UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
November 1, 1999
SPECIAL EMPHASIS PROGRAM MANAGERS. I want to take this opportunity to welcome our new Special Emphasis Program Managers (SEPMs) as members of the Southern Region's EEO program management team. They are: Albertha Mosley, WFO Miami, Federal Women's Employment Program Manager; Bill Parker, NWSO Shreveport, Black Employment Program Manager; Michael Young, NWSO Midland, Persons with Disabilities Employment Program Manager; Joe Villescaz, NWSFO Austin/San Antonio, Hispanic Employment Program Manager; Stephen Ahn, NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge, Asian American Employment Program Manager; and Dennis Weryavah, NWSFO Tulsa, Native American Employment Program Manager. I appreciate the interest you have shown in the Region's EEO program by volunteering to serve in this important capacity.
I also want to thank our former SEPMs, who have served over the past several years, for their fine work and dedication to the EEO program. Much still needs to be done, however, and your continued support to the program will be appreciated. Many thanks to these former SEPMs: Cyndie Abelman, Federal Women's Employment Program Manager; Larry Boatman, Black Employment Program Manager; Thomas Wright, Persons with Disabilities Employment Program Manager; Robert Van Hoven, Asian American Employment Program Manager; and Billy Beams, American Indian Employment Program Manager.
NATIONAL WEATHER ASSOCIATION AWARDS. I am pleased to note that among the recipients of 1999 NWA awards were the following from the Southern Region:
Operational Achievement Individual Award: David Andra, SOO NWSFO Norman, for his issuance of a tornado emergency in an operational forecast to the citizens in south Oklahoma City, before the devastating F5 tornado outbreak on May 3, 1999.
Walter J. Bennett Public Service Award: Amateur Radio Skywarn Team, Fort Worth, for their hard work and self-sacrificing attitude, especially for their spotter reports critical to the warning process for an approaching F4 tornado in Lancaster, Texas, on April 26, 1994.
Local NWA Chapter Award: Arkansas Local Chapter, Little Rock, for their active and productive membership that fosters the science of meteorology, and which serves as a model for other areas nationwide. NWSFO Little Rock staff members are integral to the success of the chapter.
Congratulations to all of the above, and kudos to all employees who actively support the National Weather Association, American Meteorological Society, and other professional organizations. By maintaining strong ties to such groups we strengthen the NWS position as a science leader and we enhance our ability to provide service to all our partners and customers.
LEN SNELLMAN. We were saddened to hear last week of the death of Len Snellman, long-time chief of the Western Region Scientific Services Division. He was a true pioneer in operational forecasting in the post WW-II, "modern era" of combining skill, experience and computer guidance. Len remained active long after his retirement about 15 years ago. I understand he had been undergoing chemotherapy recently and was in declining health for the last year. By his leadership, example and teaching he guided the early (and in some cases later) careers of many who are now in senior positions in the NWS.
CELEBRATION OF 10 YEARS AT MELBOURNE. NWSO Melbourne celebrated its 10th anniversary in late October with an open house. Presentations were made by MIC Bart Hagemeyer, who reviewed the past ten years of modernization activities and historic weather events which were handled by the office, and John Madura, manager of Kennedy Space Center Weather Projects, who paid tribute to the office staff. They were followed by Col. Tony Guiffrida, Commander of the 45th Weather Squadron at Patrick AFB who did same, then Dr. Bernard Meisner, SRH/SSD, who highlighted the many science achievements at the NWSO during its first ten years. Former NWSFO Miami MIC Paul Hebert, now retired, reminisced about the office's brief but eventful history. The five Orlando television stations all were present to cover the event. Additional guests included emergency managers, amateur radio HAMs, members of the 45th AWS, the NASA Applied Meteorology Unit, and several others. The event provided an opportunity to highlight collaboration, along with science and forecasting excellence.
For the record, NWSO Melbourne was the first WFO building built and occupied as part of NWS modernization. They hired the first SOO and WCM, and received the first WSR-88D in a coastal environment (the second in the nation). The Melbourne staff has been recognized for outstanding work during the costliest hailstorms in Florida history (March 1992), the costliest hurricane ever to strike the U.S. (Andrew), the worst tornado outbreak ever to strike the state (February 1998), the deadliest extra-tropical storm in Florida history (March 1993), the most tornadoes in a single day (October 1996), and the worst outbreak of wildfires in state history (summer of 1998). All in all, it's been an exciting ten years!
AWIPS COMMISSIONING. We are in the home stretch of AWIPS deployment, but we still have a lot of work to do to remain on schedule for commissioning. A few changes have been made to the commissioning schedule, which can be downloaded (use the adobe acrobat reader) from http://www.awips_commissioning.nws.noaa.gov/crr_files/ac%20reports/ac_month.pdf.
In addition to the established schedule, we are requiring each office to be able to operate completely independently of AFOS 60 days prior to their commissioning date. This provides a buffer because commissioning requires an office to be able to operate completely on AWIPS for 30 consecutive days before the date of commissioning. So, subtract 60 days from your commissioning date to determine your deadline for operating independently of AFOS. The only AFOS interface that may be allowed to remain past the 60 day deadline could be for CWSUs associated with WFOs which commission early. We anticipate this issue will be resolved before the 30 day deadline, and the Houston office may be the only one affected.
We appreciate the frenzied work everyone has been doing lately to move hardware interfaces to AWIPS. There is much yet to do, and to assist we have assembled resources for commissioning. They are listed at http://srhawips.srh.noaa.gov/commissioning/index.html.
