HSA transition responsibilities on June 15. Jeff Philo (Hydrologic Focal Point) and Mark Jackson (SOO) have been busy training the staff for their new duties. Standard operating procedures and problematic biases have been covered. In addition, macros were developed relating heavy precipitation-producing patterns and their related hydrologic concerns across the new HSA. San Antonio Service Hydrologist John Patton is scheduled to provide additional hydrologic training to the NWSO Brownsville staff before the HSA transition date.

Cruisin'. NWSO Tallahassee Service Hydrologist Bobby Carle spent a great deal of time on the road during May. Besides a number of trips to emergency management officials in Georgia and Florida, Bobby spoke at two "town meetings" on tropical and modernization topics. In light of the Tropical Storm Alberto flood disaster of July 1994, last year's near-record hurricane season, and this year's forecast of an above average hurricane season, this type of community liaison work is critical. We strongly encourage all service hydrologists to pursue this avenue to better educate and prepare the citizens in their HSA to the hazards of floods and flash floods. Remember, floods kill more people in the United States every year than any other weather-related phenomena. Thanks for the great work, Bobby!

Another Invaluable Teaching Tool. NWSFO San Antonio Service Hydrologist John Patton took new arrival, Mickey Flynn, on an orientation trip to their area's most rapidly-responding flood sites, popular camping grounds, and historical flood sites. This, too, is irreplaceable as a tool to help train new staff members. Thanks, John, and welcome, Mickey.

INTERESTING VACATION IDEAS. Hydrologic Focal Point Craig Ross (NWSO Shreveport) was on annual leave during the last week of May. What makes this a Topics item is that Craig visited headwater sites of two of the larger mainstem rivers in his HSA. Stops included the eastern headwaters of the Rio Grande (not in his HSA), the headwaters of the Arkansas River in the Fremont Pass area of Colorado northeast of Leadville on State Highway 9 (elevation above 11,000 feet), and the headwaters of the Red River given its birth at Blanco Creek along highway 268 west of Forest, New Mexico. Craig comments, "All great rivers have inconspicuous beginnings, but the Red may be the least of all as this was a tiny dry stream wash!"

DROUGHT UPDATE FOR SOUTHERN REGION. While some rainfall relief was reported across the Southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley during late May and early June, severe to extreme drought continued over New Mexico, with moderate to severe drought prevailing across Oklahoma and Texas, and moderate drought reported across parts of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Ray Sondag (Hydrologic Focal Point, NWSO Lake Charles) issued a public information statement (PNS) on May 28 stating that Lake Charles had registered its driest January through May period on record. Craig Ross reported parts of the Shreveport HSA did not receive an inch of rain during May. This part of Louisiana should typically receive well over 5 inches of rain in May. Like Lake Charles, this was the driest January through May period of record for Shreveport. In New Mexico, the water outlook issued in May revealed runoff forecasts ranging from 12% of normal flowing into the Elephant Butte Reservoir to only 67% of normal flowing in the Animas River of northwestern New Mexico.

LOW WATER CROSSING VIDEO. The NWS Office of Hydrology has produced a new video titled The Hidden Danger, Low-Water Crossings. The 8.5-minute video graphically depicts the hidden dangers of low-water crossings and includes safety rules. Over 200 copies of the video have recently been distributed to NWS offices throughout the country. Plans are in the works to create additional copies for distribution to schools and the media.

Extra copies of the video can be obtained for $3.50 each by sending a check or money order, payable to National Weather Service/NOAA, to Larry Wenzel at Office of Hydrology, SSMC2, Room 8115, 1325 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20910, Tel: (301) 713-0006.

RAINFALL FREQUENCY ATLAS. A copy of Technical Paper 40, Rainfall Frequency Atlas of the U.S. was recently distributed to all offices. This is a handy reference for your local use and is also one of the most frequently requested documents from design engineers who may call on you for help. Some of you may have the original publication, but many do not. (It is no longer in print.) The original measures about 16" x 24" and is very hard to copy. This miniature version will make it much easier to copy. Although much of the text is illegible, the graphics are discernable enough for local use.

RAINFALL CLIMATOLOGY. By coincidence, the Rainfall Frequency Atlas mentioned above was one of the reference materials used to create the new NOAA Tech Memo NWS SR-175, A Rainfall Climatology of the NWSFO Memphis County Warning Area, that was recently distributed. The document should be given some special attention as it addresses the importance of understanding rainfall climatology in relation to the preparation of quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPF). Congratulations to David Gaffin and Joseph Lowery on completing a useful and timely reference. It is highly recommended that other offices consider conducting similar research for their respective hydrologic service area.

OCTOBER 1995 FLOODING IN SOUTH FLORIDA. Jere Gallup (NWSFO Miami) has produced an interesting account of the causes and effect from the excessive rain event that occurred over southeast Florida last October. The paper is published as a technical attachment to this issue of Topics.

SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION

PREPARING FOR METAR IMPLEMENTATION. We will contact each office prior to the METAR conversion to make sure they are prepared. To help with any last minute questions or problems, Southern Region Headquarters has put together a task team which will be available through the weekend prior to July 1 so you will have resources for answering questions or assisting with problems. The hours of operations will be from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 29, and all day Sunday, June 30. We will also have team members available overnight on Monday, July 1, to assist with any questions or problems immediately following the changeover. We will be sending out more information with details on team members and hours of operations in the next few days.

By now office preparations for the July 1 METAR change should be nearly complete. The new SAO decoder program (Version 12.03) and the new roundup programs should be loaded and running at all offices, and sites should have the databases updated as well. This includes the addition of all needed MTR category AFOS product keys to the database. Other activities that need to be completed prior to the changeover include TAF and METAR familiarization and observation recertification. We realize that this is creating quite a tax on each office. Sites needing support for these activities should call Gordon Hammons at (817) 334-2671.

SOO NEWS. Shawn Bennett (SOO, WSFO San Juan) arranged another in a series of tropical forecasting workshops for the WSFO staff last week. NWSO Melbourne SOO Dave Sharp participated and shared perspectives from his office regarding WSR-88D applications--in particular their experiences with radar-adaptable parameters. Bernard Meisner (SSD) also assisted with the training.

At NWSO Corpus Christi last week, about 20 individuals participated in a seminar arranged by SOO Andy Patrick and presented by Dr. Joe Golden from NOAA's Weather Research Program Office. The audience comprised visitors from NWSFO Austin/San Antonio and NWSOs Houston and Brownsville, in addition to the Corpus Christi staff. Joe's presentation focussed on waterspouts and related coastal weather, including results of recent high-resolution modeling studies.

NWSO Tallahassee MIC Paul Duval and SOO Irv Watson recently participated in an organizational meeting for a regional (Florida Big Bend) chapter of the American Meteorological Society. Florida State University has had one of the oldest of AMS student chapters, but the dependency on student support makes it vulnerable to graduations. The goal with the new chapter is to diversify the membership among the university, NWS, private/public and military weather enthusiasts in the Big Bend area, in order to expand membership and create a more stable organization. As part of the organizational meeting, Irv Watson gave a presentation on a case study from VORTEX, during which he was Chief Scientist for the aircraft component of the field project.

COMET OUTREACH PROGRAM. COMET has issued its 1996 Outreach Program Request for Proposals. Copies were mailed to all SOOs and to universities with meteorology departments. The Outreach Program provides funds for collaborative projects involving NWS offices and university faculty and students. After consultation with their NWS collaborators, the faculty member(s) make application to COMET for one of the following:

Partners Projects typically focus on a single case study or analysis problem; involve usually a single forecaster and one faculty member; and may result, for example, in a joint conference paper. They are funded for one year at around $5000.

Cooperative Projects are relatively larger scale efforts, involving an NWS office and several in a university department. They may cover a variety of forecasting topics of interest to the participants, or they can focus on an in-depth analysis of a singe problem--development and application of a forecast model, for example. These projects are funded for one to three years for as much as $25,000/year.

Either type of proposal requires endorsement by the regional director prior to submission. Partners projects may be submitted at any time during the year, but the deadline for submission of cooperative project proposals (to COMET) is November 1, 1996. We suggest the latter be submitted to SRH in draft form, at least, for SSD and the Regional Director to review by September 1. For full information, please refer to the COMET announcement, or contact SSD.

TEXAS TECH COLLABORATION. Prof. Jerry Jurica at Texas Tech University in Lubbock recently received approval of a COMET Outreach (Partners) grant for a project titled, "Development of an Improved Method of Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting in West Texas." This closely follows Dr. Jurica's successful completion of an earlier Partners project (with NWSFO Lubbock SOO Loren Phillips) which involved analysis of WSR-88D Level-II and VORTEX data during a May 1994 severe storm. Results of that work have been summarized in a project report for COMET (and the NWSFO), joint posters presented at the AMS Severe Local Storms Conference last spring, and through NWSFO workshops and meetings with forecasters.

NWSTC COURSES FOR FY 1997. The schedule of classes and dates for courses at the NWS Training Center in Kansas City during FY 1997 has been sent to all offices. MICs are asked to respond to SRH by August 20 with nominations of individuals who wish to attend any of the classes. The input will be consolidated into a final list of attendees for all the classes, and offices will be notified by the end of August.

LIGHTNING AT SUMMER OLYMPICS VENUE SITES. Andrew "Irv" Watson (SOO, Tallahassee) and Ronald Holle (NSSL) have published a paper entitled, An Eight-year Climatology of the Southeast United States Prepared for the 1996 Summer Olympics in the May Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Their study notes that the Olympic games will occur during the peak lightning season in the Southeast, and that lightning will pose a significant hazard to spectators and participants at the crowded venues. While such a regional lightning climatology is conceptually helpful, Irv and Ron stress that forecasting day-to-day mesoscale convection at the Olympics sites will be of paramount importance.

