UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
March 1, 1997
NWR EXPANSION IN TEXAS--NOS. 128 AND 129 FOR THE SOUTHERN REGION. Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) officials purchased and installed two NWR transmitter systems to serve the Kerrville and Llano areas in the Texas Hill Country west of Austin/San Antonio. The "dedication ceremony" for the two latest NWR expansion sites was held February 24. The transmitters will be turned over to the NWS to operate and maintain. The Kerrville and Llano transmitters will share a recorder console with programming provided by NWSFO Austin/San Antonio.
NWR ID Frequency Power Kerrville WWF-90 162.450 MHZ 1000 wattsA Texas welcome is extended to these latest additions to the Southern Region NWR family.
Llano WWF-91 162.425 MHZ 1000 watts
SKY AWARENESS WEEK IN TEXAS. Governor George W. Bush issued the following proclamation:
The Texas sky is vast and beautiful. Explorers who traveled to our land used the sky to navigate and to determine weather. Our Texas farmers, ranchers, and fishermen have always depended on the color of the sky, the types of clouds and the rainbows to know what weather to expect. Today, although we have meteorologists who forecast the weather, Texans can learn and benefit by looking skyward.
During the seventh annual Sky Awareness Week (SAW '97), April 20-26, 1997, Texans can celebrate the sky and our atmosphere. SAW '97 will explore how to "read" the sky by learning cloud types and the weather they bring; how to understand sky process (water cycles, sky colors, rainbows); how to appreciate and protect the sky's natural beauty and how to learn about sun safety.
During Sky Awareness Week, schools across the United States and Canada will participate in a multi-disciplinary sky data exchange using electronic mail and/or the Internet throughout the school year.
I urge Texans to learn about our sky and to notice how its color changes from day to day. Looking to the sky gives us a view of birds, airplanes, hot air balloons, the sun, moon and stars, and looking to the sky can provide us with a better understanding of the world around us.
Therefore, I, George W. Bush, Governor of Texas, do hereby proclaim the week of April 20-26, 1997, as:
NDBC PROVIDES NEW, REAL-TIME WAVE INFORMATION. The National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) has developed an experimental product providing more detailed wave information. This product gives estimates of swell and wind-wave height, period, and direction (if measured), as well as an indicator of wave steepness, for each hourly observation. It is available in the real-time data section of NDBC's home page, www.ndbc.noaa.gov.
Though this information can be gleaned from spectral wave bulletins, offices in areas that rarely have swells do not usually decode these messages. Surfers and the boating public have also asked for such swell information. NDBC is soliciting feedback concerning the quality and utility of this product. Please leave your comments on their home page guest book. If enough positive comments are received, NDBC could add this information to the FM-13 messages at a later date.
NDBC's home page is a great way for the boating public and the media to receive a complete set of the latest observations in a timely manner. Regional NWS marine forecasts are offered on the same page as the buoy or C-MAN observations. Status reports, maintenance plans, historical data, site photographs, and climatic tables are also available.
SEVERE WEATHER AWARENESS WEEK ACTIVITIES. Severe weather preparedness campaigns across the region have shifted into high gear over the past few weeks. As of our printing date, most offices have either just completed, or are about to begin, their severe weather awareness week. Office staffs will be granting numerous interviews and releasing statements related to severe weather, and many offices will conduct drills of their hazardous weather communications systems. Our thanks to the hardworking Southern Region staffs for their efforts during the 1997 severe weather preparedness season.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER PAMPHLET. Each year, Southern Region offices produce informational booklets describing various hazardous weather elements and their impacts on the local area. The production quality of these booklets has soared recently, due to improved desktop publishing tools, contributions from partner agencies, and the creativity of those developing the booklets. This year, NWSFO Little Rock took a slightly different tact. Renee Fair (WCM) and John Lewis (forecaster) developed a small-format pamphlet containing severe weather information. The eight-page pamphlet measures 8.5 by 5.5 inches and contains information on spotter distributions, hazardous weather verification, FIPS codes, and important telephone numbers.
EMWIN PROJECT ON HOLD. At the beginning of FY 1997, the Southern Region EMWIN Partnership Program was placed on hold. This was due to a high degree of uncertainty regarding funding levels. The project is still officially on hold, but Mario Valverde and Gary Woodall (MSD) will discuss the possibility of restarting the project with senior regional management. We will keep you informed of developments in this important project over the coming weeks.