PROJECT ACCESS MEETING. A Project ACCESS (Accelerated Coastal Community Environmental Science Service) meeting was held near St. Augustine, Florida, on October 27. Pat Welsh (SOO) and Andrew Shashy (Marine Focal Point) attended from NWSO Jacksonville. The goal of the meeting was to bring several agencies together to share information about marine research activities and marine observations. Local, state, and federal agencies in Florida have installed marine observing equipment in the coastal waters, and plans call for more. From the NWS perspective, this meeting provided an excellent opportunity to learn from and share information with many others who have operational interests along the northeast Florida coastline. Andrew provided a detailed summary of the meeting, which we have included as a technical attachment this month.
FLASH MEETING. The FLASH (Florida Alliance for Safe Homes) steering committee met on October 14 in Tallahassee. This was the second meeting with the NWS participating as a partner with the group. Southern Region representative Steven Cooper reported positive news with regard to the publicizing of NOAA Weather Radio across Florida.
FLASH's initial campaign will begin with NWR as one of the first 30-second spots to be televised throughout Florida. Additionally, billboards will be used throughout the campaign. The theme of the campaign will be "Have you got yours" and will begin in the spring of 2000.
NEWS FROM THE CENTER WEATHER SERVICE UNITS. The following is a report of recent noteworthy activities in the Region's CWSU program:
Laptop computers have been procured for each CWSU to assist the meteorologists in conducting training activities and maintaining e-mail contact with their offices while on travel.
Preparatory activities to place the CWSUs on the regional Frame Relay Network continue. During the week of October 25, Jack Gross, SOO NWSFO Miami, was detailed to SRH to configure servers for the network. Jack worked diligently to provide as much capability as possible through the system and documented his actions comprehensively. He will continue to play a significant role in training CWSU personnel on the workings of the system. Included in that will be the appropriate support staff at each CWSU's parent WFO.
Progress continues on organizing a national CWSU conference. The conference is scheduled for February 7-11, 2000 in Kansas City. Participants will be from each CWSU, WFOs, the NCEP/ AWC, and select customer groups. Conference organizers are finalizing the agenda. Vince Carreras, MIC at CWSU Houston, is our regional focal point for conference issues.
CWSU Albuquerque. CWSU information has been added to the NWSFO Albuquerque home page, including a map of the ARTCC's airspace.
The NWSFO SOO, Deirdre Kann, on her recent quarterly visit to the CWSU to assess technological capability and training needs, was accompanied by forecaster Jennifer Hill. Jennifer was provided a tour of the ARTCC, including the Traffic Management Unit, air traffic controller positions, and the CWSU. She was able to observe the afternoon stand-up briefing. SOOs are encouraged to invite forecasters along during their visits to the CWSUs. This provides an excellent opportunity to familiarize everyone with the use and importance of NWS aviation products in the management of the airspace system.
CWSU Atlanta. On October 14, NCEP Aviation Weather Center Director Dave Rodenhuis, Deputy Director Jim Henderson and lead AWC forecaster Paul Fike, along with Elliott Barske from the Alaskan Aviation Weather Unit visited the CWSU. Topics of discussion included new initiatives to support CWSU operations, CWSU use of AWC products, coordination among the AWC, CWSUs and WFOs, and the results of the Collaborative Convective Forecast Project.
CWSU Fort Worth. Work on the Dallas/Fort Worth-Collaborative Aviation Forecast Study (D-CAFS) is progressing. An operations plan is currently under review. The main objective of the project is to develop a methodology for promoting collaborative decision-making regarding routine aviation forecasts for a major hub (DFW). Participants in the study will include NWSFO Fort Worth, CWSU Fort Worth, and the Aviation Weather Center.
The study will draw on lessons learned during the first year of the Collaborative Convective Forecast Project. A major tool for conducting the necessary coordination among the participating offices in D-CAFS will be an advanced Internet "chat room" capability which includes use of white board graphics technology. Tentative start-up of the project is mid-November.
Tom Hicks, CWSU MIC, continues to experiment with the use of RUC-II data in aviation forecasting. He is currently ingesting hourly RUC-II data and reformatting it into an experimental guidance product consisting of a number of aviation weather parameters. Meteorologists at NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory are quite interested in Tom's efforts using the RUC-II and are considering possible collaborative activities.
CWSU Houston. The latest in a series of weather training sessions for Continental Airlines dispatchers was conducted by CWSU personnel in October. Two training sessions remain to be completed. Vince Carreras, MIC, has recently become a member of the CWSU Chapter of the National Hispanic Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees. In early October, the coalition held a kick-off luncheon to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.
CWSU Memphis. Larry Boatman is making excellent progress on an effort to produce and export briefing products and PowerPoint presentations to the FAA local area network for display during stand-up briefings. The FAA is so encouraged by his progress that they are allocating funds to complete the effort.
NWS REPRESENTATION AT THE NBAA CONVENTION. On October 12-14, representatives of NWSFO Atlanta, CWSU Atlanta, Southern Region Headquarters and the NWSH Office of Meteorology joined forces to staff an NWS booth at the 1999 National Business Aircraft Association Convention in Atlanta. In addition to distributing literature on thunderstorms, tornadoes, ASOS, and other subjects, forecasters educated pilots on the use of the Internet to access NWS aviation weather graphics and forecasts, including those of the new Aviation Digital Data Service on the Aviation Weather Center Web site. Booth staffers also had the opportunity to visit with representatives of other weather information providers such as ARINC, WSI, Harris, Universal Weather, Baron Services, and NCAR to discuss the latest in weather dissemination and display technology . The new manager of the Meteorology Department at Delta Airlines, Joe Luisi, visited the booth to discuss increased cooperation with the NWS. He even hosted tours of the Delta Airlines World Headquarters for AWC and SRH representatives.
