UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
May 1, 1999
SEVERE WEATHER OUTBREAK. Late in the afternoon of May 3, 1999, violent thunderstorms developed rapidly in southwest Oklahoma. As the evening progressed, the storms spawned a number of killer tornadoes which devastated communities southwest, west, and north of Oklahoma City, and caused major destruction in the heavily populated Oklahoma City/Norman area as well. Moore, Midwest City, and Dell City, and the southern part of Oklahoma City itself were particularly hard hit. The storms continued to the east and northeast later in the evening causing damage in northeastern Oklahoma. On the following day, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes caused damage in north and northeast Texas.
Our offices in Norman, Tulsa, Fort Worth and Shreveport provided outstanding life-saving services during this outbreak of severe storms and tornadoes. At times during the event, the staff at Norman were themselves in harm's way, but in the finest tradition of NWS employees placing service above self, they continued to provide a steady stream of warnings, statements, and other critical information. In Tulsa, the electronics staff placed themselves at risk to undertake emergency repairs to the Tulsa WSR-88D after it suffered a major hardware failure on the morning of the outbreak. Despite severe storms and lightning in the immediate vicinity, the technicians continued to work on the radar to return it to operational status as rapidly as possible.
The same synoptic scale system triggered severe weather in Tennessee on the evening of May 5. Again, NWS employees provided accurate warnings in advance of a killer tornado. The NWSO Nashville issued a tornado warning with a lead time of approximately 20 minutes in advance of a tornado that struck Perry County, killing three people.
Although there was tragic loss of life in Oklahoma, Texas and Tennessee, one has but to look at the destruction in the storm areas to realize the actions taken by dedicated NWS employees at all the offices involved in providing warnings directly contributed to saving a countless number of other lives. The Governor of Oklahoma publically expressed his appreciation for the fine job done by the NWS and its employees, and President Clinton added his praise for the NWS when he visited the devastated area. We add our own commendation to all the employees at Norman, Tulsa, Fort Worth, Shreveport and Nashville for a job well done.
NWS STRATEGIC PLAN FOR THE 21st CENTURY. During the recent NWS Corporate Board Meeting, we spent considerable time discussing the NWS Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan is nearing completion and will set the path for our agency through year 2005. The Plan establishes ambitious goals for us to achieve during the next six years-goals that are essential for the continued health of the agency.
Many of us remember the previous NWS Strategic Plan that established the foundation for the current Modernization and Associated Restructuring. That plan was developed in the late 1980s and guided the NWS through the present. As the modernization nears completion, we need a vision that will take us into the early part of the 21st Century and lay the foundation for operations, products, and services 10 to 20 years from now. In short, we must take advantage of our new technology and rapidly advancing science to ensure the benefits of the NWS modernization are passed on to the American people.
In future issues of Southern Topics I will share the NWS vision for 2005, the critical goals and objectives for Southern Region, and the process that will ensure our staffs have input in meeting the performance measures. Your help is essential to successfully completing the Strategic Plan. Some items in the Plan you will like; others may appear demanding. To ensure a healthy NWS in the 21st Century, each of us will have to put the good of the agency above personal preferences. Our long-range goal is to ensure an atmosphere where NWS employees feel valued as team members and are proud of their service to the American people.
NOAA WEATHER RADIO CONTINUES TO SAVE LIVES. In addition to saving lives during the severe weather events mentioned above, personal accounts credit NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) with saving lives in southern Mississippi when an F3 tornado tore through three counties on Wednesday, April 14. The damage path from this storm was 25 miles long and up to a half mile wide.
Interviews appearing on a Jackson television station revealed two compelling survivor stories. Both individuals say they took shelter after hearing the warnings issued by NWSFO Jackson on their NWR receivers.
Two days before the storm -- on Monday, April 12 -- Regional Maintenance Specialists Larry Tennison and Barry Brodnax with NWSO Mobile ET Randy Przbylski conducted an extensive system calibration of the Melba, Mississippi, NWR transmitter. It was this transmitter that broadcast the warnings to the tornado survivors.
The work by Larry, Barry and Randy optimized the performance of the Melba transmitter at a very critical time, highlighting once again that nothing we do is routine. This is a clear case of the best mission-critical result of NWS teamwork. Congratulations to all involved. You truly saved lives.
As of the end of April, AWIPS was installed at all but four Southern Region offices. NWSFO Tulsa and NWSO Corpus Christi have been upgraded to Build 4.2 as part of the Operations Testing and Evaluation process. This OT & E process will begin around May 19, with the focus on evaluating the ability of AWIPS to replace AFOS. Build 4.2 is scheduled to be deployed to all sites by the end of June.
PRODUCT OF THE MONTH. This month marks the beginning of a new section of Southern Topics where we'll highlight particularly well-written products, plus offer tips and suggestions for improving our products. Obviously, it's impossible to review every product issued by each WFO, RFC and CWSU, so we ask for your help. If you have a product which you think merits special attention or which could serve as an example to other offices, please let us know. We're also interested in tips, suggestions or questions you may have regarding our products and services. Submit your ideas to Richard Smith, Performance and Evaluation Meteorologist.
