UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas
October 1, 1996
AMS AWARDS. We have received the following information about this year's awards presented by the American Meteorological Society:
Greg Jackson (SOO, NWSO San Angelo) has received the Francis W. Reichelderfer Award for distinguished public service. Congratulations, Greg, on this prestigious honor. Greg was cited for his computer applications work which has resulted in significant enhancements to the NWS mission. Since the award was first presented in 1983, seven of the 14 recipients are, or have been, Southern Region employees. This award honors F.W. Reichelderfer, who was Chief of the U.S. Weather Bureau for more than four decades.
The Spaceflight Meteorology Group at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, headed by Frank Brody, received the AMS Special Award for their outstanding support of the nation's manned spaceflight program. The nature of the group's support is unique--especially the critical return from orbit forecast which leaves no room for error. In the words of a NASA flight director, "We ask these guys to do the impossible, and they deliver." Congratulations, Frank and all on the SMG staff.
Awards will be presented at the AMS Annual Meeting in Long Beach, California, next February.
CONGRATULATIONS. An Operations Team from NWSFO Little Rock has been selected for providing the best products and services for this inaugural year of the Southern Region Service Enhancement Project (SEP). An independent committee composed of two television meteorologists, two emergency managers, and one radio meteorologist (from Texas to Florida) reviewed the submissions and chose "The Stone/Izard County, Arkansas Tornado" (April 14, 1996) as the best "handled" event. The Operations team composed of John Lewis, Chuck Rickard, John Robinson, Jeff Borzilleri, and David Matson will receive a cash award for their efforts. I will visit the Little Rock office to present an office plaque in their honor.
NWSO Melbourne's products and services for August 1-2, 1995, for "The Landfall of Hurricane Erin" were chosen second, while NWSFO New Orleans was selected third for the "Ice Storm and Arctic Outbreak across Louisiana during February 1-5, 1996." Each office will receive a plaque honoring this achievement.
This is a special project because NWS customers chose the recipients of the award. I believe everyone benefits when we receive feedback from the people actually using our products and services. Thank you to all who participated and for the fine forecast and warning efforts.
EDWARD H. STOLL AWARD. During the week of September 16, 1996, I was privileged to meet and recognize Mr. Tony Albers of Union City, Oklahoma, for having completed 50 years as an NWS Cooperative Observer. The staff of NWSFO Norman arranged a very nice ceremony for Mr. Albers and his family and friends. Mr. Albers was typical of so many of our dedicated observers, in that he was very humble about his contributions. Meeting these folks is one of the real pleasures of my job; and, I had the definite impression, the HMTs and others at the Norman NWS office who work with the observers feel the same way.
WEB WORKSHOP. Also during the week of September 16, we held a Southern Region Web Workshop. The meeting in Fort Worth brought together representatives of our field forecast offices for the purpose of discussing ideas regarding Home Pages and Internet usage, in general. Internet is an exciting new communications tool which will have many applications in the National Weather Service. Unfortunately, the system can also be abused. Today, I signed a letter to Southern Region employees advising against accessing inappropriate material while in the NWS work environment. If you have not seen the letter, ask your supervisor to provide you a copy. It is important you understand and heed our policy.
POLICY ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT. I have been asked by our Southern Region EEO Committee to reiterate our regional policy on sexual harassment.
Sexual Harassment in any form is not acceptable in any NWS office and will not be tolerated. There is no excuse for any behavior that creates a hostile work environment for any member of the office. All employees are entitled to work in an environment free of sexual harassment and we all need to do our part in ensuring sexual harassment is ended.
Sexual harassment workshops have been held at most Southern Region field offices. The remaining six offices are scheduled to receive this training by the end of 1996.
Do you really know what sexual harassment is? It is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature; when, 1) an individual's rejection of such conduct, or submission to it, is used as a basis for employment decisions that affect the employee; or, 2) the unwelcome conduct interferes with an employee's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment can take on many subtle forms. The key word is unwelcome. If a co-worker finds your jokes offensive, that can be sexual harassment. Cutting out suggestive news articles or advertisements and giving them to a co-worker can be sexual harassment. Even actions like hugs or shoulder rubs can be sexual harassment when they are unwelcome. Here's an example of what may seem harmless, but is, in reality, sexual harassment. A case decided by the circuit court of appeals in California in 1991 involved a male employee who desired a relationship with a coworker and sent her unsolicited notes about his feelings. The court had to decide whether his conduct had altered the conditions of the coworker's employment by subjecting her to an abusive working environment. In making its determination, this court applied the reasonable woman standard (rather than a reasonable person standard), noting that in evaluating the seriousness of harassment "we should focus on the perspective of the victim." (Sexual Harassment in the Federal Workplace, U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board, October, 1995.)