AVIATION TEAM ESTABLISHED. The Southern Region has established a special team to investigate ways of improving its aviation weather services program. The team, which is headed by Judd Ladd, Regional Aviation Meteorologist, consists of Steve Amburn, SOO NWSFO Tulsa; Tim Destri, forecaster NWSFO New Orleans; John Jarboe, NWS Weather Coordinator at the FAA Academy; Richard Lafosse, forecaster at the Spaceflight Meteorology Group; Tom Amis, MIC CWSU Memphis; and Tom Hicks, MIC CWSU Fort Worth. Using the NWS Strategic Vision 2005 Plan and a soon-to-be-published regional adaptation of that plan as their guiding documents, the team's primary mission will be to develop and implement innovative approaches to aviation forecasting, verification and quality-control, training, and customer outreach. The team will meet for the first time in Fort Worth during the week of November 15.
FINAL FIRE WEATHER TRANSFERS. The final regional fire weather service transfers are on target for November 15. Offices assuming fire weather responsibility on that date include NWSOs Jacksonville, Key West, Mobile, and Tallahassee, and NWSFO San Juan. SRH has distributed notification letters to the regional arms of affected land management agencies. Public Information Statements adapted to the offices' particular land management areas are being periodically disseminated across NWWS and the Family of Services.
On October 20, NWSO Jacksonville hosted a short, but comprehensive, fire weather training and outreach workshop. Attendees included fire weather forecasters from all of the Florida NWS offices, as well as NWSO Mobile. Representatives from land management agencies were also on hand. NWSFO Norman held a similar one-day workshop on October 26, also including representatives from the state land management agencies.
STANDARDIZING FIRE WEATHER FORECAST FORMATS. An effort to develop and implement a national standardized fire weather forecast began in Salt Lake City the week of October 25. Chuck Maxwell, IMET from NWSFO Albuquerque, is representing the Southern Region on a national team to accomplish this formidable task. No time frame has been given as to when such a standardized product will be made available for operational use. In the interim, the Southern Region has developed a regional standardized forecast format and is in the final stages of fielding software to support it.
NATIONAL ATMU TEAM FORMED. Jim Noffsinger, IMET from NWSFO Atlanta, will represent the region on a national team tasked with looking at a number of aspects of the new Advanced Technology Meteorological Unit. These include caching, data acquisition, packet delivery, and system docking.
HURRICANE SUPPORT. During this past season, several Southern Region staff have been asked to participate in the Hurricane Liaison Team (HLT) operated out of the National Hurricane Center. The HLT serves as a contact point, providing briefings to external agencies and absorbing much of the external workload from the NHC forecasters. Ron Block, senior forecaster at NWSO Tallahassee, provided a summary of his experiences as a member of the HLT. His comments are included as a technical attachment to this month's Topics.
SPOTTER/EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT COORDINATION. The late fall months represent the end of the hurricane season and the beginning of the secondary severe weather season in the region. Southern Region offices have continued their hard work at strengthening our relationships with spotters and emergency managers. Below are a few highlights.
NWSO Key West WCM Wayne Presnell met with ten National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) boat captains to develop a marine spotter plan. The NMS captains will provide the NWSO with reports of severe or significant weather in addition to critical observations such as wave height. The NWSO and the NMS have already set up a communications station and will implement the program in the near future.
NWSO Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian spoke to the Humphreys County Emergency Management Association regarding a hazardous materials action plan. In addition to the county EMA, representatives from the American Red Cross, local law enforcement, amateur radio groups, and major chemical companies participated in the meeting. The attendees developed wording for specific Civil Emergency Messages related to hazardous materials incidents, and they finalized plans for a hazardous materials drill in November.
NWSFO Atlanta MIC Carlos Garza participated in an Emergency Management Association of Georgia (EMAG) meeting at Commerce, Georgia. EMA representatives from many surrounding counties, the American Red Cross, and the state EMA also attended. Topics at the meeting included hurricane Dennis and expectations for the remainder of the 1999 hurricane season; NOAA Weather Radio expansion in White County; and discussion of the Southern Region Implementation Plan for Vision 2005.
WCMs John White (NWSFO Memphis), Jerry Orchanian (NWSO Nashville), and Howard Waldron (NWSO Morristown) participated in the Tennessee State Emergency Management Conference. The NWS presentation featured a live EMWIN demonstration utilizing a GOES satellite downlink. The attendees were impressed with the recent improvements made to the EMWIN datastream and display software, and four county emergency managers indicated they plan to purchase EMWIN downlinks for their areas.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER/PUBLIC OUTREACH. Our hazardous weather preparedness and public outreach programs continue to be among our most visible campaigns. Below are highlights in these areas from across the Region.
NWSFO Austin/San Antonio WCM Larry Eblen presented a basic weather safety program to the Llano River Advisory Panel (LRAP) at the request of LRAP and Lower Colorado River Authority officials. Larry's program included a review of hazardous weather safety rules, video and slides of the Jarrell, Texas, tornado, slides of the Harper, Texas, downburst and tornado, and a review of the Mason County tornado of May, 1999. Larry then demonstrated an NWR-SAME receiver and answered questions. The LRAP was impressed with the presentation and discussed plans to expand the public's knowledge and acquisition of NWR.
