UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
June 1, 1998
NWS Director Jack Kelly recently commended all employees for their outstanding response to the effects brought on by the unprecedented El Niño which captured the public's attention for the past many months. A copy of his message is attached to this month's Topics. I want to add my personal thanks to everyone in the Southern Region, because I know just how challenging it has been to respond not only to the many significant weather events the El Niño induced circulation has thrown at our region in particular, but also the countless calls for interviews and information about El Niño. You have all more than met these challenges, with results that have been simply outstanding. El Niño has tested our modernized weather service, and I think we passed with flying colors.
FLORIDA GOVERNOR'S HURRICANE CONFERENCE. I will be participating this week along with representatives from NCEP/NHC and the Southern Region offices which provide services for Florida in the 12th annual Governor's Hurricane Conference. This conference, in Tampa, has evolved into one of the leading hurricane meetings nationwide, attracting several hundred attendees each year. The NWS participants will host a series of workshops describing our hurricane-related products and services. In addition, the conference represents an excellent opportunity to interact with our Emergency Management partners and private sector companies, each of whom will be well-represented at the conference.
NATIONAL WEATHER ASSOCIATION AWARDS. Again this year we have forwarded several outstanding nominations to the NWA for their annual awards program. All were received from WFOs, and they reflect both the quality of services as well as the professionalism and dedication with which NWS employees carry out their responsibilities. The many significant events of the past year presented more challenges than ever, and all of the nominees are deserving of honors.
BAKER VISITS SOUTHERN REGION! It was with profound pleasure that we welcomed NOAA Administrator, D. James Baker, to Southern Region Headquarters on Tuesday, May 5, 1995. Dr. Baker and his Staff Assistant, Pat Thorne, spent a good part of the day in Fort Worth visiting with all employees as well as separate meetings with managers, the local NWSEO union steward and the Acting Regional Director. The visitation not only included representatives from SRH but also the NWSFO and the RFC. Dr. Baker and his assistant were warmly greeted and expressed strong support for the NWS Southern Region. Jim Baker's visit marks the first time a NOAA Administrator has visited SRH since Robert M. White did so back in the late 60s as the ESSA Administrator. Baker and Thorne went on to visit Houston the next day. They met with our local managers and then had an all-hands meeting at the NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group at the Johnson Spaceflight Center.
FIELD OPERATIONAL CONCERNS AND OFFICE VISITS. Over the past several weeks, it has been my pleasure to visit SR field offices at Amarillo, Tampa, Miami and Melbourne. We were able to have "all-hands" meetings with the staffs which involved some very good discussions on current and future issues facing NOAA and National Weather Service. Some expressions of concern from them as well as many other offices included, the continued need for the NWR support positions, serious concern over having just one forecaster and an HMT/Meteorologist on one shift (midnight?) at end-state, AWIPS delivery and its eventual capabilities, FY-98 budget shortfalls, CRS, meteorologist placement process, the private sector etc. In most cases, with some recent leadership decisions we were able to answer many of these concerns very positively especially with some of the recent developments e.g. CRS voice improvements, continued fills of NWR warning support positions but with term/temp people until mid to late FY-99, AWIPS delivery advancements, meteorologist placement process corrections, improvement to our FY-98 labor funding. I will continue to visit field offices whenever efficient opportunities avail themselves through other travel.
Southern Region has a new AWIPS Program Manager in the Systems Operations Division, Matthew Strahan. Matt comes to SRH from WFO Wichita, Kansas, where he was a forecaster and the AWIPS focal point. Matt has been working with AWIPS since it was installed at Wichita about two years ago, so he is very familiar with the system. He will be taking over all of the AWIPS program management responsibilities within the next few months. His telephone number at SRH is (817) 978-2367 x 132, fax (817) 978-2020. He can also be reached on cc:Mail. Please welcome Matt to Southern Region when you get a chance.
HURRICANE READINESS REVIEW. The annual pre-season SRH hurricane readiness review was conducted on June 4. Personnel from all divisions met to review staffing, equipment, training and other programs at the coastal WFOs and the supporting RFCs. Aside from ensuring an early response to any potential problems, the status information is made available to personnel who will staff the SR Hurricane Watch Office. Their job will be to monitor storms and assist the thirteen coastal WFOs in providing warning services when tropical storms and hurricanes threaten the coast.
CONVECTIVE WATCH DECENTRALIZATION. We have just received word from National Weather Service Headquarters that Phases II-IV of the Convective Watch Decentralization plan have been deferred pending resolution of field staffing and work-load issues and recently stated customer concerns regarding the program. Phase I, currently scheduled for implementation in the fall of 1999, will proceed. Phase I includes:
• Changing the graphical presentation of the watch from a parallelogram to a polygon of up to 6 sides
• Introduction of the Watch County Notification (WCN) product, which will replace the SLS (watch redefine) and SPSs used to clear watches
• Introduction of the procedure by which SPC will use WCNs to update watch graphics on the hourly radar summary chart.
We will provide additional information regarding the watch decentralization program as it becomes available.
