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Fort Worth, Texas

September 2000



One hundred years ago this week, on September 8, 1900, a major hurricane struck Galveston, leaving in it's wake the greatest loss of life of any natural disaster in the history of the United States. At least 8000 were killed that single day - far more than the combined number of fatalities resulting from all of the other 325 tropical storms and hurricanes which have stuck the country since then. In fact, the Great Galveston Storm accounts for one-third of all the tropical cyclone fatalities which have occurred since the Nation was founded. The Galveston storm quickly became legend, so it's not surprising that considerable attention has been given to a centennial commemoration this year in the Galveston/Houston area. Attached to the Topics this month is a summary of WFO Houston's role in that. Significantly, MIC Bill Read and his staff focused this year's hurricane preparedness activities around the storm and capitalized on heightened awareness resulting from the commemoration. They've done an outstanding job and I will be pleased to join them, along with NOAA administrator Jim Baker, in Galveston later this week for ceremonies which culminate the activities.

Also attached this month is an official report submitted shortly after the storm by Isaac Cline, official in charge of the Galveston office, to Weather Bureau Headquarters in Washington. We recognize Isaac Cline's dedication to public service - before, during and after the storm - with the annual NWS Isaac Cline service awards. The submission process is underway at this time for this year's awards.

MODERNIZED OFFICES. The declaration checklists for all Southern Region forecast offices and river centers have been completed. With this, all SR NWSFOs and NWSOs are now officially designated WFOs - Weather Forecast Offices. Additionally, all RFCs are officially modernized. This marks the completion of a modernization and restructuring program for our field offices that was a decade in the making. Included were the installation and training associated with the WSR-88D radars and AWIPS at all offices, tremendous staffing changes, construction of new facilities, and a host of related activities which affected every NWS employee. Congratulations to all who contributed to this unprecedented achievement in National Weather Service history.

NEW PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER. I want to introduce Ron Trumbla, the new Southern Region NOAA Public Affairs Officer, who joined us last week. Ron comes to us with an extensive background in public relations work. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and was a television and radio news reporter for twenty years. For the last ten years Ron was senior manager for media relations with the Tandy Corporation in Fort Worth. Ron found himself immediately involved in his new job on the first day, coordinating a national press release and media briefings with me on the subject of the record-breaking Texas drought and heat wave. Ron, it's great to have you on board!

DOC MEDALS. Congratulations to all the Southern Region offices and individuals who received Department of Commerce medals this year. A summary follows.

Gold Medal
Organizational ...

RFC Atlanta - For timely and accurate products and services associated with hurricane Floyd (jointly, with WFOs Newport, Wakefield, Raleigh and Wilmington).

Silver Medal
Organizational ...

WFO Tallahassee - For providing life-saving tornado warnings and services to southwest Georgia, February 13-14, 2000.

WFO Corpus Christi - For life-saving services during hurricane Bret on August 22, 1999.

WFO Fort Worth - For exceptional warnings during the North Texas tornado outbreak on March 28, 2000.

Group ...

Lans Rothfusz and Steven Piltz (WFO Tulsa) - For developing the StormReady Program.

Rusty Pfost, Alan Gerard, Mike Ryan, Patsy Peden and Tice Wagner (WFO Jackson) - For exceptional efforts in meeting NOAA diversity goals through contributions to Jackson State University.

Bronze Medal
Organizational ...

WFO Midland - For life-saving warnings and services during the severe weather outbreak of March 22, 2000.

WFO Shreveport - For exceptional warnings during tornado outbreaks in late winter and early spring 1999, and spring 2000.

Group ...

Billy Olsen, William Lawrence and James Paul (RFC Tulsa) - For developing innovative software for enhanced river forecasting and flood warning services.

Individual ...

David Andra (WFO Norman) - For major contributions to the integration of AWIPS into short-range forecast and warning operations at the WFO.

Gene Hafele (WFO Houston) - For providing exceptional warning coordination services to the citizens of southeast Texas.

Scott Plischke (WFO Amarillo) - For development and sharing of applications programs which have led to enhanced weather forecast and warning services.


WEB SERVICE. The Southern Region Web servers took over 5 million hits on August 23, when hurricane Debby reached peak strength. The SR tropical page was the single most visited page and received many favorable comments. The system was maintained reliably throughout the event. Considering that Debby was a minimal storm and had little impact on the Caribbean, this traffic volume was surprisingly high - compared to last year's experience. A sure sign of things to come. To better handle the demand we quickly placed two additional servers on-line. Additional enhancements are underway to make us even better prepared for the remainder of the tropical season.