NWSFO Little Rock WCM John Robinson reported the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management has established a program providing funds for the construction of safe rooms or underground storm shelters. The program will provide $1000 or 50 percent of the total cost, whichever is less, to homeowners who construct a safe room or install an underground shelter. The installations must meet or exceed specifications in FEMA's "Taking Shelter from the Storm" publication, as well as all appropriate building codes. Since this announcement, calls have poured into the state EMA regarding this program.
NWSO Melbourne senior forecaster Tim Troutman has completed work on a quad-fold hazardous weather pamphlet for east-central Florida. Over 2,000 pamphlets were sent to the 40 chambers of commerce and emergency management offices in the NWSO's CWA. In turn, the pamphlets will be distributed to new and seasonal residents and visitors in the area. The publication describes lightning, rip currents, tornadoes, waterspouts, floods, hurricanes, and NOAA Weather Radio. It also includes the NWSO's phone number and Internet address.
MEDIA COORDINATION AND OUTREACH. Some noteworthy projects from across the Region include:
NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge MIC Paul Trotter prepared a videotape segment with the mayor of New Orleans and the Orleans Parish Emergency Preparedness Director concerning hurricane preparedness. The video has been aired on local cable networks throughout the hurricane season. The tape includes discussion of a wide variety of hurricane-related problems, including evacuation, forecasting and forecast uncertainty, the levee system, and the "bowl" effect between Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River.
NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas WCM Jim Stefkovich gave a presentation at the National Weather Association's Weathercaster's Workshop in October. Approximately 70 weathercasters from across the country were in attendance. Jim's talk centered on understanding the limitations inherent with weather radar. He emphasized the need for caution when relying strictly on radar data during severe weather broadcasts and the importance of also utilizing warnings and other NWS products. Jim also described the strengths and limitations of the WSR-88D and the Build 10 software.
HYDROLOGIC SERVICES DIVISION
ROAD WARRIORS. The staff of the Southern Region HSD did their share of traveling in October. HSD Chief Jerry Nunn attended the Strategic Planning kickoff meeting for the Georgia and Florida offices in Melbourne October 6-7. The following week Jerry trekked westward to El Paso for the U.S. - Mexico Drought Workshop and a visit to NWSO El Paso. The next week found him in Lafayette for a USGS Mapping Workshop and a station visit at the NWSO Lake Charles. Thanks to the NWSOs in El Paso and Lake Charles for their hospitality.
Hydrologic program manager Bob Carle attended a hydrology workshop in Dowling Park, Florida, sponsored by the Southeast RFC. The two and a half day workshop brought together several service hydrologists and hydro focal points from the Southeast RFC forecast area, as well as representatives from the USGS, COE, Suwannee River Water Management District, and Florida Department of Emergency Management. This was a very "hands on" event which included a trip around the Suawannee River watershed exploring the unique hydrologic features of the area, and a demonstration on how the USGS makes rating curves using their acoustic Doppler measurement system.
MORE E-CHAPTERS COMPLETE. Southern Region review of WSOM Chapters E-05, E-06, and E-07 is now complete. The chapters should soon be ready for inclusion in the NWS Operations Manual.
ROCing AND ROLLING. Early to mid-October featured two tropical cyclones, Irene and Jose, threatening Southern Region offices. During these events the Regional Operations Center (ROC) was open for business 24 hours per day. Along with other SRH staff members, HSD did their part to help staff this important operation, ensuring continuous support was available for those field offices which requested it.
RFC VERIFICATION SYSTEM BEING DEVELOPED. Arkansas-Red Basin RFC HIC, Billy Olsen, and West Gulf RFC HIC, Dave Morris, are leading an effort to have their staffs jointly develop and implement a system to provide categorical, event-oriented verification statistics on selected river stations. Preliminary discussions are centered on how to merge the Arkansas-Red Basin RFC software with the concepts developed at West Gulf RFC.
HURRICANE FLOYD SERVICE REVIEW. Three members of the Hurricane Floyd Service Assessment Team spent two days at the Southeast RFC in Atlanta the week of October 18 to discuss activities during the event. According to HIC John Feldt, several Southeast RFC staff members presented discussions of contingency forecast preparations, hydrologic products issued, and the numerous coordination and outreach activities.
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Both Corpus Christi and Jacksonville had close calls with potential flooding from tropical systems, but river flooding from these storms remained minimal. Monthly rainfall totals across northeast Florida ranged from 11 to 14 inches in the coastal counties, with some local totals over 16 inches reported. Rains of 7 to 10 inches fell in the inland counties.
Hurricane Bret brought some flooding to the Nueces River in the Corpus Christi HSA during early September. A few forecast points on the Nueces crested 4 to 6 feet above flood stage.
Early September also saw some heavy rain events in the Midland, Texas, HSA. Several homes were damaged from flash flooding, and some evacuations were necessary.
SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION
COMET OUTREACH RFP. The Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) has announced its 2000 Outreach Program Request for Proposals (RFP) for NWS Collaborative Projects. This includes Partners Projects and Cooperative Projects. A description of the projects and the proposal submission requirements can be found on the Web at http://www.comet.ucar.edu/outreach/coop.htm. Proposals are developed by university researchers in collaboration with local NWS offices, and they must be endorsed by the appropriate Regional Director before submission to COMET.
Cooperative Projects are multi-year efforts which generally involve several NWS staff members or offices and university researchers. First drafts of those proposals are due to the appropriate NWS region (SSD) by January 17, 2000. The final version of the proposal must be submitted to the COMET Outreach Program by March 15, 2000. Applications for the smaller (one year) Partners Projects are accepted at any time. Information about how to submit a proposal for a Partners Project can be found at http://www.comet.ucar.edu/outreach/part.htm. For more information, contact Vickie Johnson at COMET (email@example.com), or SSD.