CLIMATE EXTREMES. Think you may have a nationally significant extreme in temperature, snow, rain, wind, or pressure? Exceeding a previous national extreme is rare, but it does occur. In 1997, the National Climate Extremes Committee (NCEC) was formed to investigate extreme meteorological/climatological events and provide their findings to NOAA. The committee checks the validity of the extreme measurement, reports NOAA's recommendation, and coordinates with the media. Local records will continue to be validated by the local office. Only extremes of a national magnitude will be investigated by the NCEC. If there is a possible national record in your area, team members may include staff from your office. See the attached document for more details and a list of national extremes through 1997.
GET TO KNOW THE PMO. Forecasters at offices which have, or will soon assume a marine program, should take the time to visit the nearest NWS Port Meteorological Officer (PMO). Spend a day or two on the docks and ships learning about PMO duties. Learn about ship equipment maintenance and the recruitment of new ships for the VOS program. If you have seminars and workshops in your office on relevant subjects, don't forget to invite the PMO, if one is nearby. Without the work of the PMOs, most ship observations would soon be lost. Southern Region PMOs are at Miami (Fort Lauderdale), Jacksonville, New Orleans, and Houston.
AWIPS AND MARINE. Coastal offices that have already received AWIPS have noticed several marine items missing from early software builds. Stay tuned! Marine maps are currently being completed for the CONUS. These are expected to be included in AWIPS version 4.1 in September 1998. Ships, drifting buoys, the remaining marine maps, marine specific grids, and warning generation should be added in version 4.2 in March 1999. Marine product generation and METSAT winds may be added in version 5.0 sometime after the turn of the century.
CONGRATULATIONS TO BROWNSVILLE. The relationship between local marine users and the Brownsville NWSO continues to be strong. The staff at Brownsville has worked closely with the Texas General Land Office (GLO), to provide as needed weather information in marine emergencies. The GLO is responsible for preventing and responding to oil or other toxic spills in the bay waters along the Texas coast. All the forecast staff at Brownsville have taken familiarization floats on the GLO's 25 foot boat and their airboat. The Brownsville office was presented with the "OSPRA" award by the GLO to honor this relationship. Kudos to the Brownsville Marine Weather Team and the entire staff for a job well done.
FESTIVAL ON THE DOCKS. Steven Smart represented the NWS at the Seventh Annual Corpus Christi Maritime Festival. Marine brochures and hurricane awareness information were given to the public. An NWR receiver was used to promote SAME technology and CRS. Around 400 people were educated with NWS brochures, weather information, and a partially filled radiosonde balloon. Great job! Getting to know our customers is the only way to serve them best.
HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS. June 1 marked the start of the 1998 hurricane season. Southern Region coastal offices are continuing their efforts to prepare their customers for the season...
Frank Revitte, WCM at NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge, coordinated with the Louisiana Office of Emergency Preparedness regarding their statewide hurricane preparedness activities. Rather than holding a hurricane preparedness week, this year the state has designated June as Hurricane Preparedness Month. Activities are scheduled throughout the month, including a statewide hurricane exercise, brochure mailings, and media campaigns.
NWSFO San Juan MIC Israel Matos and WCM Rafael Mojica have been active in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. A recent hurricane preparedness presentation at the annual Commander's Safety Conference drew praises from the Puerto Rico National Guard. A letter to the NWSFO stated "your presentation was highly acclaimed by the conference attendees for both your professionalism and extensive knowledge of the subject matter. Individuals of your caliber inspire others to grow in their respective chosen careers." Kudos, Israel and Rafael!
Jim Lushine, WCM at NWSFO Miami, coordinated with Florida International University staff and students on the release of "Get Ready 98," a preparedness brochure produced by the FIU Public Relations Student Society. In addition to the normal hurricane preparedness guidelines, this year's brochure focused on safety and advance planning for pets. Over 100,000 copies of the brochure were printed (local companies provided funding for the printing), with the brochure appearing in English, Spanish, braille, and Creole.
NWSO Tampa Bay WCM Walt Zaleski appeared on a live one-hour hurricane special produced by WFTS-TV in Tampa. NWSO Tampa Bay served as one of several on-camera locations used for the special. Walt described the hurricane watch and warning process, activities at the NWSO during a hurricane threat, dissemination of products through the media and to the public, and the utility of NOAA Weather Radio.
SPOTTER TRAINING HIGHLIGHTS. As we move into June, we pass the peak of the severe weather season for much of the Southern Region. However, severe weather can continue to threaten the northern and western parts of the region well into June. Below are some spotter training highlights...
NWSFO Albuquerque WCM Keith Hayes conducted a spotter training program in Clovis, New Mexico. The presentation included severe thunderstorm and tornado safety tips, a review of local warning systems by the Clovis EMC (including a plug for NWR and SAME), and about 75 minutes of basic/intermediate storm spotting concepts. The significance of this program is that the entire session was broadcast live by Clovis Cable TV. Most larger cities have public-access cable TV channels that broadcast city council meetings and other local activities. These channels provide another potential outlet for our hazardous weather presentations.
WCM John Cole and Forecaster Robert Luna of NWSO Corpus Christi received positive comments from a recent spotter training session in Corpus Christi. SRH received a note from one of the attendees describing the session as "one of the most informative, well presented, and entertaining presentations that I have ever been to in my life. I am a public school teacher of 15 years...and have rarely seen a two-hour seminar be as effective as the one presented tonight." Good job, John and Robert!