In this issue we highlight two products. The first is a short term forecast written by Patrick McCullough, senior forecaster at NWSO San Angelo:
...A TORNADO WATCH REMAINS IN EFFECT UNTIL 10 PM...
STRONG TO SEVERE STORMS LOCATED ALONG A MCCAMEY TO MIDLAND LINE AT
6 PM WILL MOVE EAST AT AROUND 30 MPH...LIKELY REACHING THE WESTERN
BORDER OF IRION AND STERLING COUNTIES BY 7 PM. THESE STORMS SHOULD
REACH THE COMMUNITIES OF MERTZON...STERLING CITY...AND BARNHART BY
730 PM. WITH THE THREAT OF LARGE HAIL...DAMAGING WINDS...AND
TORNADOES...RESIDENTS ACROSS THE WESTERN CONCHO VALLEY ARE URGED TO
STAY ALERT FOR POSSIBLE WARNINGS AS THESE STORMS APPROACH.
This short term forecast is an excellent example of blending current radar information with a detailed forecast. The specific times and towns to be affected add detail that makes it easy for the listener/reader to picture the expected weather. This type of specific, detailed short term forecast is critical during severe weather situations and serves as a bridge between the watch and the warning.
The next featured product is a severe weather statement written by David Andra, SOO at NWSFO Norman:
SEVERE WEATHER STATEMENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NORMAN OK
758 PM CDT WED APR 21 1999
AT 758 PM CDT...DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED A DEVELOPING TORNADO
APPROACHING SOUTHWEST SECTIONS OF ENID. PERSONS IN ENID SHOULD TAKE
COVER NOW! THE STORM WAS MOVING EAST AND LIKELY CONTAINS HAIL TO
THE SIZE OF GOLFBALLS OR LARGER.
DOPPLER RADAR INDICATED THAT A TORNADO MAY FORM AT ANYTIME. TAKE
COVER NOW. ABANDON MOBILE HOMES AND VEHICLES. MOVE TO AN INTERIOR
ROOM OR HALLWAY ON THE LOWEST FLOOR. STAY AWAY FROM WINDOWS.
LAT...LON 3637 9812 3625 9796 3624 9773 3628 9748
This is one of several excellent severe weather statements (SWSs) written on April 21. In this case, a supercell was approaching Enid, Oklahoma. Spotters were around the storm and provided excellent reports. NWSFO Norman was issuing SWS's every five to ten minutes as new information became available. The SWS is extremely important during warnings and should be used to provide customers with rapid, detailed updates to warnings in progress. You will see an increased emphasis on more frequent, informative severe weather statements in the coming weeks...Stay tuned.
WARNGEN DOCUMENTATION PROVIDED. Last month all offices should have received "A Guide for Warning Operations Using WarnGen," which contains material useful for set-up and operation of that application's program on AWIPS. WarnGen is a powerful tool which can make the process of issuing a warning much easier, but the program is not perfect. Some slight modifications are probably needed before using it in real-time. The guide, written by Richard Smith (MSD), offers suggestions based on experiences at NWSFO Tulsa, where WarnGen has been the primary warning tool for several months. AWIPS Build 4.2 will require additional slight modifications to WarnGen.
NOAA WEATHER RADIO
NWR Web Site Now On-Line. Tim Brice, forecaster at NWSO El Paso, recently completed an interactive Southern Region NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) Web page. This page allows visitors to graphically view all NWR transmitter sites across the region. Information available from the page includes transmitter location, frequency, power output, call letters, and programming office. Visitors to this Web page may view broadcast service areas for each transmitter and County Warning Areas for each WFO. Links to each WFO's NWR Web page are also included. A link to the interactive NWR page can be found on the Southern Region home page http://www.srh.noaa.gov.
NWR Promotional Campaign in Tulsa CWA. NWSFO Tulsa recently conducted an NWR promotional campaign jointly with KJRH-TV (NBC affiliate in Tulsa) and the Tulsa Area Emergency Management Agency (TAEMA). At the informal suggestion of the Tulsa NWS office, KJRH ran a two-month promotion called "Operation Weathersafe." Viewers were encouraged to request $10 discount coupons, provided by Radio Shack, from the television station. Lans Rothfusz (MIC) and Mike McCool (TAEMA director) gave several TV interviews on the importance of weather radios. By the end of the campaign, over 1,000 coupons had been sent and area Radio Shacks were overrun with requests for NWR-SAME receivers. It was a great success!
NEWS FROM THE CENTER WEATHER SERVICE UNITS
The following is a report of recent noteworthy activities at CWSUs across the Region:
The Southern Region-led RTA Replacement Team continues to work toward design and implementation of both interim and end-state solutions to the RTA replacement issue. Various options are being evaluated and a prototype system is being constructed for testing this summer at CWSU Fort Worth. The team, which comprises nine representatives from various regions, field offices, and NWSH, will meet in Fort Worth at the end of May to evaluate the prototype system and establish required data sets for the CWSU program.