This may all seem confusing, but it really is not. If you are uncertain of your actions, ask. Your co-worker should oblige you with an honest answer. If she, or he, finds it offensive--stop. If you witness actions that may be sexual harassment at your office, report it to a supervisor. It really is that simple. If you plan on continuing to sexually harass your co-worker after she, or he, has made it clear that the attention is unwelcome, be prepared to face the consequences.
MODERNIZATION TRANSITION COMMITTEE MEETING. The Modernization Transition Committee (MTC) met in Asheville on September 19. Ten consolidation certifications were endorsed by the committee, including two Southern Region sites--WSOs Baton Rouge and Montgomery. This brings the total number of Southern Region consolidation certifications endorsed by the MTC to 20. Twelve Southern Region WSOs remain: Austin and Athens (both of which will be presented to the December meeting of the MTC), Meridian, Augusta, Savannah, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Victoria, Huntsville, Chattanooga, Fort Smith, and Key West.
The MTC reviewed proposed closure certification criteria, which was published in the Federal Register on June 6. The MTC recommended the adoption of the closure criteria based on the conclusions that the criteria for closure are consistent with the need to maintain timely and accurate weather services, and when applied, the criteria will prove no degradation of weather services. The MTC will consider closure certifications during their March 1997 meeting. It is anticipated that 30 Southern Region closure certifications will be presented at that time.
The MTC also consulted on the automation certification criteria for the 27 NWS service level "D" locations. Remember that the committee approved the automation certification criteria for service level "A", "B", and "C" locations at their June meeting. The Southern Region service level "D" sites are Victoria, Tupelo, and Wichita Falls. The addition of a freezing-rain sensor and a lightning sensor were additional criteria proposed for most of these service level "D" sites. In addition to these extra sensors, an Aviation Automation Survey will be conducted at the 27 sites. The survey will be conducted for 120 days during the Spring 1997 severe weather season. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association's Air Safety Foundation (ASF), NWS, and FAA will develop the survey, which the ASF plans to mail to approximately 30,000 pilots affected.
SITE OF NEW NORTHEASTERN ALABAMA WSR-88D ANNOUNCED. News media and emergency managers from northern Alabama and southeastern Tennessee met at the Hytop City Hall in Alabama September 23, and then proceeded up State Highway 79 to the site of the new northeastern Alabama WSR-88D. Representative Cramer of Alabama, Representative Wamp of Tennessee, and Dr. Friday were among the dignitaries present for the occasion. Jim McCamy, Jackson County Alabama emergency manager, hosted the event. NWSO Knoxville/Tri-Cities MIC Jerry McDuffie and NWSFO Birmingham WCM Brian Peters were in attendance, as well as staff from WSO Huntsville.
The new WSR-88D will provide excellent coverage of severe weather phenomena in the northern Alabama, southeastern Tennessee, and northwestern Georgia regions. The October 1995 Secretary's Report identified this area as an area of radar degradation. Equipment delivery is scheduled for spring 1997, with the radar operational by late summer 1997.
NWR NOTES. First and foremost, I (Max) would like to take this opportunity to thank Ken Graham (MSD NWR "STAR") for all his excellent help in the NWR program the past three months. It was a wonderful experience to work with him. You'll see the results of many of his activities soon. Some have dubbed him "Max Junior." It remains to be determined if that is a compliment! I appreciate SRH establishing the STAR Program, selecting Ken as a participant to work with me, and NWSFO New Orleans sparing him to come to Ft. Worth during the peak of the hurricane season.
Things continue to happen in the NWR arena. T.L. Farrow has installed the Digital console and SAME at NWSO Amarillo (9 Digitals to go), and installed the final 3 SAMEs at NWSFO Norman (51 SAMEs are in, 44 to go). Installation work has begun on the Eastpoint and Salem, FL, expansion sites. Tower replacement has delayed the completion of the Kerrville and Llano, TX, NWRs until December or January. Lawrenceburg, TN, is on a "test" basis. The Russellville, AR, nuclear power plant NWR is expected to be operational by year's end. NWR relocations are in progress in Atlanta, Fort Worth, and Jackson. Updated NWR/SAME and EAS (Emergency Alert System) information should be available soon. The NWR ROML is being updated. An important System Integration Test for the NWR Console Replacement System (CRS) is scheduled at NWSH in late October.
SUPER NOVA--SOON TO BE BURNT OUT STAR. My time as STAR has run out. I acquired a phenomenal amount of NWR information while I was here at SRH. In addition, there is one item I learned about first hand. There is a bunch of work that goes on behind the scenes here at SRH. Not only did I work on various projects, I got to be a part of the "everyday" work which resembles "severe weather mode" at times.