70-CM AMATEUR RADIO THREATENED. We were recently made aware of a motion for the FCC to sell the 70-cm (440 MHZ) amateur radio band to the private sector. Obviously, this would be very disruptive to spotter network operations in the Southern Region. Many networks use the 440 MHZ band to link repeaters, while others use those frequencies as backup to their 2-meter (144-148 MHZ) communications channels. We at SRH are concerned about this threat and are coordinating with WSH regarding this issue. While we cannot actively lobby Congress regarding this proposal, we should ensure that our amateur radio partners are aware of this threat and the impacts it may have.
VANITY CALL SIGN. Scott Spratt, forecaster at NWSO Melbourne, reported that the NWSO has applied for, and received, an amateur radio club "vanity" call sign. The unique call sign "WX4MLB" was chosen. Several other offices have established club call signs for their amateur radio base stations, but "WX4MLB" is the most unique we've heard about.
SCHOOL PREPAREDNESS. NWSO Corpus Christi forecaster Robert Luna spoke to 220 third through fifth grade students at Eastside Elementary School in Del Rio. Robert's presentation described the water cycle, fronts, El Niño, and severe weather safety. Robert showed the students a weather balloon and how information from balloons is used to forecast weather. Robert concluded with videotapes on how television weathercasts are prepared and some tornado footage.
REAL LIFE 101. NWSO Melbourne forecaster Peggy Glitto was the focus of a segment taped for "Real Life 101." This is a career guidance program for teens designed to fill the need for mandatory educational programming prescribed by the FCC. Peggy discussed her job as a forecaster, what training and schooling was required, and how long her education and training took. The highlight for the host and crew was the operation of the WSR-88D and a trip inside the radome. The segment will air this fall on about 85% of TV stations nationwide.
AVIATION OUTREACH. On May 21, NWSO Corpus Christi representatives, Joe Arellano (MIC), Dave Davenport (DAPM), Tawnya Parke (meteorologist), and Steve Smart (HMT), were featured speakers at an aviation safety meeting concerning ASOS in Victoria, Texas. The meeting was sponsored by management of the Victoria Regional Airport and the Pilots Advisory Group. It was organized to address safety issues raised by the aviation community in Victoria, since the local ASOS is scheduled to be unaugmented. Over 30 pilots from the Victoria area attended and were presented topics that included a comparison of ASOS versus human observations, ASOS strengths and limitations, and planned ASOS sensor enhancements. Overall, the pilots gained a better understanding of ASOS capabilities and functionality, and learned how it can best be incorporated into their daily flight operations.
FIRE WEATHER TRAINING PROVIDED. Al Dreumont, MIC at NWSFO Austin/San Antonio, provided meteorological instruction at an S-290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior Course held recently in Austin, Texas. The course was co-sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service and Texas Forest Service. Students represented the Austin Fire Department, as well as various other departments throughout Travis County. Al's expertise and professionalism, were major contributing factors to the success of the course. The Fire Management Officer indicated that Al had done a great job in relating to the students and presenting difficult subject matter to the inexperienced wildland firefighters. This was affirmed by the high student exam scores.
SATISFIED FIRE WEATHER CUSTOMER. Lindon Wiebe, Assistant Fire Management Officer for the U.S. Forest Service Southwest Region, visited the staff of NWSFO Albuquerque to express appreciation for the quality and timeliness of spot forecasts provided during a recent wildfire in New Mexico. Mr. Wiebe particularly noted their satisfaction with the accuracy of the forecast elements.
NOAA-K LAUNCHED. At 1552 UTC, May 13, 1998, the polar-orbiting NOAA-K satellite was successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Once check-out is complete, the satellite will be renamed NOAA-15 and replace NOAA-12. NOAA-K has the new microwave sounder (AMSU) and an additional imager channel (1.6 microns) onboard.
NWR OUTREACH. Efforts continue throughout the Southern Region to raise awareness of the benefits of NOAA Weather Radio. Recently, NWSFO Austin/San Antonio Lead Forecaster Larry Peabody incorporated NWR and local office Internet address information into newspaper weather packages in his County Warning Area (CWA). One of those newspapers has a Sunday circulation of over 500,000.
We have since distributed Larry's ideas throughout the Southern Region. The efforts are paying off as more offices are pursuing this avenue of outreach. Most recently, Jim Purpura, WCM at NWSFO Norman, reported that the editor of The Daily Oklahoman has agreed to include the public service telephone number, the NWR frequency for Oklahoma City and the Internet address for the Norman office as a routine part of their daily weather page.
CRS TRAINING. The first Southern Region CRS Operator's Training Course was completed on May 14. CRS, otherwise known as NOAA Weather Radio 2000, is being deployed throughout the region this year. The training, held at NWSO Corpus Christi, was attended by staff from NWSOs El Paso, Midland, Brownsville and Lake Charles as well as two from the SRH staff. The training covered database structure and management plus system administration functions and operations. Future training sessions are being planned for Jackson, Tulsa, and several other Southern Region sites this year.