A national CWSU conference, at a location yet to be determined, is planned for late this summer. The conference will serve as a forum to bring national, regional, and field personnel (from both the WFOs and CWSUs) together with customers to discuss important issues related to the CWSU program. A preliminary agenda will be forwarded to the NWSH Office of Meteorology for review by mid-May.
CWSU Albuquerque. Red May, unit meteorologist, received accolades from the Traffic Management Unit (TMU) regarding a recent adverse weather event in the Albuquerque Center airspace. Paraphrasing a message by Bill Gonzales, an FAA supervisor at the Center:
During the day shift on April 2, there was weather in the Phoenix area. Red was forecasting the weather to remain bad throughout the shift with a good possibility for icing. Based on his forecast and subsequent icing reports, Albuquerque Center was able to convince senior traffic personnel to institute a ground delay program (GDP) at Phoenix International Airport (PHX). Central Flow wanted to cancel the GDP because of an improving forecast from airline weather personnel, but Red advised the weather would most likely remain poor, and, in fact, worsen around 1900 UTC. Based on this input, the decision to cancel the GDP was postponed. At 1930 UTC, the weather did indeed worsen. We owe a great deal of gratitude to Red for his professional and accurate information. Without it, we might have been forced into a very untenable position with high traffic volume and low acceptance rates.
Congratulations on a job well done, Red!
CWSU Atlanta. John Jones, NWS Deputy Director, visited Atlanta Center and the CWSU recently. During his visit he attended the CWSU's morning briefing, reviewed the unit's operations, and met with the air traffic manager and TMU operations manager. Items discussed during his visit included the draft TMU requirements document, SOO interactions with the CWSU, and the need for AWIPS functionality in the CWSU.
CWSU Fort Worth. The CWSU was visited by a large group of scientists and senior officials involved in the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) project. They were interested in how the ITWS is utilized in the ARTCC and CWSU operations.
MIC Tom Hicks traveled to Harris Corporation to take part in the Factory Acceptance Testing of the next generation of the Weather and Radar Processor (WARP) system. The testing went well and it appears that WARP's radar products will be truly incredible. Access to all radar products will be available, including mosaics of echo tops, layered products, and severe weather features. Tom is also a member of an independent test team that will evaluate the new build of WARP prior to its deployment. Tom will be traveling to all the CWSUs in the region to assess technological capability and discuss standardizing operations.
CWSU Houston. The third in a series of TMU/CWSU training sessions was provided to a group of Continental Airlines dispatchers on April 14. Vince Carreras, MIC, and Leslie Petersen, unit meteorologist, visited Continental Airlines on April 22 to provide the dispatcher training. The session lasted five hours and was followed by a tour of the Continental facilities.
CWSU Memphis. Tom Amis, MIC, has been on temporary assignment at SRH to help facilitate activities of the national RTA-Replacement Team. In addition to his important work on the RTA Team, Tom continues in his role as the NWS national representative to the WARP program.
NEW ORLEANS NWSFO SUPPORTS DOT CONFERENCE. In April, NWSFO New Orleans MIC, Paul Trotter, gave a presentation on hurricane prediction at the Department of Transportation (DOT) Tri-Regional Emergency Operation Training Conference. Approximately 80 people attended, including the Louisiana State Emergency Coordinator. Paul used several electronic presentations shared by Steve Letro, MIC at NWSO Jacksonville, John Guiney, WCM at the Tropical Prediction Center, and NWSFO New Orleans staff members. Topics included information on the 1998 hurricane season, El Niño-related impacts, local evacuation issues, and the 1999 hurricane outlook. The presentation was followed by a question and answer session.
NWSFO ALBUQUERQUE HOSTS INTERNATIONAL AVIATION GROUP. On April 15, an International Aviation Safety Inspection class, comprising safety officers from all over the world, toured NWSFO Albuquerque. Kerry Jones and MIC Charlie Liles led the tour, and fielded numerous questions about how the NWS does its job and measures its performance. The NWSFO staff, which provides numerous tours to school groups each year, considered this tour to be one of the most interesting.
FIRE WEATHER TRANSFER NEWS. Work on the next group of offices involved in the transfer of fire weather operations will be accelerating over the next few weeks as the external notification process commences. The scheduled date of the next transfers is July 15 and will include the Midland/Odessa, El Paso, San Angelo, Lake Charles, Nashville, Knoxville/Tri-Cities, Shreveport and San Juan offices.
SYMPOSIUM ON FIRE AND FOREST METEOROLOGY - CALL FOR PAPERS. The Third Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology, co-sponsored by the AMS and Society of American Foresters, will be held next January as part of the AMS Annual Meeting in Long Beach, California.