NEW STORM SPOTTER'S GLOSSARY. Mike Branick has revised his Storm Spotter's Glossary. The glossary is a list of spotter, storm chaser, and meteorological terms related to severe storm development and behavior. To access Mike's glossary online, use the following URL: http://www.nssl.ou.edu/~nws/branick2.htm
Thanks to Mike for making this guide available.
PREPAREDNESS NEWS. Some highlights from around the Region:
Larry Vannozzi (WCM, NWSFO Lubbock) recently spoke to Lubbock High School's Storm Chaser class. It's actually a "Special Interest" class held each Friday. Larry's presentation included severe weather and tornado safety, career information, and the difference between spotters and chasers. One fortunate aspect of the class, Larry noted, is that the class is about storm chasing and not a "how-to" class!
Rafael Mojica (WCM, NWSFO San Juan) participated as the guest speaker during the Puerto Rico Amateur Radio League's (ARL) general assembly. Rafael's presentation centered on SKYWARN operations and the modernized NWS. Rafael has been heavily involved in the ARL's activities. He helped them set up a SKYWARN Internet home page and established local policy for the ARL's radio operations during hazardous weather. Rafael is one of 11 NWSFO staff members who are taking, or will begin taking, classes to obtain their amateur radio licenses. After his presentation, Rafael was presented with a "Special Citizen's Award" by the ARL in recognition of his efforts. Congratulations, Rafael!
Richard May (WCM) and Phil Baker (forecaster) of NWSO San Angelo conducted the annual Abilene Severe Weather Seminar. Also participating in the session were members of the Abilene media, Emergency Management Agency, and Amateur Radio Emergency Services. The session was attended by 230 people, a record for the event. After the introductory and welcoming remarks, Phil presented a basic spotter training class. This was followed by overviews from each of the TV meteorologists regarding severe weather operations at their stations. Richard concluded the seminar with an advanced spotter training program. The event was covered by the local newspaper and all three of the Abilene TV stations.
WINTER. Many of us in the Southern Region have utilized amateur radio spotters during times of severe convective weather. Keith Hayes (WCM, NWSFO Albuquerque) has begun utilizing the New Mexico spotters during winter weather events as well. Using their new amateur radio equipment which was set up last November, NWSFO Albuquerque has established a network of 85 winter weather spotters across their CWA. Keith reported that the reports of snowfall and other conditions have helped fill in the data-sparse regions in their CWA.
SPACEFLIGHT METEOROLOGY GROUP. The space shuttle Discovery found a break in extensive low clouds in time to launch from the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at 2:55 a.m. CST, February 11, 1997. An upper-level low pressure wave produced drying and sinking air that scoured out a hole in extensive post-frontal low clouds.
The crew of Discovery included Commander Ken Bowersox, Pilot Scott Horowitz, and mission specialists Joe Tanner, Steve Hawley, Greg Harbough, Mark Lee, and Steve Smith. This crew successfully retrieved and serviced the Hubble Telescope, making a record-tying five spacewalks in the process. The astronauts performed ten major optical and electronics upgrades of the orbiting observatory. The fifth spacewalk was needed to patch unexpected rips and blisters in the outer covering of the telescope caused by solar exposure and corrosive elements in the earth's thin upper atmosphere. The shuttle crew then boosted the 25,000-pound telescope nine miles to a record altitude of 380 miles.
The SMG weather team was busy with the threatening low clouds on launch. The landing attempts in the early morning of February 21 were also challenging. The dual dedicated WSR-88D was in full use, as the League City, Texas, WSR-88D was needed to monitor a strong line of thunderstorms passing through the Johnson Space Center just as the landing team members were coming into Mission Control. NWSO Melbourne switched their WSR-88D into the clear air mode, after coordination with assistant lead Richard Lafosse, to better monitor low clouds to the southeast of KSC. Lead techniques development unit meteorologist Mark Keehn used some specialized GOES 8 channel 2 IR low cloud enhancements that were very helpful to monitor and track low clouds.