THUNDER BUCKET. The Thunder Bucket give-away continues this spring in West Texas. The Thunder Bucket is a basic survival bucket containing a NOAA Weather Radio, first aid kit, bottled water, emergency blanket, flashlight, and high protein food. Included with the Thunder Bucket is the theme: "Don't get struck without a P-L-A-N", or Prepare, Look, Listen, Act and Neighbor. The idea was the brainchild of NWSO Midland Administrative Assistant Karen Fago who received an NWS Special Service Award and a Modernization Award for her excellent efforts.
Last year, the Midland ABC-TV affiliate gave away 100 Thunder Buckets and the Lubbock NBC-TV affiliate gave away 15 buckets. Their plans were to give away an additional 75 (Midland ABC-TV affiliate) and 15 (Lubbock NBC-TV affiliate) during May. NWSO Midland provides NWS and American Red Cross labels, and the TV stations providing the kits sponsor the Thunder Bucket on-air promotions and give-aways. The NWS and on-air meteorologists often visit schools (separately and jointly) promoting the Thunder Bucket. The TV stations provided the Midland office one Thunder Bucket which is added to their weather video loaner library for civic and school groups to checkout for use... greatly multiplying their visibility over what one small WFO staff could possibly accomplish in person.
NEW NWR IN FLORIDA. A new NOAA Weather Radio broadcast began on June 1 (the official start of hurricane season) for the people of southern Sarasota County, Florida. Station WWG-59 broadcasting at a frequency of 162.400 MHZ from a tower in Venice will be programmed by the staff at NWSO Tampa Bay in Ruskin.
UPDATED DAM CATALOG. The Office of Hydrology plans to release an updated version of the PC-based dam catalog by the end of June. The update includes a new dam inventory database from all states that is consolidated by FEMA and the Corps of Engineers. This new dam catalog will also be incorporated into the WFO Hydrologic Forecast System (WHFS) as part of AWIPS build 4.1.
REPORT CARD ON AMERICA'S DAMS. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) recently released its 1998 report card for America's infrastructure. The report states that approximately 9,200 regulated dams nationwide are categorized as high-hazard, that is, their failure would likely cause significant loss of life and property. The ASCE estimates that it would cost $1 billion to rehabilitate all unsafe dams nationwide. The complete text of the report and related references are available from the following ASCE Web site:
We encourage all our HSAs and RFCs to conduct routine dambreak drills to ensure that everyone is familiar with the dam catalog information and associated software, as well as RFC support for the HSAs in executing the simplified dambreak model. Southern Region policy on dam failures is contained in ROML S-4-97 dated February 12, 1997 which is filed with WSOM Chapter E-20.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
SPRING FLOOD DAMAGES CONTINUE TO ADD UP. NWSO Jacksonville hydrologic focal point Robert Kerns reports that flood damage estimates in Appling County in southeast Georgia could total $1.5 million. Flooding in Appling County started in December 1997.
DRIER WEATHER RETURNING TO CENTRAL FLORIDA AS WELL. Several locations in the Tampa Bay HSA measured less than an inch of rain during April, according to service hydrologist Frank Alsheimer. This is the first time since October 1997 that no river flood warnings were issued in the Tampa HSA.
BELOW NORMAL RAINFALL ACROSS MOST OF TEXAS. All but one of the HSAs across Texas reported below normal rainfall for April. Amy McCullough, hydrology focal point at NWSO San Angelo, reported that southern sections of the San Angelo HSA received no measurable rainfall during April. The Lubbock HSA averaged 0.88 in across its area, according to service hydrologist Steve Drillette. Little or no rainfall was also reported across both El Paso and Midland HSAs. The one WFO to report near to above normal precipitation in Texas was Amarillo, with most of the monthly rainfall coming from a single rain event at the end of April. Lance Goehring, hydro focal point at Amarillo, also mentioned that a trace of snow was observed at Dalhart.
JUST THE OPPOSITE CONDITIONS PREVAILED IN TENNESSEE. All three HSAs in Tennessee reported heavy rainfall and flooding during April. Buzz Merchlewitz, service hydrologist at NWSFO Memphis, reported the Mississippi River crested at 4 and 6 ft above flood stage at Tiptonville, Tennessee, and Caruthersville, Missouri, respectively. In East Tennessee, NWSO Morristown service hydrologist Brian Boyd stated that many locations measured record April rainfall. The TVA reported the Tennessee River Basin above Chattanooga received 8.2 in of basin average rainfall for the month, which is the highest basin average total since records began in 1890. Several locations across East Tennessee measured April rainfall totals between 7 and 17 in.
HEAVY RAINFALL AND FLASH FLOODING IN TULSA HSA. Heavy rainfall prompted flash flood warnings for four counties in the Tulsa HSA on April 27. Numerous roads and intersections were closed in metropolitan Tulsa and over a dozen cars were stranded by high water.
WHFS BEING PUT TO THE TEST AT TULSA AS WELL. April's river flooding event gave NWSO Tulsa service hydrologist Al Hong a chance to put the RiverPro software through its paces. Al has been spending a lot time trying to make the RiverPro templates more user friendly.
TOASTMASTERS SPEECH CONTEST. Brian Boyd, service hydrologist at NWSO Morristown, recently continued his winning ways at a Toastmasters International Speech Contest held in Knoxville. Brian was the winner of a division contest that included local Toastmaster clubs in eastern Tennessee.