The call for papers can be found in the AMS Bulletin, and July 1, 1999 is the deadline for abstracts. October 1, 1999 is the deadline for final manuscripts. The theme of the symposium will be to share experiences, new techniques, and technologies in areas of: coupled fire-atmospheric modeling; use of atmospheric gridded model output for short-term fire planning; use of weather forecasts for prescribed burning; smoke management techniques and air quality mitigation related to fire policy and EPA standards; mid- and long-range forecasting for fire control and fire planning; operational fire weather forecasting techniques; and applications for operational fire behavior assessment and forecasts. For more information on the symposium, please refer to the latest edition of the AMS Bulletin or visit the AMS Web site http://www.ametsoc.org.
NWSO MELBOURNE HOSTS FIRE WEATHER COORDINATION MEETING. On April 22, NWSO Melbourne hosted a fire weather coordination meeting with local, county, and state forestry, land management, and wildlife refuge personnel. The objectives of the meeting were to identify issues and discuss procedures for maximizing the services the NWSO can provide to its fire customers. Feedback from attendees indicates the NWSO satisfied those objectives in organizing an interesting and informative meeting.
NATIONAL IMET WORKSHOP. Five employees of the Southern Region were on hand at the national Incident Meteorologist (IMET) training workshop held April 5-9 in Boise, Idaho. Chuck Maxwell (NWSFO Albuquerque), Greg Meffert (NWSFO Little Rock), Jim Noffsinger (NWSFO Atlanta), Mike Edmondston (NWSO Tulsa), and David Rittenberry (NWSO Tampa Bay), received instruction on deploying and operating the new Advanced Technological Meteorology Unit (ATMU). They also received training on operating new state-of-the-art laptop computers configured to national fire weather program standards. These laptops are part of the IMET arsenal of support equipment which they will carry to the fire location. Compatible cell phones are presently on order and should be distributed to each IMET soon.
RETIREMENT ANNOUNCED. Jerry Curnutt, Development and Operations Hydrologist at the Southeast RFC, has announced he plans to retire on May 28 after more than 35 years of government service. He began his government career in 1964 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1974, he transferred to the NWS as a hydrologist at the Lower Mississippi RFC. In 1976, Jerry joined the SERFC as a procedure development hydrologist before working up to deputy hydrologist-in-charge and ultimately the development and operations hydrologist.
During his career, Jerry played a key role in the development of the NWS River Forecast System. Jerry also participated as a guest hydrology instructor at the NWS Training Center. Jerry has been commended several times in his career, recently sharing in a DOC Bronze Medal presented to the SERFC for its performance during the El Niño floods of 1997/1998, and a Silver Medal for performance during Tropical Storm Alberto in 1994.
Jerry and his family plan to continue to reside in Georgia. Jerry, thanks for all your contributions to the NWS Hydrology program over the years.
ADVANCED HYDROLOGIC PREDICTION SYSTEM. The NWS Advanced Hydrologic Prediction System (AHPS) is a new initiative which will help us achieve our vision of becoming America's "No Surprise Weather Service." The NWS field offices interact daily with those who will benefit from this forecast technology. We urge you to use every opportunity to let the public, local and state officials, and other customers know about the benefits AHPS will provide.
We have included as a technical attachment this month a press release issued by NWS Headquarters. More information, and a set of briefing materials, can be found on the Office of Hydrology's Web page: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/ahps.
BIG BEND FIELD TRIP. Southern Region HSD Chief Jerry Nunn accompanied NWSFO Lubbock senior service hydrologist John Lipe and NWSO Midland hydrologic focal point Steve Drillette on a field trip to the Big Bend country of southwest Texas at the end of March. The two field hydrologic program managers were making one of their periodic visits to maintain and update the documentation for various river gauging sites along the Rio Grande and its tributaries in the area. The trip provided a unique opportunity for Jerry to experience firsthand the implications of maintaining a hydrologic service program in a remote, wild area such as the Big Bend. Thanks to John and Steve for extending the opportunity to travel with them.
OTHER FIELD OFFICE VISITS PLANNED. The HSD staff plan additional field office visits during the upcoming months. Hydrologic program manager Bob Carle will be traveling to the Southeast RFC in late May to participate in a locally sponsored WHFS workshop and a Corps of Engineers/NWS coordination meeting. Deputy HSD Chief Ben Weiger and Chief HSD Jerry Nunn plan to visit field offices later in the summer. We will keep you posted as plans are finalized.
HYDROLOGIC PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT STANDARDS. Ben Weiger attended a Hydrology Professional Development Standards workshop in Boulder, Colorado in April. The participants addressed, among other issues, training programs necessary to ensure NWS hydrologists meet baseline proficiency standards which will ultimately be defined. Expect additional announcements on the PDS in the coming weeks.
QPE WORKSHOP. HSD Chief Jerry Nunn and West Gulf RFC HAS forecaster Greg Story attended a Quantitative Precipitation Estimation workshop in Boulder in April. Participants provided presentations on various precipitation estimation techniques using satellite imagery and radar reflectivity.