MORE WEB KUDOS. MIC Paul Trotter at NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge recently received the following from a satisfied user of their Web site:
Truly one of the best local NWS websites I have come across. Wealth of info and wonderful graphics. I had no idea you were so short this year in rainfall. Was it a record dry spell for the first 4 or 5 months of the year? I always associate New Orleans/Baton Rouge with copious amounts of precipitation. I see you made up for some of the deficit in June/July/August. Thanks again for a really great storehouse of stats. Keep up the great work.
This illustrates how well the capabilities of a Web site can complement and enhance the more conventional methods we use to communicate information to our customers. Good work, Paul.
At the National Weather Association annual meeting in October, a broadcast meteorologist from Dallas ABC affiliate WFAA-TV passed on appreciation for NWSFO Fort Worth's Web site. She specifically mentioned how many requests for climate information her station receives and how pleased she was that she could refer the callers to the NWS Web site for the basic information they were seeking. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram also publicized the NWSFO Web site during the near record-breaking dry spell last summer. The intent is not to duplicate the mass of climate data available from NCDC, but instead to post comparative information which helps put such unusual events in historical perspective, and thus better serve our customers.
AGGIE RETIREMENTS. Former students and friends will want to know that three retiring faculty at Texas A&M University will be honored in early November. The honorees are: Phanindramohan Das, Dusan Djuric, and John F. Griffiths. Each has had a distinguished career, and as meteorologists we have all benefitted from their work, regardless of whether we had the pleasure of studying under them.
VISIT TELETRAINING. Integrated Sensor Training on four topics, developed and presented by VISIT (Virtual Institute for Satellite Integration Training), will continue to be offered during November. Offices may register for the training sessions at: http://www.cira.colostate.edu/ramm/visit/ecal.asp. Each of the sessions will last about one hour. Topics to be covered are:
The sessions can be viewed in advance by following the download instructions available off the teletraining sign-up page.
REFERENCES FOR FORECASTERS. The latest (October 1999) issue of Weather and Forecasting contains several papers of operational relevance, including the following authored or co-authored by Southern Region forecasters:
Wake Low Severe Wind Events in the Missisippi River Valley: A Case Study of Two Contrasting Events, by David Gaffin (NWSO Morristown).
Descending and Nondescending Tornadic Vortex Signatures Detected by WSR-88Ds, by R.J. Trapp, E.D. Mitchell, G.A. Tipton, D.W. Effertz, A.I. Watson (NWSO Tallahassee), D.L. Andra, Jr. (NWSFO Norman), and M.A. Magsig.
CITY LIMITS BACKGROUND MAPS NOW AVAILABLE FOR SOUTHERN REGION. One of the action items stemming from the Oklahoma/Southern Kansas Service Assessment which followed from the disastrous tornado outbreak last May was for all WFOs in the Southern Region to create and install city limits background maps on their AWIPS. This would be a difficult task for most WFOs as it requires a good working knowledge of ArcView GIS software and possibly hundreds of hours digitizing data from maps. Instead, SSD found an available source of digitized city limits online, which was then downloaded for the entire region. These data were then reprocessed and reorganized into individual CWA files and placed back online so the WFOs could download them and then install on AWIPS.
We're pleased Ken Waters in SSD had the expertise to accomplish this quickly, and thus greatly reduce the workload on the forecast offices in the region. Good work, Ken. The files and images of the data can be accessed online from any "noaa.gov" domain computer at:
NWS PARTNERS PROVIDE SUPPLEMENTAL NUMERICAL MODEL OUTPUT. Last month we reported on the changes in the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) production suite due to the fire which rendered the Cray C-90 inoperable just as the IBM Class VIII computer was scheduled to be moved from the Camp Springs, Maryland site to Bowie, Maryland. While NCEP has continued to provide a suite of numerical guidance run on its other computer systems, NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL) in Boulder, NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in Norman, the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) and U.S. Navy have been providing supplemental numerical model output. All NWS forecasters should be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the various available numerical guidance products.
The FSL is running a version of the RUC-II model on their computers in Boulder and sending the model output to the OSO server for dissemination. However, model output soundings from the RUC-II in the BUFR format are not being processed due to computer limitations.
The NSSL is running a 32 km version of the Eta model using initial conditions provided by NCEP from the 80 km version of the Eta. The NSSL model domain is not as large as the operational Eta - it is about the same size as the old Meso-Eta. Output from these runs is posted to the World Wide Web in three hour increments as it is created, which means that typically the three hour forecast appears between 0400 and 0500 UTC (also 1600 - 1700 UTC) and the 36 hr forecast will come through about 2 ½ -3 hours later.
For the 0000 UTC output, NSSL makes two runs - one with the operational Betts-Miller-Janjic convective parameterization and the second with the Kain-Fritsch (KF) convective scheme. At 1200 UTC, NSSL runs only the KF version of the model due to higher demand on their computers during the day. You can find links to the NSSL model output on the SRH Eta Model Web page:
The NSSL hopes to continue these model runs at least until NCEP is able to resume providing their normal suite of models. One output field that NSSL encourages you to pay special attention to in the KF run is the "updraft mass flux." This is a measure of the convective intensity predicted by the KF scheme and is a much better indicator of, say maximum radar reflectivity, than three hour rainfall. Please let NSSL know if you find this output useful.