Seems like I only had time to scratch the surface of NWR; well actually, more like scratch and sniff. There are a bundle of behind the scene activities concerning NWR. NWR leases, contracts, maintenance, transmitters, buildings, lease payments, SAME, EAS, ROAMS, CRS, digital consoles, racks, programming, promotion, and many more items are just some of the things involved with NWR. Before my time as STAR, I did not realize there was much more than equipment and programming. My STAR eyes have been opened and toothpicks will keep them open in the future. An NWR promotion guide will be coming out soon. It was fun to put it together. Don't forget, the list is only partial, since it is only bound by imagination. When you see it, add to it!
Thanks to all the people at SRH for making me a part of the TEAM! Thanks to the COOP folks in SOD for the cubicle and putting up with my NWR phone conversations. Thanks MSD for making me part of your team. Thanks Max White for all the help and teaching me the inner workings of NWR. By the way, he does do an NWR dance when things go well! I have witnesses! Thanks to all the folks that sent me cc:mail messages concerning NWR promotion and ideas for the future. Thanks to Paul Trotter and crew at LIX for working with the schedule while I was gone.
I will continue to work with NWR in the future. I have some more ideas and hope to keep hearing from everybody concerning NWR promotion and ideas. NWR has more potential now than ever before. With some teamwork, we can really make a difference with NWR's relationship with the public.
TWEB STATUS. The NWS is preparing to send a final list of TWEB routes to the FAA for their approval. As many are aware, the FAA is expected to ask the NWS to discontinue forecasts for over 100 routes nationwide.
On September 20, MSD forwarded an electronic message to each field office requesting a review of the methodology for transferring the remaining 28 regional route forecasts to our spin-up NWSOs. We have received comments from a number of offices and are now submitting our final apportionment plan to NWS Headquarters.
A ROML is in final review at SRH that will provide guidelines for the transfer of TWEB forecast service to the NWSOs. The time frame under which these transfers will occur is dependent upon a number of factors, including the date that the FAA approves the final route structure, the amount of time needed to train NWSO personnel on writing TWEB forecasts, and notification of the user community regarding the service transfers. With the first of these factors still unknown, it is quite likely that the transfer process will not begin before the first of next calendar year.
AUTO D-27. Curt Morton, MIC at CWSU ZJX, has developed a WordPerfect 6.1 macro to prepare D-27 Familiarization Flight trip reports. The macro has been tested at SRH and works extremely well. We understand that the macro was designed for version 6.1 of WordPerfect because of the software's capability in handling graphics.
Instructions on how to implement and run the macro were forwarded to all field offices via electronic mail. For those offices operating WordPerfect 6.1, if you have not yet installed the macro, consider doing so. It makes the tedious process of preparing the trip reports much easier.
EXEMPLARY FAM REPORT. Karl Silverman, meteorologist at SMG, recently completed his first FAM Flight. Included as an attachment are Karl's reports for the various legs of the flight, along with a nice letter of appreciation to USAir. It is obvious from the reports that Karl did a good job of preparing himself in advance for his interaction with the flight crews and found the entire experience quite educational.
The FAM Flight program, of which participation is a privilege extended to NWS meteorologists working in the aviation forecast program, is designed to help meteorologists gain a better understanding of the effects of weather on flight operations. Participants are accountable to report their experience so that other forecasters in particular, and the NWS as a whole, can benefit from the knowledge gained.
One of the best ways to ensure a profitable experience is through the promoting of a dialogue with the flight crews. Don't expect the flight crews to initiate this discussion. Instead, consider beforehand what issue(s) related to aviation weather you would like the crews to comment on and what information you can provide them regarding NWS products and services (handouts work well here). Use your list of issues as a launching point for the information exchange. Most flight crews are eager to share their experiences, but often need prompting to do so.
GOES-9 CONTINGENCY. There exists a possibility that the GOES-9 imager could fail prior to the launch of GOES-K (now slated for June 1997). NESDIS and NWS Headquarters personnel have spent a great deal of time considering, with input from the regions, the best course of action to take to minimize the impact on NWS operations should the failure occur. The option receiving the most attention at present is the placement of the GOES-8 spacecraft at 98 degrees W. This appears to provide the best coverage for everyone concerned.
Of course, this does compromise somewhat our view of tropical systems approaching Puerto Rico from the east and this has been considered. There may be some supplementary coverage provided by Meteosat (now at 0 degrees W) if arrangements can be made to move the spacecraft west a few degrees, but this has presently not been worked out with the European authorities.
The GOES-9 sounder appears healthy at present and can produce visible and IR imagery, but at a lower spatial resolution. The spacecraft is expected to maintain its 135 degrees W location to supply Alaska and Hawaii with this imagery.
NWR GOES TO SCHOOL. Jack Mercer (NWSO El Paso WCM) is facilitating a major expansion of NWR coverage throughout the second largest school district in El Paso. The Yeletta Independent School District, including 55 schools and nearly 43,000 students, has committed to becoming an "All NWR District." The school district's safety officer has agreed to purchase 75 NWR receivers for placement in schools and administration buildings. Hopefully this initiative will spread to additional districts in the El Paso and other areas.