WSOM E-CHAPTER UPDATES. WSOM Chapters E-11 and E-21 on RFC and WFO operations, respectively, have received regional concurrence, and should be in print soon.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Tabletop Dam Break Exercise. On March 25, Al Hong (service hydrologist) and Steve Piltz (WCM) from NWSO Tulsa, and Tracy Howieson, hydrologist from the Arkansas-Red Basin RFC, attended a tabletop dambreak exercise for the Fort Smith Dam near Mountainburg, Arkansas. The exercise was sponsored by the city of Fort Smith Utilities Department.
In the next few years, construction will occur on the Fort Smith Dam to increase its storage capacity for future water needs. There is concern about a possible dam breach or failure during the construction period. A review of the dam's emergency action plan revealed that the NWSO and RFC were low in priority to be notified by the dam owner. After some discussion about the NWS's responsibility for issuing dam failure-related flood warnings, the city agreed to change the notification priority for the NWS. Nice work, folks.
Mid-South HSAs Deal With Flooding In March. The month of March saw the Jackson, Shreveport, New Orleans and Little Rock offices issue over 400 River Flood Warnings and Statements. Rain across the region averaged three to nearly ten inches. Widespread agricultural lowland flooding was observed, but damage was minimal as spring planting had not started in most areas.
Flooding damage was a bit more significant in the New Orleans HSA as several bridges were damaged or destroyed by scouring and debris striking the supports. The Louisiana Highway 10 bridge also severely damaged a USGS gauge and Date Control Platform as the middle two spans toppled into the Amite River. The last available gauge readings indicated the Amite River near Darlington sustained a rise of 15 ft in 36 hours.
Just the Opposite in Florida. NWSO Tampa Bay reports the International Airport has received less than one inch of rainfall during five of the last six months. This is the first time this has happened since 1900, and it's the second driest six-month period this century for the area, with the period of October through March 1948 being the driest.
NEWS FROM THE RIVER FORECAST CENTERS
LOWER MISSISSIPPI RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Dambreak Seminar. Marty Pope, LMRFC senior hydrologist, recently presented a training seminar on the dam catalog, the simplified dambreak program, and actions to be taken when a dam failure is reported. During the next six months all LMRFC hydrologists and HAS forecasters will, under Marty's direction, run the simplified dambreak program on a dam to simulate a failure.
Shreveport Seminar. LMRFC hydrologist Ethan Jolly made a presentation on modernized RFC and HAS operations to the NWSO Shreveport staff on March 24. Ethan and service hydrologist Craig Ross also visited some of the gauging sites in the Shreveport HSA. LMRFC plans to visit all HSA offices by the end of this fiscal year and present modernized HAS and RFC operations to increase understanding and improve coordination between the RFC and the WFOs.
FEMA Damage Assessment Meeting. On April 12-16, Randy Rieman, senior hydrologist and soon-to-be program manager in the Office of Hydrology's Hydrologic Services Division, attended a meeting between the NWS and FEMA to discuss estimating flood damages during a flood event. FEMA is developing a program to estimate flood damages in real-time to assist in mitigation of flood disasters.
Louisiana Flood Plain Managers Meet. On April 15, HIC Dave Reed made a presentation on LMRFC operations and NWS hydrologic services to the Louisiana Flood Plain Managers Association in Covington, Louisiana. About 70 flood plain managers from all over the state were in attendance.
WEST GULF RIVER FORECAST CENTER
Coordination Meeting. On April 12, Greg Story, HAS forecaster, visited with meteorologists and hydrologists at the Denver office of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). Greg gave a seminar explaining the mission and functions of the RFC, and described the software programs used in developing the WSR-88D Stage III precipitation estimates and QPFs.
The River Systems and Meteorology Group at the USBR is a customer of the products generated by the WGRFC HAS forecasters. They use the WSR-88D Stage III precipitation estimates and QPFs for evapotranspiration studies and water usage plans, such as irrigation. Thanks for your outreach activity, Greg.
HUNTSVILLE COLLABORATION. Forecasters at NWSFO Birmingham and NWSOs Nashville and Morristown are working with researchers at NASA's Global Hydrology and Climate Center (GHCC) in Huntsville with the goal of improving warm season QPFs. Bill Lapenta and fellow researchers at GHCC are developing a new scheme for assimilating satellite-estimated skin temperatures into the MM5 numerical weather prediction model. Results so far show promise for the summer convective season. The MM5 is run twice each day and experimental products are made available via the Internet for potential operational use. A link to the GHCC MM5 Web site is available on the SSD Numerical Weather Prediction Links page http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ssd/NWPMODEL/HTML/nwplinks.htm.
In support of a QPF exercise next summer, Dr. Lapenta plans to run a 12 km version of the MM5 with full data assimilation. NWSO Birmingham forecasters will use the model guidance to produce experimental graphical QPF products which will be verified against conventional precipitation forecasts. In addition to the model output, Dr. Lapenta will also share information with the NWSO Birmingham staff regarding 4-D data assimilation, and provide expert guidance on the interpretation of mesoscale model output. The GHCC researchers will, in turn, benefit from feedback provided by the forecasters. This project is seen as the first step toward a wider collaboration between NWS offices and members of the GHCC, which includes the Marshall Space Flight Center and the University of Alabama at Huntsville.
