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

November 1, 1997

SOUTHERN TOPICS


REGIONAL DIRECTOR

KELLY REPORTS. On Thursday, October 23, General Jack Kelly delivered his much-anticipated review of the National Weather Service to Secretary of Commerce William Daley. By now, most have knowledge of the reviews content since it has been made available on Internet as well as cc:mail. For Southern Region Headquarters employees, the Kelly recommendations were obviously a relief. The retired General recommended continuation of the current six region management structure in the National Weather Service, but with a somewhat reduced staffing. This was a plan which the Regional Directors had argued as best for the organization through the remainder of modernization transition. The Secretary immediately accepted the recommendation and ordered termination of any plans to close Southern Region Headquarters. The report further recommended any future plans for changing regional management structure only be considered after the completion of an extensive impact study of how changes would affect the organization and its users. The report also led Secretary Daley to other decisions. He has directed the National Weather Service to implement a series of management reforms designed to improve services and reduce costs. This decision will be implemented with the arrival of the new NWS Director. The Secretary will work with Congress to achieve the level of funding support to NWS at the level recommended by General Kelly, which is close to the Senate mark of approximately $20 million over the President's request. Our budget is still being worked in the House/Senate Conference, so time is available to impact the results. As of this writing, we are currently under a Continuing Resolution due to expire on November 7. Secretary Daley has also announced the creation of a new position in National Weather Service Headquarters. The position of Chief Financial Officer will be responsible for executing much-needed management and budget reforms.

The Kelly report has brought to close a horrible year for Southern Region Headquarters and its employees. We have lost many excellent and dedicated personnel. We will do everything possible to replace them with the same level of excellence. My deepest gratitude is extended to all SRH personnel and to the Southern Region field organization who pulled together and supported us through this exceedingly disruptive year.

DIRECTOR'S CONFERENCE HELD. During the week of October 20, a National Weather Service Directors' meeting was held in Washington D.C. We covered many of the typical subjects of such a meeting, which included a review of some of our technology programs, as well as discussions on strategy relevant to future transition requirements. General uncertainty prevailed through many of the discussions in anticipation of the release of the Kelly report. The personnel- related decisions will be announced after a clearance with the union. One decision is clear. We will be changing to a two-tier, pass/fail performance system beginning in January. All supervisors will receive training on the new system over the next several months.

AWARDS APPROVED. The Department of Commerce Bronze medal and the NOAA Administrator's awards have been approved. We are very proud of the following Southern Region award winners.

Bronze Medal Award

Individual: Ellie H. Pittman, Jr., DAPM, NWSO Lake Charles

Individual: Steven G. Cooper, Southern Region Headquarters

Group: Heiko E. Crowe, Southern Region Headquarters

Victor W. Murphy, Southern Region Headquarters

NOAA Administrator's Award

Group: T. L. Farrow, NWSFO Fort Worth

Hugh (Max) M. White, Southern Region Headquarters

Group: Victor W. Murphy, Southern Region Headquarters

MORE PROFESSIONAL HONORS. In the last issue of Topics we announced the Southern Region recipients of National Weather Association (NWA) 1997 awards. Those were presented at the NWA Annual Meeting in Reno on October 23. I am very pleased this week to add two new names to the long list of Southern Region employees who are recipients of honors bestowed by the American Meteorological Society (AMS).

Lans Rothfusz (MIC, NWSO Tulsa) has received the Francis W. Reichelderfer Award for distinguished public service. Lans was cited for his outstanding leadership as MIC of the NWS forecast effort for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. The success of that effort brought great credit to the science of meteorology, as well as to NOAA and the National Weather Service. This prestigious award honors F.W. Reichelderfer, who was Chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau for more than four decades.

Dr. Bernard Meisner (Scientific Services Division/SRH) has been named an AMS Fellow, recognizing his outstanding contributions to meteorology and applications of the science over many years. The operational support Bernard provides from SSD is well known at all offices, but he is also involved in many AMS and NWA activities, as well as educational outreach projects at SRH.

Congratulations, Bernard and Lans. These awards will be presented at the AMS Annual Meeting in Phoenix next January. Several nominations were submitted this year for additional NWA and AMS awards. Those not recognized this year will automatically be held for consideration by next year's awards committees.