NEWS FROM NASHVILLE. NWSO Nashville staff participated in a dambreak flash flood
drill during the last two weeks of May. The dam catalog and the Wise II Version 6.2 product formatter were used to complete the drill.
NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
SOUTHEAST RIVER FORECAST CENTER
QPF Seminar at Tallahassee. Jack Bushong, HAS forecaster, presented a QPF seminar to a meeting of Florida-area SOOs at Florida State University on May 5. Jack participated in a regional meeting of SOOs and faculty of the Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology.
Hydrologic Forecast Operations Video. Reggina Garza, senior hydrologic forecaster, developed a video in Spanish that explains SERFC operations. The video will be used to share information about RFC operations with colleagues in Mexico and Puerto Rico, and other Spanish- speaking countries as part of technology transfer projects.
ARKANSAS RED BASIN RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Verification Software. At the request of several WFOs, ABRFC wrote software that determines the percentage of each county that received rainfall, based on radar estimates for the previous two 12-hour periods, (i.e., 0000 - 1200 UTC and 1200 - 0000 UTC). The WFO's plan to use this information for probability of precipitation (PoP) verification and determining PoP in summertime weather patterns.
ABRFC Home Page Updates. The ABRFC invested considerable resources during the month of May to update information on their home page. Most of the Web pages have been improved to make data retrieval easier. ABRFC products issued since mid-1994 are available thru the online archives. Check out http://www.abrfc.noaa.gov to see the new look.
LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Additional Forecast Services. LMRFC has expanded its forecast services by routinely preparing 5-day river stage forecasts for the Red River mainstem instead of the original 3-day forecasts. These changes were made to meet requirements of barge operators along the Red River and the Corps of Engineers. In June, LMRFC will begin issuing flow forecasts routinely at these locations. Additional forecast services planned for the next year include headwater and tailwater forecasts at the locks and dams along the Red River.
USGS Coordination. Dave Reed (HIC LMRFC) attended the USGS District Chief's Annual Meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia, on May 7. Dave, one of three Southern Region representatives on an NWS/USGS working group to eliminate redundancy and improve coordination, presented results of the group's work to the district chiefs. A final report on coordination will be presented to NWS and USGS headquarters this summer and should be available to field personnel at that time. The report will document existing coordination efforts between the USGS and NWS and provide additional ideas to improve coordination and eliminate redundancy.
NWS/TVA Meeting. On May 9, the NWS and TVA held a coordination meeting at TVA headquarters in Knoxville. The meeting centered around data exchange and forecast products and services. The NWS and TVA plan to hold this meeting annually with the next meeting tentatively planned in the fall at LMRFC. NWS representatives included: Jerry McDuffie (MIC) and Brian Boyd (service hydrologist) NWSO Morristown; Derrel Martin (MIC) and Mike Murphy (SH) NWSO Nashville; Buzz MERCHLEWITZ (SH) NWSFO Memphis; Pat Tanner (SH) NWSO Greenville/Spartanburg; Mike Gillen (SH) NWSO Blacksburg; Marty Pope (senior hydrologist) and Dave Reed (HIC) - LMRFC; Peter Gabrielsen - ERH; and Ben Weiger - SRH.
WEST GULF RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Trip to Upper Rio Grande Watershed. On May 27, hydrologists Paul Greer and Frank Bell were given an informative tour of the upper Rio Grande watershed by Larry Walrod, hydrology focal point at NWSO Pueblo, Colorado, and Steve Vandiver, district engineer from the Colorado Division of Water Resources. Both Paul and Frank saw many of the river gauge locations in the watershed. Mr. Vandiver told the travelers that a great deal of development has taken place adjacent to the Rio Grande in the last five years. He also gave Frank and Paul an explanation of the Water Compact agreement between Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas. Mr. Vandiver explained the importance of the annual water supply forecasts from WGRFC in supporting Colorado's compact agreement responsibilities. He also expressed his appreciation for Paul Greer's history of accurate forecasts and dedication to the water supply program.
SATELLITE SERVER. The SRH server is now officially "operational" for delivering satellite data to all offices in the region who are on the frame relay network, and which have not yet received AWIPS. SWIS and micro-SWIS systems are now surplus. This results from the decision to terminate the GOES-tap lines as of June 1. (We've bought a little time to complete preparations at San Juan, so their GOES-tap will continue until the end of this month.)
Offices have received instructions to follow in the event of loss of satellite imagery. The basic procedure will be for field offices to dial an SRH number and leave a voice mail message which will alert the SRH staff member who is "on call" with a special pager. He or she then will then be responsible for following up to find (and hopefully fix) the problem, and then get back to the field office(s) which reported trouble. Primary points of contact for this at SRH are Ken Waters (SSD), 817-978-2671, and Mario Valverde (SOD), at 817-978-2367x112.
We emphasize that only the satellite data being provided via the server and FRN are now considered "operational." We will still respond to problems with receipt of model and other data, but we cannot promise to do so around the clock.