SATELLITE IMAGE BACKUP SUPPORT FOR EASTERN REGION. On April 8, the NOAAPORT Receive System (NRS) at Eastern Region HQ crashed. (The regional NRS's are used to supply operational satellite imagery to those offices which have yet to receive their AWIPS equipment.) With severe weather occurring in the Eastern Region, they contacted Southern Region SSD. We were able to quickly begin sending substitute imagery from our NRS to ERH, via our dedicated data lines to NWSH, which they then transmitted to their field offices.
ONLINE FIRE WEATHER BRIEFING MATERIAL. With fire danger extremely high in parts of Florida, Texas and New Mexico, Southern Region SSD prepared a Fire Weather Briefing Web page for use by emergency managers and the general public. This page, which is updated frequently, includes a narrative discussion and links to relevant graphics for each state. The page may be accessed from the Southern Region home page http://www.srh.noaa.gov by selecting Weather Links --> Fire Weather Links --> Fire Weather Briefings.
MODELING THE SEA BREEZE ALONG THE SOUTH TEXAS COAST. Using the RAMS model which was developed at Colorado State and now distributed by Aster, Inc., Mark Jackson, former SOO at NWSO Brownsville, was able to develop some unique perspectives on the sea breeze which plays a significant role in the Brownsville area of responsibility. Mark worked with researchers at NOAA's Forecast Systems Lab to install and adapt the mesoscale model on the NWSO Science and Applications (SAC) workstation. Diagnostic studies revealed important characteristics about the roles played by prevailing winds, coastal orography, and mountain-valley flows associated with the nearby Sierra Madre Oriental range in northern Mexico. This information will help increase accuracy in the local forecasts. A technical attachment this month provides more details. Mark has since transferred to Honolulu and is now the Regional Scientist for the NWS Pacific Region. Shawn Bennett, new SOO at Brownsville, will continue and expand on Mark's work, using the new workstation version of NCEP Eta model.
HAIL SEMINAR. On May 6, Kyle Bellue presented a seminar at Texas A&M reporting on the performance of NSSL's WSR-88D Hail Detection Algorithm (HDA) for multicell storms over the coastal Southern Plains. This research is part of the design and validation of a multi-sensor damaging wind algorithm, and it examines specifically how the HDA performed in over 20 different multicell storm systems over coastal areas of the Southern Region. The NSSL developed the HDA using data primarily from the Central Plains, where many of the thunderstorms are supercellular. The Texas A&M study addresses the regional and storm morphological influences on the algorithm performance.
The seminar was part of the CIAMS series. Incidentally, Kyle Bellue is the son of Dan Bellue (Spaceflight Meteorology Group), and his MS work has been supported by the USAF and the NWS through an NSSL-CIAMS contract to CIAMS Fellow Mike Biggerstaff.
VISITOR BRIEFINGS. On March 26, Prof. David Legates and 14 of his students visited NWSFO/RFC New Orleans. Dr. Legates is a member of the Southern Regional Climate Center and also teaches classes in Environmental Hydrology and Radar Hydrometeorology at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. Jeff Graschel and Mike Koziara did a fine job explaining WSR-88D operations and office procedures to the visitors, as attested in the very nice letter received by the offices.
ONLINE TRAINING ON AWIPS RADAR FUNCTIONALITY. The OSF Operations Training Branch continues to expand the online instruction "From the PUP to AWIPS- A Transition in Using Radar Data." This is Instructional Component (IC) 5.16 to the Professional Development Series (PDS) which deals with Integrated Sensor Training. The training is intended to provide a transition from the WSR-88D PUP to AWIPS Build 4.1 in displaying and manipulating radar data. A link to the online training is available on the SSD Training and Professional Development Web page http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ssd/html/training.htm.
SPIN-UP TRAINING. NWSOs are actively pursuing training in many areas, in preparation for assuming full forecast responsibilities as part of service transfer. For example:
Lead forecaster John Gordon at NWSO Nashville recently provided a training seminar for the staff in order to share knowledge and information he gained at the OSF Warning Decision Making Workshop in Boulder. John then continued with a discussion of a paper he has prepared ("A Comprehensive Severe Weather Checklist and Reference Guide") which assembles severe weather forecasting knowledge learned over many years, including a summary of critical values for important severe weather forecasting parameters. As part of the same session, the NWSO staff also discussed use of AWIPS and issues related to local adaptation of WarnGen. Quality control of zone forecasts, and the possibility of local modifications to forecast criteria (wind chill advisories/warnings, wind advisories) were also covered.
INFORMATION ON U.S. NAVY'S NOGAPS MODEL. Recent asbestos problems at NCEP's Environmental Modeling Center brought to light that, should there ever be a major failure in the EMC's computer systems, the Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction System (NOGAPS), run at the Fleet Numeric Center in Monterrey, California, would provide backup model guidance for NWS field offices. All NWS forecasters should therefore be familiar with the NOGAPS model.