Rapidly changing low cloud decks prevented the first de-orbit opportunity. These low clouds formed in the southeast wind circulation around an Atlantic high pressure system. Satellite, radar, and astronaut-flown weather reconnaissance reports all confirmed a trend toward dissipating cloudiness before the second de-orbit burn decision. SMG then updated to a "GO" forecast for landing at KSC, and the Flight Director ordered the de-orbit burn.
The Discovery delighted many workers at JSC as it blazed in an awesome moonlit trail across the Houston sky on its way to KSC. John Young was one of those outside of Mission Control as it flew over. John, commander of the first space shuttle mission in 1981, was also impressed by this overhead pass.
Discovery landed at KSC at 2:32 a.m. CST to wrap up the ten-day, 4.1 million-mile mission to refurbish the Hubble. This was the 12th of the last 13 shuttle missions to land at KSC.
Lead SMG forecaster Steve Sokol was working his 71st mission (13th as mission lead).
Visit the SMG home page at http://shuttle.nasa.gov/weather/smghome.html.
REGIONAL PARTNERSHIP COUNCIL. The Southern Region RPC met February 25, 1997, with Bill Proenza, Pat Brown, Steven Cooper, Newton Skiles, Andy Anderson, Tom Wright, and Stan Christmas attending. A rather lengthy discussion was held concerning workload issues associated with NWR and SAME. Many comments from the field have been received by both management and NWSEO. An update on the Houston CWSU project was provided, as well as the status of Internet capability for CWSUs. Other topics for discussion included Alternative Work Schedules and suggestion boxes at the local offices. The next meeting is tentatively planned for April 22.
POLICY HELP--QUESTIONS? Did you know there is an area on the SRH home page designed to help field office staffs with every day (and infrequent) questions. It can be found under Policy References on www.srh.noaa.gov. We would like you to try it and let us know if it is beneficial. Are there other areas you would like to have included in such a section? Your responses to SRH Meteorological Services Division will be appreciated.
SUGGESTION BOX. Do you have one in your office? In recent Regional Partnership Council meetings, we have discussed the merits of such a vehicle for expressing your opinions. Management and NWSEO believe it is a great opportunity for participation in your office.
Spring Flood Potential Increasing Over the Mid-South. The mid-February Palmer Drought Index reveals a large portion of the Southern Region domain is experiencing wetter than normal soil moisture conditions. The wet area includes most of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Alabama, with parts of northern Texas and southern Oklahoma also included. Surrounding the wetter than normal area, most of the remainder of the Southern Region states are experiencing near normal soil moisture. However, portions of southern Texas and southern Florida are drier than normal. To view the Palmer Drought Index via the Internet, use the following URL:
Good News in New Mexico. The NWS and National Resources Conservation Service water supply forecast numbers reveal a well above normal snowpack across the southern Rockies. In northern New Mexico, forecast spring runoff flows range from 145 to 200 per cent of normal. The mountains of western and southwestern New Mexico are in the 90 to 130 per cent range of forecast spring flows. Snowpack water content estimates from the Rio Grande and San Juan basins of New Mexico indicate readings near 170 per cent of normal. These well above normal snowpack readings, along with above normal reservoir storages, indicate good water supplies for northern and central New Mexico in 1997.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Amarillo Activities. NWSO Amarillo hydrologic focal point Lance Goehring plans several hydrologic seminars for the Amarillo staff in March. The first seminar will be designed to help the staff better understand the full suite of hydrologic products (in other words, what to issue when). The second seminar will be a "tour" of the Hydrologic Service Area along with related case studies. Lance also plans a seminar to discuss QPF and to review information contained in the previous two seminars. Great idea, Lance, especially as we near severe weather and heavy rain season.
ALERT News. On February 18, NWSFO Jackson hosted a meeting with the operators of ALERT systems in the Jackson HSA. Jackson senior service hydrologist Tommy Thompson hosted the meeting with representatives from the cities of Hattiesburg, Laurel, and Meridian. Also in attendance were Bill Reid of the Pat Harrison Waterways District, Pat Sneeringer representing Southern Region, and Dave Reed and E.J. Leche of LMRFC Slidell.