The above notwithstanding, since the SR firewalls were placed into service we have received reports of user connectivity problems. We respond to all such reports as quickly as possible. Sometimes the problems are associated with how other NWS, NOAA or DOC networks are configured. An example is the trouble we had recently connecting with the NCDC server. That problem was resolved after considerable interaction with the NOAA Network Operations Center (NOC) and NCDC Web personnel. If you experience problems accessing a particular Web site, please contact Bruce Marshak at (817) 978-7777, ext 146, or Susan Beckwith at (817) 978-1300 for assistance.


NEWS FROM THE CENTER WEATHER SERVICE UNITS. The following is a report of recent noteworthy activities in the region's CWSU program:

The RTA replacement effort continues. The processing systems have been received by NWSH and will soon be shipped to the supporting WFOs for configuration. Some progress has been made regarding installation of the T1 line and associated hardware, but concerns still center on the absence of an FAA communications/hardware installation plan.

There is debate over the fate of the existing RTA line once the new T1s are installed. For now, the FAA has no plans for removing these lines, especially at ARTCCs where the line is feeding data through a digital bridge to auxiliary FAA facilities.

The issue of WSR-88D PUP removal at the CWSUs has received a great deal of attention recently. Again, there is no published plan from the FAA related to this process, but unofficially the current thinking is that the PUPs will be removed within six months of WARP1 installation.

CWSU Albuquerque. Harris performed a WARP software upgrade that resulted in significant problems. The problems were so significant that Harris was forced to uninstall the software and go back to the prior build. The CWSU was able to work out the final kinks in the frame relay network (FRN) connection. The system is now fully operational. WFO Albuquerque SOO Deirdre Kann visited the CWSU and conducted some FRN training for the CWSU FRN focal point Alberta Vieira.

CWSU Atlanta. WFO Atlanta SOO Gary Beeley visited the CWSU to conduct frame relay network training.

CWSU Fort Worth. MIC Tom Hicks recently gave a presentation to the Spaceflight Meteorology Group on applications of fuzzy logic to aviation weather.

CWSU Houston. WFO El Paso forecaster John Simensky reported to work at the CWSU on August 1. John replaces Chris Peek. Welcome aboard, John. The CWSU staff entertained representatives of the Mexican Counsel during the Cinco De Mayo celebration. MIC Vince Carreras provided a tour of the CWSU explaining its operations in Spanish.

AVIATION TEAM COMPLETES DRAFT PLAN. The Regional Aviation Team recently completed a second draft of a plan for improving aviation weather services over the next five years. The plan focuses on four initiatives: transforming the corporate culture regarding aviation services, raising customer awareness and satisfaction, improving the forecast system, and developing effective training. The plan is currently under SRH review and should be out to the field offices for their comments soon.

FIRE WEATHER SUPPORT. The Southern Region has been active in supporting the massive wildfire outbreak in the West. All of the regional IMETs and several trainees are now fulfilling or have completed assignments at fire complexes. Unfortunately, there is not much relief in site and our support will likely continue to be required for sometime. With the severe to extreme drought conditions over the South the threat of wildfire outbreak across our region remains a serious threat as well, and we are anticipating the need for regional resources to support our land management partners in control of Southern fires.

We would like to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work and commitment of those Southern Region employees who have provided on-site support to fire officials, both in this region and beyond:

Tom Bird (trainee) WFO El Paso
Scott Cordero (trainee) WFO Brownsville
Mike Edmonston (IMET) WFO Tallahassee
Kent Kuyper (trainee) WFO Lake Charles
Chuck Maxwell (IMET) WFO Albuquerque
Greg Meffert (IMET) WFO Little Rock
Greg Murdoch (IMET) WFO Midland
Jim Noffsinger (IMET) WFO Atlanta

ADIOS! After seven years, this will be my (Gary Woodall) final Southern Topics entry as a representative of Meteorological Services (CWWD). I want to take this time to thank everyone along the way with whom I have worked for their encouragement and support. It has been a great ride! I leave the WCM program in very capable hands, as Larry Vannozzi will be reporting to take over the program in mid-September. I will remain a member of the Southern Region family and the WCM family, so I hope that our paths will cross in the future.

HURRICANE SUMMIT. WFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge MIC Paul Trotter, WCM Frank Revitte, and Southeast RFC HIC Dave Smith attended the Southeast Louisiana Hurricane Task Force Summit in New Orleans. Over 150 participants attended, representing the parish governments, the Corps of Engineers, the Louisiana State Police, the National Guard, the media, and various health and response agencies. Presentations at the summit included a hurricane season outlook, a review of the area evacuation study, and a report on special needs citizens during evacuation.

MEDIA OUTREACH AND SUPPORT. Some highlights from across the region.

WFO Atlanta WCM Barry Gooden did an in-depth interview for a TV show scheduled to air on the Lifetime Network. The show focuses on the Hall County tornado of March 1998 and a family who survived the tornado. Barry provided background information regarding the event and its impacts, and wrapped up the interview by discussing severe weather preparedness tips.