ALBUQUERQUE WEATHER SAFETY IN THE NEWSPAPER. Keith Hayes (NWSFO Albuquerque WCM) developed a one-page flyer describing the hazardous weather elements which threaten New Mexico. The flyer also briefly outlines safety tips and how to receive hazardous weather information (including EMWIN). Keith reported that 500,000 copies of the flyer were placed in copies of the Albuquerque Journal and Tribune newspapers.
EMWIN NEWS. Gary Woodall (SRH WCM) and Renee Fair (NWSFO Little Rock WCM) presented an EMWIN demonstration at the Arkansas State Emergency Managers' Conference. The conference covered many aspects of emergency management, from search and rescue to wildfire operations to dealing with paramilitary groups. However, due to the tornadoes in Stone and Izard County and Fort Smith this spring, weather services and support were a predominant theme of the conference. The EMWIN demonstration was fairly well received, as approximately 20 emergency managers visited the booth and picked up information.
Keith Hayes (ABQ WCM) conducted a similar EMWIN demonstration at the New Mexico State Emergency Managers' Conference. Despite some minor fluctuations in the EMWIN data stream, Keith reported that interest is high in New Mexico regarding EMWIN's potential. Approximately 40 emergency managers inquired about the system and received printed information.
WSR-88D WORKSHOP. Andrew Patrick (SOO), John Cole (WCM), and John Metz of NWSO Corpus Christi held a WSR-88D Users' Workshop at the NWS Office. Four sessions were held during the workshop, covering topics such as WSR-88D products and their interpretation, NIDS vendors, and several case studies. Over 30 representatives from the media and government agencies attended the workshop. The attendees were pleased with the workshop and were impressed with the capabilities demonstrated by the WSR-88D.
HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS. Some highlights from across the region...
Roger Erickson (WCM) and Todd Mogged (HMT) of NWSO Lake Charles presented a hurricane safety program at the Citgo plant in Sulphur, LA. The Hurricane Andrew slide set was used to demonstrate the impacts of a major hurricane along the Louisiana coast. Roger and Todd delivered a total of five one-hour presentations during the day, with a combined attendance of nearly 600.
Frank Revitte made a hurricane preparedness presentation to the New Orleans Chapter of the International Facility Mangers Association (IFMA). The IFMA consists of property managers in the local area, representing both the public and private sectors. The presentation covered hurricane climatology and an overview of hurricane hazards (storm surge, wind, rain and flooding, and tornadoes). After Frank's presentation, New Orleans EMC Bob Eichorn outlined the city's hurricane response plan.
HYDROLOGIC UPDATE. Most recent Palmer Drought Index information (week of September 14, 1996) revealed near normal conditions throughout a large part of the Southern Region. New Mexico has mostly above normal moisture conditions with the exception of the northwest corner which continues in extreme drought. Southwestern Oklahoma is also wetter than normal, as is the Oklahoma Panhandle. Moderate to occasionally severe drought areas are appearing in Florida, much of Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas. After much above normal August and early September rains, Texas, while in a continued long-term hydrologic drought, is showing up as near normal on the Palmer Drought Index.
HURRICANE HORTENSE UPDATE. The NWS Survey team that toured Puerto Rico following the passage of Hurricane Hortense on September 9-10, reported 21 storm related fatalities, mostly caused by flash flooding and mudslides.
TULSA WORKSHOP. The last of four regional Heavy Precip/QPF Workshops is being concluded as this issue of Topics is being prepared. Early indications are that the workshop was a great success. Mother nature provided its own training element of sorts as heavy rain developed on the night of September 25, and continued into the 26th across northeast Oklahoma and surrounding areas. Serious flooding ensued. The event was substituted for a QPF case study Steve Amburn ( NWSFO Tulsa SOO) had prepared to present. Complete details on the workshop and flooding will be included in the next issue.
PEACHTREE CITY WORKSHOP. The third of four Advanced Techniques in Heavy Precipitation and Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting workshops was held Monday through Wednesday, September 16-18 at the collocated NWSFO/SERFC in Peachtree City, Georgia. The workshop was attended by forecasters, service hydrologists, hydrologic focal points, and QPF focal points from NWSFOs in Birmingham, San Juan, and Miami, and NWSOs in Morristown, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Tampa Bay, and Melbourne. Invited speakers included lead forecasters Alan Johnson and John Guiney from NWSFO New Orleans, forecaster Marty Mullen from NWSFO Lubbock, Regional Hydrologist Noreen Schwein from Central Region Headquarters, Dr. Chris Herbster, a post doctorate working at the NWSO in Tallahassee, and Dr. Kelvin Droegemeier from the University of Oklahoma. The workshop was well received by all attendees with early assessments of their critiques revealing an appreciation for the job senior HAS forecaster Judi Bradberry did in organizing the event. Thanks to Dave Helms (HIC) and Carlos Garza (MIC) for allowing more visitors into their offices (especially just after the Olympics) and to the staffs of the NWSFO/RFC for having to put up with the distractions of having about 20 people roaming around for three days.