The AFWA is providing output from the 0600 and 1800 UTC runs of their MM5 model as backup for the 0600 and 1800 UTC (off-time) 32km NCEP Eta model. The MM5 GRIB forecast fields are delivered to OSO and then mapped into NCEP Eta look-alike GRIB (AWIPS 212/215) grids. The GRIB fields are currently being provided to the field at H+3:15. The current MM5 domain does not entirely cover the Eta domain, especially in the westernmost part of the grid.
The U.S. Navy continues to provide gridded model output from their NOGAPS model for dissemination to NWS field offices. The Navy has also granted all NWS offices access to their password-protected Web pages of NOGAPS output.
The NCEP staff have also been busy! They have ported the full resolution 32 km Eta forecast model and the Eta Data Assimilation System (EDAS) to their developmental SGI Origin 2000 computer system. The Origin 2000 EDAS/Eta-32 began real-time forecasts at 0000 UTC 10/15/99. The Eta-32 forecast runs at the same speed as it did on the Cray C-90 and finishes 30-60 minutes before the Eta-80 backup on the Cray J-90. The NCEP staff are currently developing a robust interface which will substitute Origin 2000 Eta-32 output for Eta-80 output if it is available in time. If these logistical problems can be overcome, then all output files from the Origin 2000 Eta-32 will be used in the NCEP Early suite instead of those from the Eta-80. This would eliminate both sources of current degradation of the early Eta runs at 0000 and 1200 UTC: lower spatial resolution and lack of an EDAS. The BUFR sounding output from the Origin 2000 run is not produced due to time constraints and must continue to come from the J-90 backup run of the 80 km Eta. Interim Web sites have been created to allow viewing the 32 km runs at:
All of us in the NWS appreciate the assistance of our many partners for their assistance during this event.
SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION
NWR TRANSMITTER INSTALLATION. A NOAA Weather Radio 300 watt Crown transmitter has been installed at Brunswick, Georgia. The 30 day test period has been completed and all minor defects with the system have been corrected. These few minor items were corrected by Crown personnel, but none of the corrections had any effect on the normal operation of the transmitter.
This site is in the Jacksonville CWA, so the audio feed will be from the Jacksonville office. A ROAMS has been installed on the system and will be calling into the office after a few days of testing between Crown and NWS Engineering. The Brunswick site is operating on the frequency of 162.425 on 300 watts and the call letters for this site are WWH39.
We would like to recognize everyone involved for the long hours invested making this project a success, and a special thanks to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency project coordinator, Jonna Wheeler. It took many hours of searching to locate tower sites that will meet all of the NWR program requirements. Thanks, Jonna, for an excellent job.
ROAMS. Five more ROAMS were brought online in the Southern Region last month. This brings the total to about 120 systems in the region. The new locations are Tea Table Key, and Key West, Florida; Nashville, Tennessee; and Gurdon, Arkansas.
SOUTHERN REGION SECURITY PLAN. The Security Plan for the Southern Region WAN was delivered to Charles Ratcliff, information technology security officer for the National Weather Service on October 15. This was possible because of an agreement among the regional security focal points to use a standard format for the plans. Special thanks go to Randy Weatherly of the Western Region for providing the initial draft, and Bill Murray of the Eastern Region for negotiating an extension to the deadline for submitting the plans. During the planning process, it became obvious there is a need for more resources to manage the growing information technology infrastructure and to deal with the increasing threat to the security of that infrastructure. The day we tied into the Internet and began using it to enhance our operations, information technology became a much greater challenge, and that continues to grow at a rapid pace.
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MESSAGING PROGRESS. During the latest NWS Messaging Teleconference held October 20, there was some good news and some bad news. First the bad news. It was announced that Bill Dunty and Annie Peregory, two of the primary contractors hired to handle the migration to Netscape Messaging are resigning from their positions with NWS. This is a setback for the program at a critical juncture in the migration. Because of this and Y2K issues which will carry over into mid-January of next year, the latest preliminary time line shows implementation to begin around February 1, 2000, for the regional offices, with a completion date of June 30, 2000. The good news is that these dates are looking more firm, now. There has been a successful test of the directory replication from the tier 1, 2, and 3 directory servers. NWS has also decided to obtain more support from Netscape to get us through the migration phase. Many different training issues are also being investigated to address the need for administrator, account operator, and end-user training. A message of interest to all NWS employees (the user community) should be delivered in the near future. The next Messaging Teleconference is scheduled for mid-January.
AFOS TO AWIPS TRANSITION. Southern Region is beginning its transition to AFOS in earnest this month. Computer systems currently interfaced with AFOS will be switched to AWIPS one system at a time, region-wide. This means all sites will start with upper air, then move on to ASOS, their office LANs, the Weather Wire, etc. All interfaces should be off of AFOS by the end of the calendar year. Bruce Marshak and Matt Strahan will be the contact points for support as we move each interface from AFOS.
However, this transition to AWIPS does not signal the immediate demise of AFOS. Sites can expect to keep their AFOS going, as a backup, until they commission their AWIPS in 2000. During the time when both systems are running, sites need to verify they are receiving all necessary products on AWIPS, and their users are receiving all necessary products from AWIPS. This verification will be the main basis for commissioning AWIPS. In support of this effort, software in place at the NWS communications gateway will monitor receipt of each site's AWIPS generated products. Statistics from this software, called PAMS, will be available soon.