AWIPS UPDATE

THE LATEST NEWS. AWIPS Build 3.0 Operational Test and Evaluation is underway at various sites around the country. We have had the opportunity to listen in on the conference calls discussing the difficulties the offices have encountered and have been very pleased with the outcome. As expected, there have been some wrinkles, some big and some small, exactly what you would expect with fielding a system like this. Overall, the response of the forecasters to the system has been very positive. Forecasters using the system are reluctant to stop using the system for the various tests which are necessary. As one forecaster put it " . . . all I need is the refrigerator and the microwave behind me and I'll never have to get up!"

LOOKING AHEAD. We will have two big system changes in December. Both Norman and Tulsa will be getting Build 3.0 the first week of December. Norman will get an entirely new system while Tulsa will have some additional hardware and some swapped from their existing AWIPS.

WHAT TO EXPECT WITH BUILD 4.0? Although Build 3.0 is just now hitting a few field sites, the development of the next builds is still going strong. Build 4.0 is being delivered to PRC to start their part and plans are still in the making for what will be in Build 4.1 and beyond. If you would like to see what is planned for Build 4.0, check out: www-sdd.fsl.noaa.gov/~fxa/builds.

METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES DIVISION

BLUE NORTHERS SWEEP LUBBOCK. Fall is the time of year for Blue Northers in west Texas. This fall was no exception as the NWSFO Lubbock "Blue Northers" softball team swept their way to the City of Lubbock's Summer/Fall Class D league championship. The Blue Northers are comprised mainly of NWSFO Lubbock and Texas Tech University Atmospheric Science Group staff. The Blue Northers are coached by FIC Ernie Pelto. Other NWSFO team members include FICs John Lipe and Justin Weaver and Forecasters Marty Mullen, Jody James, and Pat Vesper.

HURRICANE COORDINATION. The 1997 Atlantic hurricane season is coming down the home stretch. With a full month to go in the season, though, Southern Region offices have continued their aggressive and ongoing preparedness campaigns.

Joe Arellano and John Cole (NWSO Corpus Christi) and Bill Read and Gene Hafele (NWSO Houston/Galveston) participated in the Texas Gulf Coast Emergency Management Conference. Al Dreumont and Larry Eblen from NWSFO Austin/San Antonio were also in attendance. Bill and John led workshops outlining the history and advances in hurricane forecasting, hurricane climatology along the Texas coast, and the correlation between El Niño and tropical cyclone activity in the western Gulf of Mexico.

Frank Revitte, WCM at NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge, provided hurricane support and guidance to the staff of the Slidell Memorial Hospital. He met with a group of hospital administrators regarding NWS hurricane-related products and services. During the meeting, Frank and MIC Paul Trotter also discussed the threats posed by hurricanes and the dissemination and reception of hurricane-related products.

SCHOOL OUTREACH. Bruce Burkman, WCM at NWSO Shreveport, conducted a 4-hour seminar at the Harrison County, Texas, Independent School District (ISD). All of the district's school principals were in attendance as well as several ISD administrative staff. Bruce's program focused on school weather safety and on the SAME receivers. The attendees were unanimously in favor of the SAME units, and Bruce reported that nearly all of the principals either have purchased or will purchase the receivers for their schools.

Mike Foster, SOO at NWSFO Fort Worth, participated in a Career Day at Fossil Ridge High School in Fort Worth. Mike discussed the science of meteorology, academic requirements, and possible career opportunities. Approximately 100 students attended Mike's presentation.

John White and Rodney Smith from NWSFO Memphis, along with Mike Mota from the Memphis CWSU, staffed a booth during the Learning for Life Fall Fun Challenge. Over 1,200 teachers, volunteers, and handicapped students attended the day-long event. The NWS was one of several civic groups to participate in the challenge; other agencies represented included the Police Department, the Fire Departments, and the Health Department.

MEDIA SUPPORT. Brian Peters and the staff at NWSFO Birmingham engaged in an extremely active three days of media interviews during mid-October. The activities included: a series of live TV weathercasts and interviews during a morning news program; an in-depth newspaper interview on CWA changes and an upcoming amateur radio exercise; a series of taped TV interviews on a variety of weather topics; and four separate TV interviews on the above-mentioned amateur radio exercise.

NWSO Tampa Bay WCM Walt Zaleski and the TBW staff recently hosted a crew from National Geographic who were filming a special on the "Storm of the Century." The crew obtained camera shots of WSR-88D imagery, satellite-depicted jet stream flow, and satellite images of the storm itself. Walt, SOO Charlie Paxton, and Forecaster Ron Morales provided interviews while Met Intern Dan Miller and HMT Dick Kamp provided NOAA Weather Radio and radiosonde launch demonstrations, respectively.