AWIPS TRAINING COMPLETED. Dave Schwertz (Service Hydrologist, NWSO Houston) and Mike Van Tress (Service Hydrologist, NWSO Medford) conducted AWIPS training at the Tulsa NWSFO on September 17-18. The training focused on the techniques of how to use the Hydrologic Forecast System component in AWIPS. Similar training will be conducted at each office following the installation and acceptance of AWIPS as it gets deployed across the country.
WGRFC SERVICE PACKAGE. Bob Corby (DOH, RFC Fort Worth) has written a technical attachment that appears at the end of this issue in which he describes the River Forecast Service Package he helped develop at WGRFC. (Also see 7/1/96 and 6/15/96 issues of the TOPICS.)
REGIONAL WEB WORKSHOP. Southern Region took a big step forward by sponsoring the first ever, regional Web Workshop. The workshop was held at Fort Worth, Texas, on September 19-20, 1996. Approximately 40 representatives from almost every WFO, RFC, and CWSU attended. The Space Flight Meteorology Group (SMG) was also represented along with various members of Southern Region Headquarters. The workshop was designed to provide an open forum allowing for presentations and discussions covering the applied technologies and policy considerations related to the World Wide Web. The goal of the workshop was to establish a solid foundation across the region as we begin to enhance our mission capability through the effective use of this exciting new communication media. Thanks to everyone who contributed to making this a great success!
NEWS FROM OUR HYDROLOGIC SERVICE AREAS
Near Normal in New Orleans. Dave Smith, Service Hydrologist NWSFO NEW, reports widespread August rains in the seven to nine inch range across parts of the New Orleans HSA. Most of the rain fell during the middle of the month as a weak stationary frontal boundary settled in over the area. All rivers were within bank flows except for the Atchafalaya and Mississippi, which had been near bankfull and in minor flood over their lower reaches in late July, but fell steadily to near normal summer flow by the end of August.
Big Rains in Texas Welcome. As mentioned above, Texas received widespread heavy rains in August. The rains led to a temporary alleviation of the long-term drought residents have had to cope with this year. Recently received information from Freddy Vega in Brownsville and John Patton in San Antonio reveal some impressive rain totals were registered in south Central and deep South Texas. Brownsville recorded 5.77 inches during August, which is three inches above normal for the month. With the rain, Brownsville has 7.22 inches for the year, still about half of normal. However, through the end of July the city was 12% of normal for the year! San Antonio, even with heavy rains associated with the remnants of Hurricane Dolly, is just below 50% of normal with Del Rio around 60% of year to date normal. Reservoir levels remain incredibly low, especially in Mexico, as runoff from the recent rains worked mostly into the ground and into the smaller tributaries and reservoirs feeding into the Rio Grande.
The LaBoquilla Reservoir is the first of three reservoirs in the Rio Conchos drainage and is 2.5 times larger than the other two reservoirs combined. This reservoir increased from 14% capacity to 47% capacity in August. Elsewhere, the Venustiana Carranza and Marte Gomez reservoirs each fell to near 4% capacity. Lake Amistad is only near 33% capacity with Choke Canyon Reservoir near 25% and Lake Corpus Christi at 33%.
Post Olympic Precipitation. Data compiled by Gary Butler, Service Hydrologist NWSFO Peachtree City, revealed above normal precipitation in the Peachtree City HSA. Gary's information showed the rainfall was 13% above normal as 21 sites in the area received an average of 5.52 inches for August, while the normal is 4.58 inches. There was, however, an area of heavier rains. From western Georgia to the northern suburbs of Atlanta, nine to ten inch rains fell with about half of these amounts falling in a four hour period earlier in the month. This heavy rain resulted in flash flooding with several secondary roads around Douglasville, Georgia, washed out.
More Wet Weather News. Above normal rainfall occurred over the Tallahassee HSA in August. A persistent upper level trough over the Southeast during the first half of the month resulted in numerous showers and thunderstorms. The rains helped generate rises on some rivers that were at low stages as the month began. An excessive rain event, producing over five inches in 24 hours, led to significant rises on the Choctawatchee River at Newton, Alabama. According to Bob Carle, Service Hydrologist NWSO Tallahassee, the river rose 13.5 feet in just six hours due to the deluge.
CSTAR REVIEW. Last week the Office of Meteorology hosted the first Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research (CSTAR) Program Workshop at NWS Headquarters. Included were representatives from universities across the country who are engaged in activities supported by the NWS through cooperative institutes or COMET grants, along with regional and NWSH participants who are involved in providing the support. A few SOOs were also in attendance, including Pat Welsh (Jacksonville). The attendees described accomplishments and ongoing activities which left no doubt that there is a remarkable amount of productive interaction underway at many--if not most--NWS offices; ranging from seminars to techniques development, to applications of high resolution mesoscale models in the WFOs.