CONVERSION TO PC-GRIDDS 96. All offices should be prepared to convert to the 1996 version of the PC-GRIDDS software by next month. Since May 1992, NWS field offices have been using PC-GRIDDS data produced by a computer at NCEP and distributed by regional servers. That machine will be phased out in August, resulting in a change to the PC-GRIDDS data flow.

Dr. Ralph Petersen and Jacqueline Lord (OM) developed a new version of the PC-GRIDDS software for international use by the World Area Forecast System (WAFS). They have modified that version for use by the NWS. This new version of the PC-GRIDDS software may be obtained via modem from the SRH server (choose Menu Option 9) or via ftp from either the SRH data server (files are in the directory /ext1/download/pcgridds) or the NCEP file server. An electronic README file with complete installation instructions is available at each site. Don Baker (NWSFO Lubbock) has updated his popular Command File Manager for the new version of PC-GRIDDS. It may be obtained from the SRH server (choose Menu Option 9).

Unfortunately, the data files for the current and new versions of PC-GRIDDS are incompatible. The new version of the software includes an option for converting older data files to the new format. Data compatible with the current version of the PC-GRIDDS software will continue to be available from the SRH server as long as the NCEP computer is available.

SSD has begun providing data for the new version of PC-GRIDDS via the SRH server (choose Menu Option 8). Since these data files will be at the full spatial resolution of the models, it will be necessary to limit the domain and/or number of variables to keep the files sizes reasonable. We anticipate producing for each model (Eta, NGM, AVN, and RUC) a national domain data set with a limited number of variables at the mandatory pressure levels and a regional domain data set with most of the parameters available in the current PC-GRIDDS data files. At this writing, current Southern Region data for the Eta model and national data for the NGM model are available on the SRH server (choose Menu Option 8). These files can be directly read by the PC-GRIDDS software; no preprocessing (i.e., GRIDCOMB and RAMAKE) is required.

The new version of PC-GRIDDS software includes a program that converts GRIB formatted data into the new PC-GRIDDS data format. Offices may optionally elect to obtain the larger GRIB data files from the SRH server via the regional Frame Relay Network and generate customized PC-GRIDDS data sets using the conversion program included with the new version of the software.

STAR UPDATE. My tenure at SRH as a STAR employee is winding down. The new Web server has arrived and we have begun testing it. We plan to have the region's home page up and running and available to all users by July 1. Last week I attended a NOAA conference on JAVA in Seattle with Dave Faciane (NWSO Tallahassee) and Leon Minton (SRH SOD). The conference will help us better understand how webmasters can incorporate JAVA applets (applications) into their home pages.

A technical attachment on design and layout philosophies for an office's home page is included in this Topics. It was written for someone who has a basic understanding of the Internet and a vague idea of what HTML is. If you have any questions regarding the attachment or Web pages in general, direct them to me (Tim Brice, SSD) at (817) 978-2671.

NEW SEVERE WEATHER PRODUCTS AVAILABLE ON AFOS. As of May 29, two severe weather statistical summaries became available on AFOS. The first, cccSTAHRY, similar to the existing cccSTADTS product, will be issued hourly. This product is a compilation of severe weather events reported to the NCEP Storm Prediction Center. The second new product is the graphic HRY that is a plot of the above product. See AFOS Change Notice N. 1210 for details.

INTERNATIONAL VISITORS. Tallahassee MIC Paul Duval and his staff recently hosted a visit by meteorologists from 23 tropical nations. The visit was part of the 1996 WMO tropical forecasting course administered by NOAA. Earlier, the students spent two months in Miami (at NHC and Florida Atlantic University), then they travelled to Florida State for two weeks. Dr. Jon Ahlquist, who coordinated the FSU part of the course, complimented the staff at the NWS office and noted that several of the participants indicated the Tallahassee portion of their instruction was the most relevant to their work. The visit also provided a great opportunity for the students to see first-hand how modernization has changed the NWS, including the ties we have built between the NWS, FSU and the Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology.

SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION BRANCH

FRAME RELAY UPDATE. The Basic Frame Relay in Southern Region is complete. Lines have been installed in all offices and connected to the backbone. Internet connections are coming on-line. We expect to meet with the National Weather Service Headquarters in late June to fine- tune the data stream transmitted over the satellite broadcast network.

EMRS STATUS. EMRS continues to get a very high priority at the regional and national level. Presently, the system is generating enough data to make major management decisions on systems within the agency. For the most part, Southern Region offices have shown significant improvement in their entry of data into the EMRS system. Southern Region will begin using EMRS information for more management decisions and quality control functions.

There are several improvements scheduled for the software over the next few months. A new off-line data entry package is being tested that will allow technicians to store information in a PC and dump the information at one time. Currently, each record takes an average of 20 minutes to generate in the on-line mode. A number of extra reports are scheduled to be generated to allow managers an opportunity to review their programs.

HUB McNETT UPDATE. If you have not heard, Hub had a mild heart attack in early June at the office. He was released from the hospital after a few days and is now resting at home. He is scheduled for more tests in mid-June. After the tests, we will know more about his recovery. We wish him the best.

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