Flood Tracking Chart Complete. Paul Trotter and Dave Smith (MIC and senior service hydrologist, NWSFO New Orleans) and Dave Reed (HIC, LMRFC Slidell) attended Louisiana Congressman Richard Baker's press conference regarding the Amite River Basin flood tracking chart and the announcement of flood awareness month in Louisiana scheduled for April 1997. The chart, perhaps the first of its kind in the United States, was developed by Lawrence Callender of Dow Chemical and members of the USGS and NWS (Dave Smith). It was developed for local citizens and emergency personnel to help them monitor the latest river stage and predicted flood crest information along the Amite and Commite rivers and the Bayou Manchac. By comparing current stage and the predicted flood crest to the peak stages of previous floods, informed decisions concerning threats to property and life can be made. Several hundred thousand charts will be distributed to area citizens with local television affiliate WAFB Channel 9 generating additional charts as needed.
NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
WGRFC Brochure. Attached to this issue of Topics is a copy of a brochure produced by the Lower Colorado River Authority for the WGRFC Fort Worth, the Brazos River Authority, the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority, and its own corporate use. Information contained within the brochure describes the kinds of modernized services WGRFC is providing to its extended user community which includes a number of river authorities in Texas.
More Flood Tracking Chart News. Dave Reed (HIC, LMRFC) visited the NWSFO in Jackson, Mississippi, February 10-11, in part to coordinate with the USGS on their development of a flood tracking chart for the Pearl River drainage. The Jackson, Mississippi, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USGS offices are working on the chart in conjunction with the LMRFC and NWSFO Jackson. They (USGS) plan to have redundant databases so either office can provide the data to the public. Dissemination of the data is planned via Internet and fax. Internet users would be able to click on the location and receive the most recent data and the most recent NWS forecast.
Southern Hospitality. On February 24, LMRFC and NWSFO New Orleans opened their doors to a film crew from the Chamber of Commerce in Slidell, Louisiana. The Chamber is making a film on the quality of life in the city and wanted to include some footage from the NWS offices. The film will be made available to companies moving into the area.
Town Hall Meeting in Van Buren. Billy Olsen (HIC, ABRFC Tulsa) and Lans Rothfusz (MIC, NWSFO Tulsa) attended a public meeting on February 17 in Van Buren, Arkansas, called by U.S. representative Asa Hutchinson. The town hall-like meeting allowed members of the public to ask questions of NWS and Corps of Engineers (COE) representatives. The Tulsa COE member discussed the operation of reservoirs and lock and dams during flood situations. He emphasized the sharing of information between COE and NWS and the availability of detailed flood information on the COE and NWS Internet sites. Billy Olsen spoke about NWS operations, stressing that flood forecasting is an NWS responsibility, and that the COE can only give out forecasts the NWS has produced. This was apparently news to some folks who were under the impression that the COE flood forecasts were more accurate than NWS flood forecasts. The last member of the public to speak perhaps summarized the meeting best by saying it was the best meeting among the public, COE, and NWS that he had ever attended. Everyone was sharing information without "having their guard up the entire time."
LATE UAP NEWS. We have received information that NWSH will issue a "call" for the University Assignment Program for full- and part-time ("20/20") assignments beginning next fall. The announcement should go out to all offices within the next few weeks. It will take some time to process the applications, and final word of those selected may not be available until June. That means applicants should pay close attention to any deadlines imposed by universities for class registration and payment of fees.
Response time will be very short once the UAP announcement is distributed. The announcement issued last year will provide useful information to allow those interested to begin preparing their application packages. Contact SSD if there are any questions.
TROPICAL SEMINAR. Dr. Jack Bevens (NHC/Tropical Prediction Center) gave a seminar on hurricanes and operations of the TPC at Jackson State University in mid-February. Alan Gerard (FIC) and Rusty Pfost (SOO) at the nearby NWSFO attended, along with JSU students and faculty. Dr. Bevens discussed tropical meteorology, hurricanes in general, and specific hurricane prediction problems. One of the biggest forecast problems remains unexpected intensification as a storm approaches the coast. Using Hurricane Opal as an example, he explained the effect of concentric eye walls on hurricane strengthening. He also discussed the impact of Hurricane Andrew (1992) on south Florida and Louisiana and the latest theories about the incredible damage in Dade County. Ted Fujita has hypothesized that smaller tornado-like vortices and perhaps even a mesolow may have been responsible for some of the tremendous damage that occurred within the eye wall in some places but not others. We appreciate Dr. Bevens taking the time out of a personal trip to visit the university.