There are clear indications of how all this university interaction has resulted in improved services from the NWS offices, and also enhanced knowledge on the part of our forecasters. From the university perspective, they have gained a new understanding of NWS forecast operations, as well as access to the wealth of new and research-quality atmospheric data that results from NWS modernization. Profs. Kevin Kloesel (CITM/FSU) and Dick Orville (CIAMS/Texas A&M) ably represented the SR institutes. They also showed how cooperative institutes can spread the idea of collaboration to many offices, not just collocated sites.
All of the individuals in the Southern Region, including the cooperative institutes, involved in collaborative projects should take a bow, because it is also clear that success in all this would not be possible without tremendous personal commitment and dedication.
DACFO. Nezette Rydell (NWSFO Austin/San Antonio), the Southern Region representative on the Director's Advisory Committee on Forecast Operations, has initiated the annual process of coordinating with local office focal points to solicit input and comments on relevant issues. Each spring the DACFO members gather at NWS Headquarters to share input from field offices directly with program managers and NWSH Office Directors. Nezette recently sent (by e:Mail) topical information to all NWSFOs and NWSOs. Contact her directly to provide input.
DR. KALNAY STEPS DOWN AT NCEP. Eugenia Kalnay, for the past decade Director of the NCEP Environmental Modeling Center (and its predecessor, NMC's Development Division), will step down from the position (but not leave EMC) next April. She has been the leader of a group at "NMC" which has achieved remarkable success during that decade. The following is an excerpt from a letter to members of her division announcing the decision. It is worth sharing to call attention both to the progress in our science, and the contributions of Eugenia and others at NCEP.
These ten years have been, without any doubt, the best of my life. I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the people of this world-class research organization, and to witness their many achievements. During these ten years we have seen unparalleled improvements in the models' forecast skill, and the development of many successful projects such as the Reanalysis, GCIP, seasonal and interannual dynamical predictions, ensemble forecasting, 3-dimensional and 4-dimensional variational data assimilation, advanced quality control, coastal ocean forecasting, and many other projects where NCEP has been a pioneer in both the fundamental science and the practical applications. It has been a privilege to work with the outstanding civil servants, contractors and visiting scientists that we have at EMC, as well as the outstanding administrative staff.
AMS PROJECT ATMOSPHERE "DATASTREME." In the mid-August issue of Topics we mentioned the involvement of NWSFO Lubbock in this educational outreach effort which is aimed at preparing teachers to teach meteorology in grade schools. WCM Larry Vannozzi provided an update:
We hosted the first AMS Project Atmosphere "Datastreme" meeting/class at the NWSFO last week. After introductions, Plainview High School teacher Joe Willey (AERA) introduced the course objectives and logistics. We also accessed the AMS's Datastreme Web page, which is where the teacher-students will obtain their reading and homework assignments. The Web page contains near real-time weather maps, which the participants must refer to in completing certain homework (twice each week during the semester). The next in-person meeting will be held next month.
The course is free to participants; in fact, they are given some nice goodies, including the USA Today Weather Book, the upcoming AMS Glossary, and a NOAA Weather Radio. The Datastreme Project seems to be a well-organized, exciting way to teach teachers about the weather. Joe is the instructor; Loren (Phillips, NWSFO Lubbock SOO) and I are advisors to Joe and the teacher-students.
The NWSFO Web page will also play a role in this project, and it has already brought Lubbock webmaster Jody James the following kudos from Joe Willey:
I just want to express how much we appreciate what you do with the home page. I will use it quite often in class, so believe it or not, you make a difference...you help make our class better! Thanks for your efforts.
DEALING WITH MARGINAL TORNADIC EVENTS. Doug Crowley (NWSO Amarillo WCM) raises some excellent points in a technical attachment this week. If we continue to document every dust whirl, we risk skewing the national tornado statistics to the point where they will be of limited value to researchers, climatologists, insurance adjusters and so on. The issues Doug presents are not new, but we hope his comments will provoke thought and discussion regarding how marginal tornadic events should be documented.
NWSH UPDATE. For this issue of Southern Topics, we have included some notes from NWSH, Office of Systems Operations for those who are interested in knowing about some long-term projects in Washington.
ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT REPORTING SYSTEM (EMRS). OSO113 met with the Fleet Material Support Office (FMSO) September 13. The meeting was held to continue discussions about the development of the EMRS off-line component. OSO113 demonstrated the current system and discussed software specifications for the new system. FMSO demonstrated a prototype system that was developed based on some early discussions between OSO113 and FMSO. The prototype displayed some basic functionality. The general agreement was that some features needed further development. OSO113 will work closely with FMSO to ensure that the off-line component is developed to specifications. The EMRS off-line development project is scheduled to begin in early October 1996.