HYDROLOGIC SERVICES DIVISION

New Deputy Chief of HSD. Ben Weiger (presently in the Hydrologic Operations Division of the Office of Hydrology) has accepted the position of Deputy Chief of HSD in SRH. Ben's effective date of employment will be December 7, 1997. He brings a thorough background and much experience of NWS hydrologic operations to HSD. Congratulations and welcome, Ben!

FYI. Ben Weiger recently discovered a very useful home page from the University Council on Water Resources (UCOWR). This home page contains a wealth of information of benefit to the NWS hydrologic mission. HSA offices are encouraged to create a link to this site on their home pages. The URL is: http://www.uwin.siu.edu/ucowr/index.html.

NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS

Reimbursable Funding Issues. On September 9, a meeting of NWS and U.S. Corps of Engineers employees was held at the colocated NWSFO/ABRFC in Tulsa. NWS attendees included Mike Asmus, SRH CPM; Lans Rothfusz, NWSFO Tulsa MIC; Eldon Beard and Al Hong, NWSFO Norman and Tulsa service hydrologists; Billy Olsen, ABRFC HIC; and Mike Teague, NWSFO Tulsa DAPM. The intent of the meeting was to increase coordination between the two agencies in light of funding cutbacks the COE is enduring and will continue to endure over the next several years. Specifically, the cutbacks have impacted the COE's reimbursements to the NWS for costs incurred in maintaining flood control projects 7 and 9 (FC-7 and FC-9), among others. Proposals were discussed and approved which will temporarily allow the continuation of these reimbursables at levels acceptable to both agencies. However, more coordination will be needed in the coming years as budgets continue to tighten.

NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS

Coordination Visits. On October 20-23, Dave Reed (HIC LMRFC) took to the road to visit cooperators in the LMRFC area. In his travels, Dave and Jackson NWSFO service hydrologist Tom Thompson visited the Mississippi Valley Division and Vicksburg District of the COE in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Following these visits, they met with the Pearl River Water Supply District and Mississippi District of the USGS in Jackson, Mississippi. Tom and Dave were joined in their visits by Donell Woods of the WSO Vicksburg and Jackson NWSFO SOO Rusty Pfost. Discussions centered around preparations for the upcoming flood season.

MAP Climatology Presentations. John Kuhn, HAS forecaster at LMRFC, presented his findings from the study of MAP Climatology in the LMRFC area at the annual NWA meeting in Reno, Nevada. Randy Rieman, LMRFC senior hydrologist, also made a similar presentation to the National Hydrologic Warning Council meeting in St. Louis.

SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION

RADAR TELETRAINING BEGINS. At this writing, the OSF Operations Training Branch is in the middle of week two, section two of the teletraining sessions that comprise Block 3 of the new distance-learning version of the WSR-88D Operations Course. Southern Region offices involved are NWSFOs Jackson and Austin/San Antonio and NWSO Houston. Jami Boettcher (OSF/OTB) reports that the sessions have gone extremely well so far, with a distinct lack of technical problems. Jami noted that it's obvious the sites have been well prepared for their sessions. That, in turn, reflects all the work at local offices to set up and test out the audiographics hardware and software. SSD appreciates the cooperation we've received site-by-site as we have worked with offices to get ready. The positive results come from a real team effort.

EL NIÑO TELETRAINING IN THE SOUTHERN REGION. The audiographics equipment that was recently delivered to all offices has quickly been put to use by SSD to provide a one-hour El Niño teletraining session. Bernard Meisner based the lesson on the El Niño reference paper he wrote for the American Meteorological Society's Project Atmosphere, and he has incorporated graphics readily available via the Internet. Ten Southern Region offices and the Eastern Region Headquarters were among the first to receive the training. Additional sessions will be provided in November for the remainder of our offices.

Offices who first experienced teletraining through the El Niño lesson have responded positively. Interest in El Niño has developed very quickly--within and outside the NWS--and SSD is pleased to demonstrate how effective "just-in-time training" can be developed and delivered to the field in response to this climatic event. (See also the El Niño Web site noted below.)

RECENT AND UPCOMING SEMINARS AND WORKSHOPS. Southern Region offices have been busy conducting or preparing for training workshops and seminars lately. The following is a partial list.