SOUTHERN REGION FTS2001 TRANSITION UNDERWAY. The FTS2001 Transition initiative is currently underway. Most have read or heard about the NWS transition from AT&T to MCI WorldCom as the long distance service provider. Currently, we are in the process of converting the federal calling cards to MCI. This involves inventorying and verifying information to ensure a card is issued to each Southern Region employee who currently has authorization to use one. We are also working on the transition phase of the toll-free 800 number service at this time. Each number has to be verified to ensure its accuracy and in-use status. We appreciate the assistance of the ESAs in helping to verify these toll-free numbers. The administrative support assistants (ASAs) in each office have also contributed immensely. We thank all of you who are helping to make the Southern Region transition a smooth process.
TRANSITION POWER SHELTER INSTALLATION SCHEDULE. These are the latest Transition Power Shelter installation dates. They are tentative and are subject to change.
|Birmingham||November 1, 1999||Corpus Christi||January 31, 2000|
|Memphis||November 15, 1999||Jacksonville||February 14, 2000|
|Melbourne||January 4, 2000||Norman||March 13, 2000|
|Lubbock||January 10, 2000||Tulsa||April 3, 2000|
|Key West||January 24, 2000||Ft. Smith||May 8, 2000|
AUSTIN/SAN ANTONIO OFFICE VISIT. On October 14, Mario Valverde, Systems Integration Branch chief, and Martin Garcia, Electronics Program Manager, visited NWSFO Austin/San Antonio to meet with the management team and the electronics staff to solicit feedback from them on the support their office receives from Southern Region Headquarters. This office provides an excellent example of how the electronics program should be managed in a WFO, and we're pleased they are satisfied with our support.
While in the area, Mario and Martin also visited with staff at the Holiday Inn Riverwalk in San Antonio to discuss accommodations for the Southern Region ESA/RMS/SFT conference. The conference is scheduled for the week of February 7, 2000.
HURRICANE JOSE IMPACTS THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS. The center of hurricane Jose passed just to the east of the U.S. Virgin Islands in late October. The commissioned ASOS site located at Cyril E. King Airport in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, performed well during the event, and suffered no damage from Jose. It recorded a peak wind of 52 mph during the event.
NWSO KEY WEST ASSUMES SURFACE OBSERVATION DUTIES. On October 1, NWSO Key West assumed the responsibility of augmentation and backup of the commissioned ASOS site located at Key West International Airport. They were put to the test within a few weeks, when hurricane Irene passed nearby. The Key West office handled both the transition and hurricane Irene with flying colors.
ASOS SOFTWARE VERSION 2.6 INSTALLATION BEGINS. The most recent ASOS software upgrade (version 2.6) is now available for installation at unstaffed Service Level D locations. One of the most noticeable features of this new software version is that it will enable the reporting of lightning information from unstaffed locations. The Automated Lightning Detection and Ranging System will interface with ASOS sites that have v2.6 software installed, and enable the reporting of cloud to ground lightning strikes which occur within 30 miles.
The requisite EPROMS and upgrades needed for installation of the software have been sent by NWSH Office of Systems Operations directly to the electronics technicians at each WFO.
TELECOMMUNICATIONS SERVICE PRIORITY FOR NEXRAD. The availability of WSR-88D data at our WFOs and RFCs is critical to accomplishment of our core mission. To this end, the NWS has contracted with Sprint to be the sole provider of radar data from remote WSR-88D locations to WFOs. As a refresher, below are some tips provided by a Sprint network service manager on what steps a WFO should follow when reporting NEXRAD circuit problems to Sprint.
ARCHIVE LEVEL II UPDATE. The OSF Engineering Branch received an e-mail from NCDC showing what appears to be errors in archive Level II data. The errors appear to be missing left-most bits in some of the radial header information, causing the time to appear to go backwards occasionally. Research indicates the data bits are being dropped by the Exabyte hardware device during the recording process. It is possible the missing left-most bits may contaminate significant areas of the radar data. This has happened at one Southern Region WFO, and appears to be due to hardware problems. The WFO cannot detect this problem, since alarms do not occur. NCDC will try to monitor this to the best of their ability. A Request for Technical Information (RTI) #26353 has been generated and sent to the OSF hotline. We will provide information on this RTI to the field when available.
UNIT CONTROL POSITION TRANSITION. NWSO Jacksonville has been identified as the site at which the functionality of transferring control of the WSR-88D Unit Control Position (UCP) from the DOD to the NWS will be tested and verified. The modifications note has just been written by OSF Engineering, and will be kit-proofed at the WFO.
It is anticipated the data circuit interfacing the Moody AFB (KVAX) WSR-88D and NWSO Jacksonville will be in place in late November. After the appropriate troubleshooting and local coordination, if all goes well, the Jacksonville office will assume UCP functionality and control over the KVAX radar. Based on results at Jacksonville, it is anticipated the remaining twelve Southern Region WFOs will assume the UCP functionality over an existing DOD NEXRAD site and will then be in a position to begin this transition early in 2000. The WFOs which will assume this responsibility should have already begun discussion and planning as necessary with the Unit Radar Committee which currently exists for that specific DOD radar site.
MIAMI UPS FAILURE. On October 15, as tropical storm Irene passed over the Florida peninsula, the National Hurricane Center and Miami WFO experienced an electrical outage which disabled most of the operational systems. The station generators detected the outage, started up and transferred from utility to emergency power. During the transfer, two of the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) battery breakers tripped causing a momentary loss of power.
Upon inspection of the facility, it was determined a ground fault or power surge was the most probable cause of failure. A modification of the input electrical wiring of these units, and the replacement of all the batteries was done in order to increase reliability and reduce possibility of future failures. In addition, three new UPS units have been ordered to replace the older systems.