CONSOLE REPLACEMENT SYSTEM (CRS) PROJECT. Jerry Stephens visited the CRS contractor site to track progress and discuss the possible program impact.
CommPower has been working on-site with the DECTalk expert. They have corrected the intermittent problems with downloading to the DECtalk boards by making a fix to the UNIX driver and installing a new version of the on-board firmware. Looping through the loading process for more than one thousand cycles of five boards on two systems, with no failures, confirmed the fix.
Jerry Stephens met with the DAPM, ESA, and ET from the Oxnard, CA, office, and Todd Morris from CommPower. They arranged for a functional demonstration at CommPower on September 12. They demonstrated a configuration that has a single FEP with four transmitter channels and one playback channel. The demonstration was successful. The Oxnard staff will provide an independent assessment of the demonstration results. The Oxnard staff seemed to catch on very quickly to the system operations and navigated easily through the CRS screens.
Progress has been made on the main processor (MP) to audio control panel (ACP) interface firmware. The completed command codes include the emergency override functions. The various options associated with this are now under system testing.
Testing of the multiple Front End Processor (FEP) configuration continues with hindrance by intermittent problems between the CommPower inter-process manager software and the Ethernet protocol stack. There is also an unreliable process of loading the FEPs from the MP, which results in system instability. These problems are given high priority since they slow end-to-end system tests and prevent meaningful performance experiments on the projected Pentium-based production configuration.
DOD WSR-88D INTERFACES TO AFOS. OSO15 informed us of two problems in the implementation of five DOD WSR-88D interfaces to AFOS. One problem is related to the circuit connection between the DOD WSR-88D RPG and the NWS AFOS site. The second problem concerns the lack of instructions for the DOD WSR-88D site to implement the connection between their DEMARC and the PUES modem on their RPG. OSO13 sent a cc:Mail message notifying the NWS AFOS sites of these problems and presented a plan of corrective action. Sprint has nearly completed site revisits to install correct data channel cards for a two-wire connection between the DOD WSR and the NWS AFOS site. The Systems Evaluation Branch (SEB) has drafted the instructions for the DOD connection to their RPG and is coordinating with the ESA/Electronic Technicians at NWSFO Miami, FL, and WSO Key West,FL, to verify the instructions. The OSF will be given the verified instructions to distribute a Time Compliant Technical Order to the affected DOD sites. Once these changes are implemented (taking at least six weeks), the NWS AFOS site can implement the RCM and HDP products across the interface.
PC-ROSA. Greg Dalyai (OSO31) informed OSO13 that Black Box Corporation will deliver 100 of their ASCII converters for PC-ROSA this week. CRH will receive one of the devices to verify that its functionality meets the PC-ROSA specifications. Once this is completed, regional headquarters can requisition the devices from NLSC.
ASOS COMMISSIONING. The FAA-sponsored ASOS, at Lawton, OK, was commissioned September 13. Lawton is the one-hundredth FAA-sponsored ASOS to be commissioned. As of September 13, a total of 310 ASOSs (210 NWS and 100 FAA) have been commissioned.
ASOS ICE-FREE WIND SENSORS. Work by the Sensor Test Section (STS) is continuing on the large wind tunnel. Modifications are being made to test sonic-type wind sensors by using the ASOS ice-free wind sensor test. Trial runs of the sonic anemometers are under way. These trial runs will determine if there are any incompatibilities for testing the sonic anemometer technology in the wind tunnel. Some manufacturers have indicated that they experienced significant testing problems with sonic anemometers in small wind tunnels.
TEST EQUIPMENT CALIBRATION. The Lucent Technology (AT&T) calibration van has completed test equipment calibration at all but five NEXRAD sites. Those five sites, in addition to non-NEXRAD spares calibration at the NLSC and repair test equipment at the NRC, will be completed this week.
This ends the NWSH, Office of Systems Operations notes. If you would like these notes to be in future Southern Topics, please notify Vince DiCarlo at (817) 978-2367 Ext. 112.
AWIPS INSTALLATION AT TULSA. Bruce Marshak and Cyndie Abelman witnessed the installation of NWSO Tulsa's AWIPS system. Following is the synopsis. A later issue of Southern Topics will include the experiences of the installation from NWSO Tulsa's view.
The installation went very well. We can attribute this to NWSO Tulsa's staff and Southern Region's Facilities department in that they ensured the office was fully prepared for the system. In addition, the installation team from the Planning Research Corporation (PRC) was excellent and very accommodating, as well as others at the AWIPS Program Office, NWSH, and the Network Control Facility (NCF).