NESDIS VIRTUAL LABS. The NESDIS Regional and Mesoscale Modeling (RAMM) Group is collocated with the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) at Colorado State University. CIRA-RAMM's Web-based "virtual laboratory" now features a second case study: Hurricane Luis. This case concentrates on Hurricane Luis' behavior on September 6, 1995, when one-minute interval GOES imagery was available as a result of the GOES-9 in-orbit checkout. Links are available for both basic and advanced visitors. This case study also includes a "guest book" which allows visitors to the site (users) to record their presence and provide the RAMM team with feedback regarding the value of the information presented, along with their own interpretation of the imagery as it relates to the case study.
The virtual lab is at the address below. Additional information on this same subject is in SSD's section of the December 1, 1996, Topics.
GULF COAST WEATHER WORKSHOP. The USAF is hosting a workshop this week at Eglin AFB, Florida, which will focus on operational forecasting in the Gulf coastal area. The agenda contains topics ranging from WSR-88D applications, to winter weather, hurricane impact and severe weather, lightning and mesoscale modeling. In addition to meteorologists from various USAF detachments and university participants (FSU and Jackson State), NWS attendees will represent NWSFOs Jackson and New Orleans Area and NWSO Tallahassee. We appreciate the opportunity for training provided by this latest in a series of DoD forecasting workshops.
COMET OUTREACH PROGRAM. New and improved Web pages have been developed by COMET to provide information about current and past (completed) outreach projects. These are the multi-year Cooperative Projects and the one-year Partners Projects, many of which (in each category) have been--or are--under way involving Southern Region offices. On the Web pages (http://www.comet.ucar.edu/outreach/outreach.html) you will find a more extensive "What's New" section, as well as a new page, "Good Ideas, Success Stories, News." In addition, a great deal of work has gone into revising the tables that list all of the projects. There are links to abstracts for every current project and for many of the past projects.
We encourage anyone involved in COMET-sponsored projects (whether NWS employees or university partners) to become regular contributors to these pages. Just e:mail to COMET (attn: Vickie Johnson) anything which you believe fits in either category. The intent, of course, is to use Web pages as a means of sharing information about what is going on and what has been accomplished as part of the Outreach Program.
JACKSON STATE UNIVERSITY VISIT. Last week, I (Dan Smith) had the pleasure of visiting the JSU (Mississippi) meteorology program. The occasion was an invitation for a select National Advisory Committee, assembled by and including Dr. Rick Anthes (UCAR President), to review the JSU program. Also on the committee were Ken Crawford (former MIC/AM at NWSFO Norman) and Bill Bonner (UCAR/COMET, Director of NMC [ret.]). Paul Trotter (MIC, NWSFO New Orleans Area), Tice Wagner and Rusty Pfost (MIC and SOO, NWSFO Jackson) and I were invited to participate as "friends of the program." The committee will provide JSU officials with advice concerning direction and development of the meteorology program. Already a number of areas for further enhancement of interaction with the NWS seem possible.
The Jackson State University Bachelor of Science degree program in meteorology is unique in being the only such program among America's Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). The program has served to increase the participation of under-represented minorities in the field of meteorology; several JSU graduates are now with the NWS. The JSU department has grown markedly in terms of both faculty and students since it was initiated several years ago with the assistance of NOAA. Judging from the enthusiasm displayed last week by the current students, the NWS can only benefit if we are in a position to hire additional graduates.
NWSH ITEMS. Here are some items from the latest OSO staff notes. We have enclosed them to give you some idea of the projects that are going on at the headquarters level.
Data Product Requests for Change (RC). Six new data product RCs were received last week:
CRS Project. We continued working with each of the prototype sites to stabilize their systems. All four sites are up and running and are reasonably pleased with the system performance. All sites report improved stability with load 2.03. Operations training occurred during the week of February 10 at Oxnard and Birmingham. Reports from both sites were favorable, and on-site personnel are anxious to begin the operational test and evaluation (OT&E) on February 18. Headquarters test teams will be at both sites for the first week of the OT&E which will last until the end of March. Before the CommPower (CPE) trainers departed Oxnard and Birmingham, they installed the newest software load (version 2.05) along with new audio control panel (ACP) firmware. Birmingham reported that for the first time they were able to successfully keep CRS up overnight with the new load. This is consistent with the testing we have done in the ITB and verifies our conclusion that version 2.05 is a much more stable load.