Information on NOGAPS is available through the Southern Region's Numerical Weather Prediction Links Web page http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ssd/nwpmodel/html/nwplinks.htm and on the MetEd Web site http://www.meted.ucar.edu. These contain information on the latest operational version of the NOGAPS, including model characteristics, tendencies, and performance statistics. Links are included for accessing real-time NOGAPS forecast data and additional documentation.
COMET'S TENTH ANNIVERSARY. In April, 1989 the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) was established. Attached to this issue of Southern Topics is a letter from the Dr. Tim Spangler, Director of COMET, which summarizes COMET's growth and activities over the past ten years.
HIGHLIGHTS OF APRIL 15 CAFTI MEETING. The future of the NGM and NGM-based Model Output Statistics (MOS), the development of AVN-based MOS, and changes to NCEP's Eta and Global Spectral models were all discussed during a recent CAFTI meeting. Highlights of the meeting are included in a technical attachment.
DON'T BLAME IT ON EL NIÑO OR LA NIÑA. The NWS Corporate Board recently requested examples of field office use of climate information when briefing our customers. As one might expect, the response was overwhelming. A technical attachment this month includes a small sample of the responses we received. It indicates the important role played by our field offices in accurately communicating the recent advances and limitations in climate prediction.
INITIATING A GOES RAPID SCAN OPERATION. All field offices are reminded they may request GOES Rapid Scan Operation (RSO). A GOES RSO is a mode in which the satellite provides images over the conterminous U.S. eight times per hour instead of the usual four times per hour. All AWIPS sites, and those field offices receiving their operational imagery via the regional Frame Relay network, are able to take full advantage of an RSO to more frequently monitor rapidly changing conditions. Because the imagery is broadcast over the AWIPS Satellite Broadcast network, every GOES-East site receives more frequent imagery during a GOES-East RSO, and every GOES-West site receives the more frequent imagery during a GOES-West RSO. Since it takes time to assemble the RSO requests and reprogram the satellite, field offices should consider submitting an RSO request in the morning when conditions seem favorable for severe weather.
When calling for an RSO be advised there will normally be a gap in the RSO every six hours while the satellite scans the Southern Hemisphere to produce cloud vector winds to initialize the NCEP global model. If the gap would impact field office operations, the field office can request an override of the Southern Hemisphere scan when they submit the RSO request.
To initiate an RSO request, Southern Region offices must contact the NWSFO Tulsa lead forecaster. He/she coordinates all requests from the region and forwards them to the senior duty meteorologist (SDM) at NCEP's Central Operations. The SDM coordinates all NWS requests following an established priority procedure.
The procedure for submitting RSO requests is currently under review. In the interim, if NWSFO Tulsa is being threatened by severe weather, requests should be submitted to SSD. For further information about the RSO procedures contact Ken Waters in SSD.
THE CHERNOBYL VIRUS. It seems we just got over the "Melissa" virus crisis and now a more malicious virus is around to worry about. This virus, also called the CIH or "space filler" virus strikes on the 26th day of each month. It is far more dangerous than the "Melissa" virus because it can irretrievably destroy data on a user's computer or, even worse, make the machine inoperable. This is another reason why we must ensure all are regularly using the latest version of the NAI McAfee anti-virus software and virus update files to protect against such threats.
NETSCAPE PILOT SYSTEM. Leon Minton was recently at NWSH to install and test a Netscape Pilot System. The system includes the Administrator, Directory, Messenger, Certificate, Calendar, and Collabra programs. NWS Messaging Focal Points will be added to the system as users to provide hands on experience and familiarization with the products and to provide valuable feedback. This will help determine implementation strategies for the full NWS Messaging System.
RADIO FREQUENCY ASSIGNMENTS FIVE YEAR REVIEWS. The Southern Region Frequency Coordinator, Cecil Tevis, is in the process of reviewing all radio frequencies which have not been updated within the last five years. During the next few months Cecil will contact the field sites to verify and validate frequency data assigned to them. The plan is to develop a complete and accurate database of frequencies for Southern Region. To learn more about frequency management, visit the Department of Commerce Office of Radio Frequency Management Web page at http://www.orfm.noaa.gov/. Please forward any questions or comments to Cecil in SOD.
MIXING PLEASURE WITH BUSINESS. On May 1, Dennis Weryavah, SFT in Tulsa, and his new bride Sandy were married in Key West, Florida. Dennis was in travel status in Key West preparing the office to move into their new interim facility on May 11. When Sandy went to visit Dennis in Key West, Dennis chartered a boat and asked the captain to marry them.
OBSERVATIONS AT SEA. On April 27, Mike Asmus and John Duxbury traveled to Washington, D.C. for a meeting with the FAA, NWSH and a Gulf of Mexico helicopter company to discuss shipboard observation. Helicopter companies claim they can reduce operational costs if aviation quality observations are made aboard ships where the helicopters land. Upon the completion of several action items, a demonstration will be conducted. No major obstacles are anticipated.