AMU Visit to FSU and NWSO Tallahassee. SSD arranged for John Manobianco, from NASA's Applied Meteorology Unit at Cape Canaveral, to visit the Cooperative Institute for Tropical Meteorology at FSU last week to provide a CITM seminar on AMU operations and applied research in support of Space Shuttle operations. John also visited NWSO Tallahassee to discuss AMU mesoscale modeling studies and learn more about modeling activities at the NWSO and CITM.

Coastal Fronts Lecture. Dr. John Nielsen-Gammon (Texas A&M) discussed coastal fronts and density currents on October 3 at NWSO Houston. He presented key findings from his and other's work (mainly on the East Coast), and showed how these findings apply to the Texas coast. The importance of flow parallel the coastline was noted. Two distinctly different circumstances come into play for the lower coast and the upper coast. The Mexican Plateau provides an orographic feature favorable for cold air damming on the lower coast, while the upper coast relies on sharp temperature contrast from land to Gulf waters and/or continental shelf waters to open Gulf to establish a coastal front. Physical processes that enhance or dissipate a coastal front were then discussed, along with forecast implications for coastal offices.

Dr. Neilsen-Gammon also showed a tape of tropopause maps over the last 10 years, describing a technique which provides a fascinating means of examining the dynamic relationships of atmospheric waves and their seasonal changes. The seminar was attended by ten members of the Houston staff, along with Jim Ward (Austin/San Antonio), Steve Pfaff (Corpus Christi), and David Wally and Anthony Perkins (Lake Charles).

Marine Training. A seminar was conducted at NWSO Mobile on October 14, in preparation for assuming coastal flood watch/warning responsibility next January. Leonard Bucklin (Lead Forecaster, NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge) discussed WSOM Chapter D-51 and the Coastal Waters Forecast. Jeff Medlin (NWSO Mobile SOO) presented basic concepts related to ocean currents, wave characteristics, and the marine boundary layer. During the afternoon, Eric Esbsensen (NWSO Mobile) and Gary Beeler (WCM) discussed WSOM Chapter C-43 and the Coastal Flood Watch/Warning Program in general. Gary also discussed use of the TPC Slosh Model, then showed a time-lapse video study of Hurricane Danny's wind effects on coastal flooding in Mobile Bay. Nine staff members participated. Thanks to Len Bucklin for sharing NWSFO expertise.

Winter Weather (Gulf Coast). Staff members at NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge, and several nearby offices, have planned a Gulf Coast Winter Weather Workshop in Slidell, November 12-13. An agenda for the workshop is included as a technical attachment this week. This sharing of knowledge and experiences gained at various offices during past significant events will be an excellent way to prepare everyone for the coming winter season. Visitors from Jackson State University and the Southern Regional Climate Center will also participate.

Coastal Flooding. NWSO Houston will conduct a Coastal Flood Seminar on November 14 for the Houston and surrounding office staffs. The format will be similar to a seminar held at NWSO Tampa Bay in August. On the agenda are:

Dr. Steve Lyons (TPC, Marine Branch) will talk about weather scenarios leading to coastal flooding.

Jim Ward (SOO, NWSFO Austin/San Antonio) will describe procedures used at the NWSFO prior to and during coastal flood events.

Don Ocker (NWSO Brownsville) will discuss the "Storm of the Century" (1993) and other significant coastal flood events which affected their coastal area.

Capt. Steve Ford (Texas A&M/Galveston) will talk about the Physical Oceanographic Real Time System (PORTS).

Harry Brown (Galveston County EM) will describe coastal flood thresholds and their experiences with past coastal floods.

Dr. Peter Mantz (Lamar University) will talk about tide and meteorological data collection systems for the southeast Texas coast and bays.

Winter Weather (Memphis). Ron Przybylinski (SOO, NWSFO St. Louis) and Wes Junker (NCEP/EPC) will visit NWSFO Memphis on November 17 to discuss severe weather during the cool season (Ron) and wintertime ice and snow storms (Wes) with staff members and visitors from nearby offices.

INTERESTING WEB SITES. Here are a few sites worth taking a look at:

Some nice real-time loops of GOES-9 data are at the RASDIS URL http://www.cira.colostate.edu/RAMM/Rmsdsol/main.html.