The training at Charleston, West Virginia, and Pleasant Hill, Missouri, will begin on February 18, with the OT&E scheduled to commence on February 24. CPE training personnel installed the version 2.05 load and updated ACP firmware at those sites on February 17 to take advantage of the improved stability and simplified startup/shutdown procedure. Pleasant Hill reported a successful overnight run with version 2.05.
Even though the Training Center in Kansas City is not an official part of the OT&E, we installed a prototype CRS there because they are developing some computer-based training modules that we anticipate will be used as part of the phase II training package. Their personnel received training at the Pleasant Hill site. In addition, Joel Nathan conducted a training session February 27-28 at the Training Center to give their personnel an opportunity for more hands-on experience.
We received software version 2.05 and new ACP firmware in the ITB on February 10. The two major improvements in this load are the new and simplified startup/shutdown procedures and the updated DECTalk driver on the FEPs which cleans up the leftover files that were causing SNQM resource exhaustion. We had some initial problems with the new startup/shutdown procedures because new accounts were needed on the FEPs and because of a missing file. Eventually this problem was solved, and we were able to get the new procedures to work correctly. This is the main reason we are having the trainers install the new load at the OT&E sites, just in case they experience similar kinds of problems.
Testing of the 2.05 load in the ITB has gone very well. We ran two successful overnight tests broadcasting four voice messages on 13 transmitters. Prior to version 2.05, we had never been able to do this test successfully. There are still some problems with the new startup/shutdown procedures. While the new procedures are much more user friendly, they are not 100 per cent solid yet. When the system first comes up, messages that are input into the system are stored in the data base; but they do not broadcast for several minutes. Additionally, sometimes old messages are played at startup. The shutdown does not always work, and you are forced into using the old procedure to properly shut down the system.
Third Meeting to Discuss Garbling Problems at Midland. At the meeting on February 11, the participants were Jerald Dinges (OSO13), David Glotfelty (OSO23), Robert Beasley (OSD10), Rick Parry (Wx23), Larry France (OSO12), Frank Lucadamo (OSO13), Floyd Williams (OSO152), Fred Peters (OSO12), Bruce Marshak (SR41x4), Heiko Crowe (SRH41x43), Martin Garcia (SRH41x4), Wayne Patterson (ESA, NWSO Midland), and Richard Businger (ET, NWSO Midland).
Since the last meeting, the PACE hard drive broke down and was replaced. The new drive helped make the PACE system more stable with less booting needed. However, the problem with garbled data continues. Recently the ESA at Midland noticed that port 4 has not been receiving data. Though the modem was switched and the line checked, the problem continued. In addition, on February 10 port 3 received data that gave the error message "key not recognized." This points to a port, modem, or line problem. David Glotfelty suggested that a rocket port diagnostic test be run to test the ports and card. WSH will send a floppy and documentation to the NWSO to run this test. More than likely, the rocket port card will have to be replaced. In addition, modems of a better quality should be sent to the NWSO. The ESA will obtain them.
During the meeting, it was mentioned that the garbling problem seen at NWSO Midland has been occurring to some extent in other CONUS regions, with the exception of Central Region. For example, Eastern Region Headquarters has had garbling problems within the past week. It appears, however, that the NWSO Midland problem has been occurring over a longer period of time and primarily with ASOSs associated with the Midland PACE.
NOAA Weather Wire Service (NWWS). On February 10 Mike Sikorski (OSO15), Ken Putkovich and Tony Platt (OSO153), Howard Carlin (RCG), and Marguerite Brown (OA313) met with GTE to discuss the extension of the current NWWS contract and GTE's preliminary cost estimate. GTE indicated that the space segment and other system costs for the extension period might increase substantially. GTE was informed that the NWS would have extreme difficulty in covering a significant cost increase, and they were requested to look at various ways in which the system costs could be reduced. Marguerite requested that GTE submit a formal price proposal by February 27.