CWSU ALBUQUERQUE. Meteorologist Alberta Vieira was a judge at the National Indian Science and Engineering Fair held in Albuquerque in March. A total of 486 junior high and high school students participated, entering 391 projects. The students traveled from all over the United States, including Alaska, and a few places in Canada. Five high school finalists were selected to go to Philadelphia, in May for the International Science and Engineering Fair. Alberta judged projects under the category of Environmental Science. Though a few were meteorology, many more were studies of water in one respect or another.
NWSFO FORT WORTH. WCM Jim Stefkovich gave a short weather class to 75 preschoolers in Colleyville. About half were minority students. MIC Skip Ely conducted a tour of the facility for nine Girl Scouts and three mothers. Skip also conducted two tours for the Bethesda Christian Academy in Fort Worth for approximately 33 students.
NWSFO NORMAN. On March 26, NWSFO Norman hosted a visit by 11 students and a professor from the Department of Geography at the University of Central Arkansas. Six of the students were female. There was a great deal of discussion about employment opportunities in the federal government, and career paths for geography graduates.
NWSO BROWNSVILLE. DAPM Jim Campbell participated in the Mariano Gonzalez Elementary School Career Day for 275 4th and 5th grade students. Discussions included careers in the Weather Service, as well as related career fields. Handouts included a "Weather Word" puzzle, tornado and hurricane safety rules and Hurricane Tracking Charts.
NWSFO NEW ORLEANS. MIC Paul Trotter and forecaster Freddie Zeigler lead a joint group tour for the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., Project Manhood Youth Group. Project Manhood is a group of young men who, through mirroring members of the fraternity and their values, will ideally become prospering, successful, and respected citizens. The joint tour was for two graduate chapters--Gamma Rho, New Orleans West Bank (Jefferson Parish) Graduate Chapter, and Chi Kappa Kappa, Northshore (St. Tammany, Washington, and Tangipahoa Parishes). There were eleven young people and seven adults.
The individuals toured both the RFC and NWSFO. NWS participants included HMT Doug Tranchina, who gave an overview of the cooperative and data acquisition programs, including NWR (CRS Technology versus old NWR technology) and upper air. Forecaster Walter Copes presented information concerning public forecasting and satellite interpretation. Randy Riemen, LMRFC, gave a great presentation on the river system of the U.S. and the importance of the Mississippi River. He also demonstrated RFC river models. Freddie Zeigler discussed public and aviation forecasting, and reminded everyone of the danger of lightning by relating a lightning death of a friend when he was playing youth football. He followed this with a simulated balloon release and usage of the clinometer while the balloon was ascending.
NWSO SHREVEPORT. Marion Kuykendall (DAPM), Bill Parker (forecaster), Craig Ross (service hydrologist) and Bill Murrell (intern) gave a tour to 40 students, including 35 minorities, from Hollywood Elementary School. NWS operations, weather preparedness, and the Benton, Louisiana, tornado of April 3, 1999, were discussed.
Mary Keiser, SCEP, Donovan Landreneau, met intern, and FIC Matt Foster gave a tour to the U.S. Power Squadron of Shreveport, along with discussion of the NWS operations and modernization. MIC Lee Harrison and Bill Parker represented the NWS and NOAA at Career Day at Southern University, a historically Black College. Job opportunities in NOAA were discussed.
Bill Parker and Mike Waddell, ESA, were guest speakers at Huntington High School "Annual Math Applications Week." Bill discussed NWS operations and how math is used in meteorology, while Mike discussed how math is used in computer science. Approximately 325 students and faculty were in attendance. Over half of the students were minorities.
NWSFO SAN JUAN. WCM Rafael Mojica conducted a tour and presentation for nine environmental science class students of the Metropolitan University. Career opportunities within NOAA, education requirements, and climate change were subjects of discussion. Rafael also conducted an office tour and presentation for 15 university computer science students interested in how the NWS uses computers and software. NWS modernization was discussed and the evolution process from teletype machines to AWIPS.
Francisco Balleste (DAPM), Benjamin Aponte (HMT), Robert Mitchell (HMT), and forecasters Scott Stripling and Modesto Vazquez conducted an office tour for 75 elementary school students from Nuestra Senora de la Providencia Private School. Lead forecaster Roberto Garcia conducted an office tour for 24 students from Dr. Santiago Veve Calzada High School. Service hydrologist Eloy Colon assisted four students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute for a rainfall-runoff study.
Lead forecaster Miguel Sierra visited High School Clemente Ramirez de Arellano and discussed thunderstorms and lightning for 40 students. He also conducted two office tours for 30 students from Rosa Bell Private School.
CWSU MEMPHIS. Meteorologist Larry Boatman was part of the planning team for the National Black Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees for a production of the Bessie Coleman Story. Larry also assisted Harold Phipher and Jerry Hanson from the FAA in presenting and filming a Black History program at St. Paul Catholic School. The CWSU also hosted several tour groups from Levi Elementary, and Melrose High School, which are predominantly black schools, and the Black Pilots Association.
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