SATELLITE INFORMATION WEB PAGE. To assist field offices in monitoring the status of the GOES spacecraft, SSD has developed a Satellite Information Web page. This page provides the schedule of Rapid Scan and Super Rapid Scan operations--during which high resolution VIS imagery cannot currently be ingested for dissemination to the field--and links to the NESDIS Satellite Operations Center daily report and NESDIS special information bulletins. To access this page follow the Satellite Information link from the Southern Region Weather Information Web page.
FLORIDA WEATHER WORKSHOP. Jeff Medlin (NWSO Mobile) and Shawn Bennett (NWSFO San Juan) joined the Florida Science and Operations Officers (SOOs) and faculty and students from the Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology at Florida State University in early May for a highly successful Florida Weather Workshop. The goal of the workshop was to share recent research results, scientific instruction methods and efforts to enhance operations that were of interest and value to both the research scientists and the Florida NWS offices. At the conclusion of the workshop the attendees identified several topics for future collaboration between the offices and the cooperative institute.
This workshop is one of four that will be held this year in lieu of the annual Southern Region SOO/Cooperative Institutes workshop. The other workshops will focus on lightning, mesoscale modeling and winter weather.
CHANGES TO THE NCEP OPERATIONAL ETA MODEL SYSTEM. At 1500 UTC on June 3 a series of changes to the operational Meso Eta model suite at NCEP was to be implemented. In the description below, Eta-32 refers to the new 32km/45-level Eta model, while Eta-29 refers to the current 29km/50-level Meso-Eta model. A brief description of these changes follows. You can access TPB #447 at http://tgsv5.nws.noaa.gov/om/tpb/447.htm which describes the Eta-32, 3DVAR analysis and EDAS cycling that were implemented 9 February in the 0000 UTC & 1200 UTC early run slot.
A) OFF-TIME Eta-32 FORECASTS
1) The 0300 UTC run of the Eta-29 (so-called Meso Eta) will be replaced by a 0300 UTC run of the Eta-32. This forecast will be the same length as the Eta-29 forecast (33-h). The 0300 UTC Eta-32 run will be initialized by a three hour assimilation starting at 0000 UTC, as is now done for the Eta-29 but will use a three-dimensional variational (3DVAR) analysis scheme and will start from an Eta Data Assimilation System (EDAS) first guess instead of the Global Data Assimilation System (GDAS).
2) The 1500 UTC run of the Eta-29 (so-called Meso Eta) will be replaced by an 1800 UTC run of the Eta-32. Forecast length will be 30-h with the 1800 UTC analysis produced by a six hour EDAS run from 1200 UTC to 1800 UTC.
3) Forecast products distributed from the 0300 UTC Eta-32 run will be identical to those products distributed from the Eta-29 with the only exception that, during hurricane season, their availability may be delayed. The 1800 UTC Eta-32 forecast will create forecast output identical to that produced by the 1500 UTC Eta-29 run except that it will be available 2-3 hours later. There will be no filename changes on the OSO server. Consequently, the Meso Eta run file names will continue to have their cycle-time mislabeled as T00Z (actually the 0300 UTC run) and T12Z (actually the 1800 UTC run).
B) ANALYSIS CHANGES
1) In the 9 February 1998 Eta implementation, the EDAS was modified to run in a partial cycling mode, in which soil parameters (temperature/moisture), turbulent kinetic energy, and cloud water/ice at the start of each EDAS cycle is initialized from the previous EDAS cycle, while atmospheric variables (temperature, moisture, wind) are obtained from the GDAS. With this implementation, the EDAS will run in full cycling mode, with the atmospheric variables cycled from the previous EDAS in addition to soil/TKE/cloud parameters.
2) The use of optimum interpolation in the Meso Eta analyses has been replaced everywhere by the use of a three-dimensional variational analysis.
HORACE BYERS. We were saddened to learn of the death of Dr. Horace Byers on May 22, at the age of 92. Prof. Byers, a former Dean and Vice President at Texas A&M University, was long retired from teaching and research, but most of us will recall studying his work - which was extensive - while we were in school. He wrote the textbook, in fact, and his life's work laid the foundation for later advances in severe storms, cloud physics, forecasting and many other aspects of our science. Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of The Thunderstorm (Byers and Braham) by the U.S. Government Printing Office. That report details results of the Weather Bureau's Thunderstorm Project, which was headed by Dr. Byers, and that work alone should make his name familiar to all meteorologists.
LOCAL STUDIES AND WEB SITES. The number of local studies being carried out at Southern Region offices has increased significantly in recent years, as evidenced in part by the number of papers and posters that are routinely submitted to AMS and NWA conferences and workshops. SSD has also been inundated by studies submitted for use as technical attachments. With the Southern Topics now being issued monthly, we are simply unable to accommodate all that are received. Luckily, the Internet Web sites being maintained by all the offices offer a viable alternative.
Most offices post on their Web sites the results of local studies, documentation of significant events, and electronic versions of papers that are submitted to conferences or for formal publication. We encourage that. That makes the information accessible to a wider audience than just the readers of our in-house Topics, and it also allows the use of color and even animation or sound clips to enhance the presentations. We want to stress, however, that it is important to ensure such postings - in fact, all information that is posted on the Web sites - represent sound science, and that they adhere to a strict professional style. A WFO or RFC Web site speaks not only for that office, but for the National Weather Service.