ASSET MANAGEMENT SYSTEM INSTALLATION. Representatives from Datastream Inc. installed and configured the new SOD Enterprise asset management software last month. They also installed and configured the Oracle Enterprise database software and the Web server. There are still several months of software tailoring scheduled before the anticipated roll out in early spring 2000. Additional software training for the SOD core team who will manage this system was provided at SRH the first week of November.
SEVEN OFFICES COMPLETED THE FISCAL YEAR WITH ZERO MISSING DATA. The NWSOs at Lake Charles, Morristown, San Angelo, Shreveport, and Tampa Bay, and NWSFOs at New Orleans/Baton Rouge and Tulsa were able to collect and forward all B91/92/83a forms (CD) and all hourly precipitation records to NCDC in time for publication each month during the past fiscal year. Several other offices completed the fiscal year with missing data percentages well below 1%. The regional average missing data percentage was 1.3% for climatological data and 1.9% for hourly precipitation data. Congratulations to all who helped meet this high standard.
NEW GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM. Receivers were provided to each WFO to support their data acquisition programs. The new systems have limited mapping capability in addition to improved accuracy in determining the latitude and longitude of the data collection points. These units will also be used in support of other programs at the offices.
NWS COOPERATIVE OBSERVER HOME PAGE. An NWS Cooperative Observer home page is being developed at NWSH. This page has many interesting links and should be a valuable resource for the management of the program. The URL is: http://www.coop.nws.noaa.gov/.
RADIOSONDE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM. Information on the Radiosonde Replacement System and monthly performance statistics are available on the Internet at: http://www.ua.nws.noaa.gov/. This information is kept as current as possible and all upper air offices should access this information on a routine basis. NWSO Nashville is assisting in this modernization effort by reviewing the developmental software. A prototype of the surface observing sensors will be tested at NWSO El Paso in the near future.
UPPER AIR PERFORMANCE STATISTICS. Performance statistics show nearly half of the Southern Region upper air sites are not achieving flights above 400mba at a rate of at least 95%. This is the nationally recognized standard for all offices. During the period of June - August, 1999, eleven Southern Region offices did not meet those standards. A review of equipment, supplies and procedures is underway in an attempt to find ways to improve the regional performance.
ROOF INSPECTIONS - SAN JUAN AND MIAMI. Last month, Terry Brisbin (OFB) requested that an architect specializing in roof design visit NWSFOs San Juan and Miami to assess the need for roof repairs or replacement to eliminate leaks caused by heavy rains. After a two-day inspection at San Juan, numerous potential leakage sites were identified and temporary patches made until a more extensive repair can be made by a roofing contractor.
The architect then proceeded to Miami and met facilities technician John Moss for an inspection of the leak locations identified the previous week during periods of heavy rainfall associated with hurricane Irene. He found the roof at Miami to be in good condition with suspect leakage paths in the concrete construction details which can be sealed. The resulting reports for both Miami and San Juan will be forwarded to MASC for action by qualified contractors for repairs at each facility.
ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION
DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES
NWSFO FORT WORTH. MIC Skip Ely conducted an office tour for an introductory meteorology class from Brookhaven College in Dallas. The tour was arranged by Greg Fields of WFAA-TV Channel 8, who is co-teaching the course. Eleven students were in attendance, eight were female.
MIC Skip Ely, forecaster Joe Harris, and service hydrologist Ernie Cathey conducted three separate tours for the Providence Christian School in Dallas. There were approximately 15 children and four adults in each group (about 57 total). About half were female, and about 10 students were from various minority groups.
METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES DIVISION. On October 5, Ken Graham spoke with students at Mississippi State University, focusing on all the improvements associated with National Weather Service modernization. Ken explained the forecast, warning, aviation, marine, fire weather, and climatology aspects of NWS operations, and the vast data management system comprising PILS, WMO headers, etc. Ken also stressed the importance of working together as partners to save life and property and he encouraged the students to visit their nearest NWS office. About 20 students attended, several of whom expressed a desire to work for the NWS, including a meteorology graduate from Jackson State who had worked as a student volunteer at NWSO Mobile.
NWSO TALLAHASSEE. Senior forecaster Ron Block provided a lecture and question and answer session to 22 Tallahassee area Cub Scouts and their parents on the causes of "good and bad" weather, hurricanes and tornadoes, equipment and how to forecast--all necessary to earn their science merit badges. The session was followed by an office tour to familiarize them with NWS technology.
SOUTHERN REGION WORKFORCE TRANSACTIONS
OCTOBER 1-31, 1999
|Southern Region Losses|
|Name||From (Office)||Action/Transfer||From Title/Grade|
|Janet Trimbur||NWSFO LZK||Reas to AR||HMT, GS-11|
|Ryan Cutter||NWSFO LZK||Reas to WR||Met Intern, GS-5|
|Mark Deutschendorf||NWSO SJT||Reas to WR||Forecaster, GS-12|
|Gary Davey||WSO MCN||Retirement||WCO, GS-11|
|Barry Baxter||NWSFO FFC||Expiration of Appt.||Met Intern, GS-5|
|Southern Region Gains|
|Name||To (Office)||Action/Transfer||To Title/Grade|
|John DeBlock||NWSFO BMX||Reas from WR||Forecaster, GS-12|
|Matthew Shameson||NWSO TAE||New Hire||Met Intern, GS-7|
|Kenneth Daniel||NWSO JAX||New Hire||Met Intern, GS-7|
|Within Region Transfers/Actions|
|Name||To (Office)||Action/Transfer||To Title/Grade|
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