ASOS SP1 Present Weather Indicator (LEDWI) Calibration. Calibration on the SSMC2 ASOS SP1 unit was performed this week. With the EMWIN transmitter off, all calibration specifications were correct; when the LEDWI was returned to normal operation after the calibration, it indicated the correct current weather condition. However, when the EMWIN transmitter was powered on, the LEDWI indicated heavy rain. Dave Desrosiers (W/OSO31) was present during the calibration and reported a possible RF interference problem to the manufacture, SMI; they responded that the LEDWI is not RF-sensitive. The problem is being investigated.
AFOS STATIONID. Binary IDs have been assigned for APTs and added to the AFOS STATIONID for the following sites:
Central Region MKC KC1
Southern Region FTW SR2
An updated AFOS STATIONID file was sent to all sites during the week of February 10, along with a list of all APT for each region.
Model 1088 Dew Point Sensors. Earlier this month, there were four units of the 100 logistic replacement sensors rejected by the Instrument Inspection Unit of the NRC. The units were returned to NWSH for further evaluation and testing. The four units were found to have defective resistive temperature devices (RTDs) which are used by the sensor subassembly in the determination of dew point temperature. Replacement RTDs were ordered from Technical Services Laboratory, and arrangements have been made with EMCOR to return the units for the necessary repairs.
In addition, EMCOR is nearing completion of 30 Gold Mirror Model 1088 dew point sensor assemblies. When fully tested and calibrated, these units will undergo environmental testing at selected CONUS sites. Items to be monitored will be the gold mirror's durability against corrosion and the sensor body's conformal coating for corrosion protection of the circuit board itself. Several of these gold mirror units will be fielded with modified firmware which will determine the dew point temperature using a non-continuous calculation. This method of dew point measurement will activate the cooling circuitry of the mirror moments before the dew point calculation is made.
Site Lightning Sensor. All problems associated with system acceptance test of the single site lightning sensor have been resolved, and testing was successfully completed last week. We will begin OT&E testing of the sensor after receipt of the field modification kits and distribution to the OT&E sites.
Transition Power Maintenance Shelter (TPMS) Request for Proposal (RFP) Amendment. A response to offeror questions and an accompanying amendment to the RFP for acquisition of TPMS were issued on Friday, February 14. The package contained answers to each of the 105 questions submitted by various offerors and change pages for affected contract documents. Offeror proposals are due on February 28.
WSR-57 and WSR-74 Radar Discontinuance. Dan Post (Engineering Design Branch) and Pat Luciani (Maintenance Assurance Section) finalized plans to discontinue the present radar program. All WSR-57 radars are decommissioned, all requested parts have been returned to the NRC for reuse or disposal, and all WSR-57 support is now being terminated. Authorization has also been given for the removal and disposal of all hazardous materials being stored at the NRC. A few WSR-74 radars will remain until 1998, and one (Erie, Pennsylvania) possibly beyond. Planning is under way to ensure that the remaining radar is supported until its removal.
Repairable Back Orders Low. The number of repairables on back order dropped to 21 this week, the lowest it has been in a year. Nine are NEXRAD, but four are associated with kits that are currently being shipped, and three are still awaiting initial stocking. Five are ASOS items and include the new light source and new rain gage, and the other three are associated with ordering and stock problems.
Mike Darrah is looking into test equipment to check the back swing diode stacks and their related individual diodes (matched sets). The test set is manufactured by Quad-Tech and is called the Guardian 1870. A Quad-Tech representative will be in NRC to demonstrate the equipment. With all the controversy pertaining to these diode sets and stacks, it seems prudent to investigate this equipment for possible future use in Q.C.
Factory Support for AFOS Printer Plotter to End. Tom Snowdy (Maintenance Assurance Section) was notified by David Moore (Xerox Engineering Services [XES]) that Xerox is about to stop supporting the V-80. A life-time buy is being prepared for items stocked in NLSC. The AFOS Repair Unit has provided Tom with a list of items NRC purchases directly (sole source) from Xerox.
cc:MAIL OVER FRAME RELAY. One-third of the Southern Region WFOs are now using the new Lotus NTROUTER program to exchange cc:Mail messages over the Frame Relay every 15 minutes. This is possible because these offices have upgraded to the latest Windows NT 4.0 Server software. This upgrade brings the Windows 95 look and feel to Windows NT systems. The task bar is a definite plus when determining what applications are running and being able to click a mouse button to quickly view them.