We will continue to issue as many tech attachments as possible, and SSD will be happy to review and comment on all papers that are submitted to us. We will also try to call attention to studies that are posted locally, such as the following:
Some Surface Dry Bulb and Dew Point Temperatures Associated with Convective Thunderstorms in El Paso, Texas, by Val MacBlain and Jim Reynolds at: http://nwselp.epcc.edu/elp/papers/elp98-2.html.
Forecasting Large Hail Using the WSR-88D, by John Lewis (NWSFO Little Rock), at: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ftproot/lzk/html/hail.htm.
WSR-88D Tropical Cyclone Operations Plan, prepared by the NCEP Tropical Prediction Center and NWSO Melbourne, at: http://sunmlb.nws.fit.edu/ntltcops.html.
We strongly encourage all coastal offices to review the latter prior to the onset of the upcoming tropical storm season.
AMS SEVERE STORMS CONFERENCE. Speaking of papers, attached to this month's Topics is a summary of papers and posters by Southern Region authors that are scheduled for the American Meteorological Society 19th Conference on Severe Local Storms, to be held next September in Minneapolis.
TECH PROCEDURES BULLETINS. Technical Procedures Bulletins, long relied on by forecasters and others for up-to-date information on model characteristics and NCEP operations, have gone electronic. Past, current, and draft copies of the most current TPBs can be found on the NWS Web site at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/tpbpr.htm. In recent years it has been difficult to maintain currency with the TPBs in printed form. It is hoped that the Web documents will speed delivery of this important information to users.
SHREVEPORT OUTREACH ACTIVITIES. In late April, NWSO Shreveport MIC Lee Harrison and SOO Ken Falk visited the student chapter of the American Meteorological Society at Northeast Louisiana University in Monroe. About 25 students and professors attended the session. Ken presented a seminar on the Jarrell, Texas, tornado of May 27, 1997, including video of the tornado, meteorological analyses for that day, as well as WSR-88D radar data. Lee then discussed job opportunities in the NWS. Both topics resulted in several questions from interested faculty and students.
In early May the NWSO hosted 38 students and one professor from Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, for a tour of the office and a brief seminar. The students were part of an environmental science class that was concentrating on a special project concerning the convective windstorm of February 10, 1998. The windstorm destroyed parts of the Angelina and Sabine National Forests as it rolled through East Texas into western and northern Louisiana. The weather briefing included meteorological analyses and archived radar data, presented by MIC Lee Harrison and SOO Ken Falk. Mark Murphy and Mary Keiser provided the tour.
LIGHTNING SEMINAR AT MORRISTOWN. Ron Holle (ERL/NSSL) is collaborating with forecasters at NWSO Morristown and faculty at the University of Georgia as part of a COMET Partners project aimed at improving understanding of wintertime lightning in the Southeast. As part of this effort, while visiting the NWSO on April 30 he provided a seminar to the NWS staff, sharing the latest thinking on lightning safety. This included recommendations on seeking safe shelter based on "flash to bang" times, and how safe various types of shelters really are. Ron also presented "shocking" statistics on lightning casualties per state and per capita. Finally, as part of his presentation, he showed some of the most spectacular lightning photography ever taken.
Ron is a noted authority on lightning and the demographics of lightning strikes. After the seminar he and Morristown SOO, Steve Hunter, attended a portion of the "Lightning Strike and Electric Shock Survivors" annual meeting in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Steve described the testimonies of numerous survivors as a very moving experience.
BASIC UNIX COMMANDS FOR AWIPS. The NWS Training Center has set up a Web page of basic UNIX commands for AWIPS users. This page will not make you an expert in UNIX, but it provides some basic commands that a typical AWIPS user might need to know. The page is based on a class handout that is used in the NWSTC's ICWF and WHFS workshops. It's at http://www.nwstc.kc.noaa.gov/d.HMD/AWIPS.HTML.
NWA PAPER. Congratulations to Mark Richards and Shannon White (NWSO Nashville) for the publication of their paper titled A Case Study of a Well-Defined Bow Echo with Bookend Vortices, in the latest (September 1997) issue of the National Weather Digest. The study was co-authored by Stephen Goss (NCEP Storm Prediction Center).
"TANKS" FOR THE HELP. Ed Priselac is a USAF Shuttle Launch Weather Officer at Cape Canaveral, and he recently sent the following kudos to forecasters at NWSO Melbourne through MIC Bart Hagemeyer:
I just wanted to thank you and your folks for support of the Super Lightweight Tank (SLWT) Tanking Test yesterday. I especially wanted to single out Steve Hodanish for his outlook and discussions with us Monday morning. His input helped with my early briefing to NASA managers. Please pass my appreciation to Steve and your other folks.
Ed's reference is to the testing of a new fuel tank for the Shuttle. It's hard to imagine an operation that is more weather-sensitive every day of the year. Payloads, hazardous fuels, electronic equipment and personnel are frequently exposed, regardless of whether a vehicle is on the pad being readied for launch. This note illustrates the NWSO's role in the local meteorological community, even though primary NWS weather support for Shuttle operations is provided by the Spaceflight Meteorology Group at Johnson Space Center in Houston.