The 1997 draft report of the Director's Advisory Committee on Forecast Operations (DACFO) has been posted on-line. It will be updated as responses to DACFO items are finalized. Find it at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/dacfo/.

Want to know about El Niño and ENSO? There's no better place to start searching for information than the NWS Southern Region home page at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/. Click on the highlighted "El Niño" to see a wide variety of links and sources. El Niño impacts in local areas are also included. These are updated as offices post them to their home pages.

SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION BRANCH

RADAR UPDATE. The "re-engineering" of the Air Weather Service continues on track. The new Air Force Weather Agency is planned to begin implementation next year. This new alignment will mean major changes to the operation of the Air Force WSR-88Ds in the Southern Region.

Essentially, the Air Force is consolidating all forecast and warning services to four bases in the continental United States. All forecasts will be generated at Scott AFB, Davis Motham AFB, Shaw AFB, or Barksdale AFB. Also, radar operations will be moved to those sites. The Air Force is planning to relocate all DOD radar UCPs to one of these four bases.

For our field offices, this means all coordination will be with the new centers. The URC meetings for the DOD radars will also be at one of the four bases. We see positives and negatives with this approach. The new centers guarantee 24-hour professional operations by senior forecasters, but we will lose the local sensitivities that have been developed over the years.

The northeast Alabama radar is going through its final commissioning checks. We are planning the commissioning in early December. This will be the last commissioning of a WSR-88D in the Southern Region.

WXR/PCROSA FIX. Thanks to Andy Nash in Tampa, WXR and PCROSA now work in harmony. The WXR setup used by the old collection system worked fine. PCROSA recognizes a different format for precipitation and soil temperatures. If you have not received the information on how to change WXR so it will recognize the PCROSA precipitation and soil moisture groups, please contact Cyndie Abelman at (817) 978-2367 ext. 124.

RADIOSONDES CHANGEOVER. Gene Witsman just came back from Washington and is passing on some information that is going to impact a lot of Southern Region upper air sites. You may have heard about the latest radiosondes contract. He forwarded a message about this several weeks ago. The upper air sites in the SR that will start flying the Vaisala radiosondes on June 1, 1998, are: BMX, JAX, LCH, MFL, FFC, LIX, TBW, DRT, JAN, EYW, OHX, SHV, and TLH. Those B2 sites not listed will continue to use the VIZ B2 radiosonde indefinitely to maintain climate continuity.

As a heads up, the three remaining transponder sites (FWD, ABQ, and LZK) will soon be flying the transponder radiosondes as regular B2 radiosondes without the ranging equipment. This is because contract obligations required that NWS purchase an additional 1,500 radiosondes this fiscal year. These new transponder radiosondes have been sent to all of the ranging sites. The plan is to use them up as soon as possible once we get a green light from NWSH. Don't start using the radiosondes yet on a regular basis. Gene will let you know when to start using them. We have told NWSH that SR will not try to keep the ranging equipment functioning. Instructions for disposition of any ranging equipment at your sites will be forthcoming soon.

Other than hardware changes and a few differences in preparation, the Vaisala radiosondes should not be very different from the B2 radiosondes we are using now. The Vaisala radiosonde is much lighter and, therefore, you will need to recalculate your nozzle lift to meet the desired ascension rate. The light weight also presents a problem when using a train regulator. A mod note will be sent out prior to the conversion to the Vaisala radiosondes, along with the necessary card(s) to convert the MicroART to Vaisala operations.

For EWX and MFL, Gene has discussed this changeover with the contracting officer and he sees no reason for any contract mods at this time.

If anyone wants to talk to the regional experts on Vaisala, contact MAF, EPZ, or AMA. They have been flying these radiosondes for some time. Any other questions, as always, feel free to call Gene Witsman (817) 978-2367 ext. 129.

FINAL NTROUTER INSTALLATIONS. More than half of the SR WFOs have installed the final version of NTROUTER. The response has been positive with many reporting faster response times and fewer, if any, errors. This upgrade puts us in a position to accept the next upgrade to the cc:Mail client software when it is released from NWSH.

SR WEB SERVER. The SR Web Server was being repaired/improved by the original vendor on Friday, October 24, when the vendor accidentally shorted the new system board and destroyed the data on the hard drive. Leon Minton and Susan Beckwith spent several days configuring the Web Server and FTP Server, while updating the Web page files. Our thanks to the field offices for their patience and cooperation during this mishap. The server now responds like it should, so the end result will be improved service to our customers.

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