BUDGET INFORMATION VIA cc:MAIL. Leon Minton created the software which sends individually tailored supply, travel, and training budget information to each of the WFO/RFC offices by Bruce Beehler. When Bruce creates his reports, he can now click a mouse button and away they go. This eliminates the two hours of manual effort formerly required to send these reports.
FACILITIES ISSUES AND PROGRAMS. It's been a long time since Facilities last contributed an article to Southern Topics. We are currently working on several issues and programs at this time. The Transition Power System (TPS) for all RDA sites is getting closer. The rotary generator and associated shelter will provide UPS power at the RDA site and additional electronic equipment storage space. The rotary generator will eliminate the need to run the generator when severe weather is approaching the RDA area.
The Request for Proposal for the TPS is due February 28. I expect the installation of the first shelters will happen sometime this summer. When the Regional Office receives a delivery schedule, we will provide the offices with the information. At this time we are unsure what the region, ESA, RMS, and SFT workload will be during installation. We assume the successful contractor will provide and install the entire system, and our personnel will act as coordinators and inspectors.
RELAXED RESTRICTION TO TRAVEL AND PURCHASING. Facilities has been on restricted travel and purchasing for some time now. These restrictions have recently been relaxed. SFTs are free to take care of their maintenance requests. As some of you know, we've requested a list of projects in anticipation of year-end money becoming available. When we receive the project requests, we will prioritize the projects and fund as many of them as money and time permit. This year we would like to focus on systems furniture for the operations area to complement the AWIPS equipment delivery.
MASC SECURITY WITH WFOs. MASC recently surveyed security at several WFOs. We've been informed that NOAA intends to fund and install exterior building camera and monitor systems for all NWS-owned facilities. The details of the monitoring system and its capabilities are unknown at this time. We've also learned that NOAA intends to provide and install security alarm systems at all owned facilities. We are asking questions about maintenance of the system, if the security alarm systems will be monitored by an off-site security contractor, and who will pay for the maintenance and monitoring contracts. When we find out more about the program we will let each WFO know and solicit their input and direction.
NWSFO ATLANTA. WCM Barry Gooden attended a Career Day at the Griffin Technical Institute. Although Barry attended with the idea of its being a typical career day selling a career in meteorology and the NWS, it turned out to be a very different approach to careers through the recognition of diversity. Displays were set up of what could be termed "non-traditional" careers.
There was a very diverse group in attendance. Talents ranging from singing, playing the piano and saxophone, to expertise in genealogy and history (local and national) were demonstrated. Senior citizen groups and human service agencies were represented. The day was divided into two sessions, morning and evening. In addition to having booths set up, presentations were made. The diversity in song was presented with religious, gospel, and spiritual singing. A 15-year-old piano prodigy accompanied an individual who did two selections, one in Italian and another a romantic song often heard at weddings. Another individual gave the history of a famous local, John Henry Holiday, best known to the world as Dr. Holiday. A lesson on genealogy was given discussing ways to get started and how to keep and maintain records. One of the faculty members gave a recitation of two poems written by Robert Frost. Another presenter displayed items of dress and utility, and spoke on the Native American culture that was a part of the central U.S. A representative from the Older American Council (OAC) of middle Georgia illustrated the richness of knowledge and wisdom possessed by our senior citizens.
The presentation and displays showed just how rich we are as a nation and as a people. All we need to do is open our eyes to the diversity that surrounds us. Barry found the Career Day/Diversity Recognition Day to be very rewarding, interesting, and a very different approach to exhibiting careers and professions.
NWSO HOUSTON. Robert VanHoven (Asian American Employment Program Manager) reports that NWSO Houston/Galveston has been busy reaching out to students in southeast Texas. Charles Roeseler gave a career talk to 80 students in San Jacinto Elementary School. Greg Waller gave a career day talk to 107 students at Parker Elementary School. Brian Kyle provided a talk about meteorology to about 100 students at Morgan Elementary School. Robert participated as a judge in a science fair conducted at Madison High School. Robert also provided several career talks to nearly 400 students at Friendswood High School.
EEO/DIVERSITY HOME PAGE. José Garíca (Regional Diversity Coordinator) and Robert Slattery (forecaster, Amarillo) have developed an EEO/Diversity home page available on the Internet under the Administrative Management Division. Refer to this page for the latest in news concerning EEO and Diversity.
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