Around 8:15 a.m. Tuesday, September 3, the AWIPS equipment arrived at NWSO Tulsa. For the first part of the day, the PRC staff was dedicated to placing the equipment and tables into the office as specified on the office's Site Survey. The remainder of the day was spent running the cabling for the workstations and securing the connections for the equipment racks.
Wednesday morning, the PRC team finished the cabling and fired up the system around noon. It took a little extra effort for the system to come on line, as PRC had not perfected the "cold-start" procedures for the system. By 3:00 p.m., AWIPS was up and running.
Thursday, the system was operational and a Site Check Out began. The Site Check Out included an inspection of the equipment for damages incurred en route, an inventory of the equipment with documentation, and system testing. The system testing began Friday morning with a PRC representative, a System Acquisition Office (SAO) representative, and two Southern Region Headquarter's witnesses present. Basically, this part of the Site Check Out tested the system by initiating a "cold start" in which the whole system was powered down and then brought up again. Then the functionality and the connections with the AFOS, NEXRAD, the Satellite Broadcast Network (SBN), and the Network Control Facility (NCF) were tested. The testing was completed around 4:00 p.m. Friday afternoon, after which three workstations were moved into the library for user training the following week.
MORE AWIPS IN THE NEWS. An announcement was made a few weeks ago regarding the future of AWIPS software. The announcement stated that AWIPS will be integrated with the WFO Advanced system (developed at the Forecast System Lab (FSL) in Boulder, CO). WFO Advanced is the latest and most advanced forecaster workstation available. There are still a lot of unknowns about how this change will impact AWIPS. Questions as to what will be integrated are currently being addressed by NWSH. In any case, the WFO Advanced will probably take a year or so to be integrated into AWIPS.
AWARD PHOTOGRAPHS. Several major Cooperative Program awards are being presented at the close of the year. As part of the presentations, the observer is recognized in the local media and the National Cooperative Observer (NCO), published by the NWS. Photographs submitted for publication in the NCO, or any news medium, should be a close-up photograph (head and shoulder preferably). Please be aware that color prints having excess background do not reproduce well. Many photographs, recently submitted, included too much scenery and the observer could not be identified. For publication purposes, a close-up photograph of the observer with the presenter is best. The scenic photos are more useful for the historical record of the station.
F&P GAGE TAPE-FEED SPROCKETS. Recently, an attempt to install two new sprockets (tape-feed sprockets) revealed that the left side shaft of the new sprocket would not fit; it was too large. Investigation confirmed that the new sprocket's shaft was 0.002 inches larger on the left side than on the right. The older model sprocket measured the same on both sides.
This discovery was reported to the National Reconditioning Center (NRC). They tested several sprockets and found no problem fitting the new sprockets on the new or old gages. The likely conclusion is that these two new sprockets were the result of a bad production run by the sub-contractors.
Inspect all sprockets before taking them to the field to use as replacements. Should you receive a faulty sprocket, have a machinist shop resize it to specifications or return it to National Logistics Support Center (NLSC). Before the sprocket is resized, have a micrometer measurement done and let Jerry Wolfe (QAS) know the results. Jerry can be reached at (817) 978-2658 Ext 134. The sprocket NSN is 6660-00-936-8009, P/N 422F006V60, CONT> 40WCNW607180, by Armistead Technologies.
SNOW IMPLEMENTATION PLAN. It is important that all DAPM/HMT teams find Cooperative Observers to report snowfall and snow depth in near real-time during the upcoming winter season. This is part of the requirement established by the Snow Implementation Plan, presented at the DAPM conference. Observers are needed to fill gaps resulting from the commissioning of ASOS and the relocation of NWS offices. Please review the Snow Implementation Plan, and contact the RCPS if you have any questions. Additional information on this important program will be forwarded to each CWA as it becomes available. The information will include training materials for snowfall/snow depth measurements, ROSA training materials, and revisions to the Plan.
Southern Region Losses
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WORKING TOGETHER TOWARD THE FUTURE CONFERENCE. With a goal of creating a work environment that respects and values diversity, the EEOC held the second annual "Working Together Toward the Future" conference in Fort Worth, September 10 -12. Sixty-five attendees representing nearly every field office in the Southern Region attended the three-day event, which included four workshops, two guest speakers, and a cookout. The four workshops, led by professional and dynamic facilitators, were:
1. The Art of Verbal Communication
2. Cultural Diversity: A Matter of Respect
3. Managing Conflict and Maintaining Emotional Control
4. Are You a Team Player?
Nationally-known motivational speakers Bill Chaffin and Crystal Williams opened and closed the conference.
When asked if the conference met their expectations, sample comments from attendees included:
"The conference exceeded my expectations which were incorrect about what the conference would be about."
"I now feel more confident that I will do a better job with co-workers and management."
"Conference exceeded my expectations - I had expected basic EEO training and was surprised and pleased with all the enlightening information that was presented."
"It's an opportunity to meet people from other offices and share experiences about the workplace."
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