DACFO REPORT. Greg Patrick (NWSO Tulsa) is the Southern Region representative to the Director's Advisory Committee on Forecast Operations. The DACFO met at NWS Headquarters in April, and Greg provided a summary of the meeting highlights which we have attached to this month's Topics.
DEVELOPMENT ACTIVITIES AT BROWNSVILLE. NWSO Brownsville forecasters Tim Speece and Richard Emanuel recently provided an office seminar to report on their week-long visit to the NHC/Tropical Prediction Center. Tim also presented a seminar for the staff outlining major points from his participation in the OSF's WSR-88D Warning Decision-Making workshop held at COMET last January. Sharing information from those workshops - which now have been attended by at least one individual from every Southern Region WFO, save one - is a vital part of the "train-the-trainer" process. More WDM workshops are planned for the coming months.
NWSO Brownsville has also just completed another successful semester with the AMS DataStreme project, their third such semester of involvement with the program. SOO Mark Jackson and forecasters Paul Yura and Tim Speece served as mentors for five area teachers who completed the course. Starting with the upcoming fall semester, Paul will take over the mentoring team leadership duties that have been performed by Fort Worth teacher Diana Newton-Grayson.
SITE SURVEYS. Several site surveys for AWIPS installations were completed during the month of May. Congratulations to all those who participated and helped out. A special thanks goes out to the staff at NWSO San Angelo, and especially to DAPM Les Hostler and ESA Paul Burke. Due to their advanced planning and efforts the survey was completed just after noon. Good work!
CRS ON-THE-AIR IN CORPUS CHRISTI. In early May, NWSO Corpus Christi successfully converted from digital NWR broadcasts to the next generation NOAA Weather Radio - Console Replacement System (CRS). A team of diverse staff members from NWSO Corpus Christi spearheaded the installation and implementation of the CRS for operational use. In fact, the NWSO was the first coastal station to employ the CRS. The NWSO Corpus Christi CRS team comprised DAPM Dave Davenport, ESA Don Parkerson, meteorologist Chris Jacobson, HMT Tom Dever and forecaster Steve Pfaff. The combined efforts, dedication, and professionalism of the CRS team and the NWSO electronics staff enabled a smooth and successful transition to the Console Replacement System. Corpus Christi milestones during the month included:
May 4 The first on-air CRS synthetic broadcasts commence with the long ID playing once an hour.
May 6 The first set of synthesized hourly broadcasts on the Corpus Christi, Victoria, and Laredo transmitters.
Week of May 11 Three day CRS training workshop presented by CRS team members and SRH support personnel for NWSO Corpus Christi and several other Southern Region offices.
May 18 Synthesized broadcast of the extended forecast product.
In upcoming weeks the CRS team will focus its efforts on providing automated transfer of additional forecast products and enhancement of capabilities. In addition, NWSO Corpus Christi will expand public outreach efforts to increase CRS public awareness and NWR programming goals.
CC:MAIL DB8 MIGRATION PHASE 3. By May 21, a third of the way through the scheduled Phase 3 period of May through June, Southern Region completed more than two thirds (24 of 32) of the post office migrations. The response from the offices has been very positive as they now have automated maintenance every night and better administrative tools that take advantage of the 32-bit Windows 95 and Windows NT environment. In addition to sending out the CDS and initial instructions, Leon Minton has been actively providing support as required during the migration period.
Many offices are also taking advantage of the new Release 8 client that brings a true Windows 32- bit environment to the cc:Mail user. Since Windows 95 and Windows NT are the standard desktop operating systems in Southern Region, this was a natural migration path. Although not sanctioned or supported by NWSH, we felt that using the latest technology was worth assuming sole responsibility for installation and support.
Discussions are ongoing concerning the future of electronic messaging in NWS but it may be some time before any future migration is planned.
FREE CD, HPD & LCD PUBLICATIONS TO CEASE. The National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) has notified the NWS that all free subscriptions to the CDS, HPDs and LCDs have been canceled effective June 1, 1998. As a result of this action, these publications will not be mailed to NWS offices or to the Cooperative (volunteer) observers. Although the products will be available on-line, loss of the free publications could have a significant impact on our volunteer cooperative observation program and we are working with NWS headquarters to try to minimize that impact.
UPPER AIR STATISTICS. Attached this month are the NCEP upper air data reliability and quality control statistics for the past four-month winter season. All regions are included for comparison.
NWSO SHREVEPORT. Lee Harrison, MIC, Ken Falk, SOO, Marion Kuykendall, DAPM, and Mary Keiser, Meteorologist Co-op did a video presentation on NWS operations and modernization for a school project for Bossier Parish Community College of Bossier City, Louisiana.
Lee Harrison, Marion Kuykendall, and Bill Parker participated in Career Day at Southern University-Shreveport-Bossier City. This local university is a branch of the historical Black college of Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Lee Harrison, Marion Kuykendall, and Donovan Landreneau gave a tour to an Earth Science class at Woodlawn High School on NWS operations and job opportunities. A total of 20 African-American students attended.
Meteorologist Bill Parker gave a talk to 75 senior citizens at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Shreveport on modernization, safety rules, and NWS operations.
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