WFO Key West WCM Wayne Presnell reports they have completed a series of NOAA Weather Radio promotional announcements featuring Richard Sterban of the "Oak Ridge Boys." Seven announcements were recorded, two of which are specific to the Key West CWA, but five are generic announcements which can be used region-wide. Southern Region Headquarters recently received a CD-ROM containing the audio files and will make the files available for offices wishing to use them.

The staff of WFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge received positive feedback from a local TV meteorologist regarding their Area Forecast Discussion. The product, issued at 9PM (in time for the evening newscasts), provided advance notice that the later periods of the zone forecast were being updated. This in turn allowed our media partners to update their forecasts, providing customers with the most accurate information possible. Well done.

NEW NWR PROGRAM MANAGER. Tim Troutman arrived from Florida the last week of August. Tim will be training with Doug Crowley who departs for Colorado in late September.

AUGUST EXPANSION AND UPGRADES. The eleventh new transmitter system was brought on-line in Sandersville, Georgia, the last day of August. Five more transmitter systems are scheduled to complete the Georgia expansion project by the end of October. Additionally, three sites were relocated and repairs were made to another. The McAlester, Oklahoma transmitter system was moved to a new tower and building adjacent to the old site. The Lake Charles transmitter system was relocated to a new tower and building, bringing the added advantage of back-up power. The Shreveport transmitter has been moved to a new building and two elements were repaired on the antenna at Mobile.

MESSAGE FROM DOUG CROWLEY. While my time at SRH has been brief, if has been among the most rewarding tours I have experienced. It was a learning, challenging, fast paced and sometimes stressful life, and I loved every minute of it. I want to say THANKS to each of you for your help, patience, ideas and understanding. Keep in touch and if you find yourself in western Colorado, stop by and say Hi.


SR HIC MEETING. A Southern Region HIC meeting is scheduled for September 14-15 at SRH to discuss various subjects relating to RFC product and services and operations. Dave Reed, HIC LMRFC, has taken the lead to formulate the meeting agenda. Topics for discussion include a graphical hydrometeorological discussion product on the Web, the river flood watch product, the RFC categorical flood forecast verification system, RFC backup, and expanding our RIVERWATCH Web site efforts to work toward a one-stop shopping location for hydrologic information.

DATA QC APPLICATIONS. We want to share with you information about various data quality control applications tools available in AWIPS.

First, there is an AWIPS local application called SHEF_CHEK, that checks for SHEF syntax errors in incoming SHEF-encoded products. This application and its associated documentation are available on the AWIPS Local Application Database Web site. The URL for this Web site is

The LDAD Quality Control and Monitoring System (QCMS) currently provides data quality control checking for certain hydrometeorological parameters contained in local mesonetworks, ASOS observations, automated METAR observations from non-ASOS sources, manual METAR observations, buoy reports, and the NOAA Profiler network. Further information about the LDAD QCMS is contained at the following Web sites:

These Web sites contain various sections of information about the LDAD QCMS. Section 8.4 provides you with the PILs to access the hourly, weekly, daily and monthly QCMS text products on AWIPS.

There is also some data QC tools within the WFO Hydrologic Forecast System. In Hydrobase, there is a range check window that you can access via the root window by clicking on Data Ingest, Range Check. The default range checks can be changed for individual stations and SHEF physical element codes via Hydrobase. Data that falls outside these limits can be displayed via HYDROVIEW using the LIVE DATA menu bar and selecting "Out-of-Range Data." Documentation about current WHFS data QC functionality is contained in the WHFS Users Guide. WHFS Version 3.0 in AWIPS Build 5.0 will provide additional flexibility and features associated with data QC. Further information about the data QC features in the Build 5.0 version of WHFS are contained in release notes available on the OH WHFS support group Web site.

Matt Strahan (SOD) and Ben Weiger (CWWD) plan to create a one-stop shop Web site for information about hydrometeorological data quality control (QC) application tools. We will keep you posted on this effort. We also received information from FSL about updates made to the LDAD QCMS in AWIPS Build 5.0. We will also post this information to the new Web site.

On a related matter, the Arkansas Red Basin RFC developed an application that generates a SHEF-encoded text product to assist WFOs in their service area with data QC duties. The product contains a listing, by WFO, of those gauge values that were deemed suspect by their HAS and hydrologic forecasters. The product is viewable via the AWIPS text workstation by entering "OKCRR6TUR." We plan to conduct a pilot project in the LMRFC service area starting in September whereby the LMRFC will disseminate the same product to the WFOs in its service domain. This will help further evaluate this data QC application and its associated product to support data QC duties at the WFO. The feedback received from the WFOs serviced by the LMRFC will help us ascertain whether or not we should refine/change the product content and implement this RFC data QC tool region-wide to support WFO data QC duties.

We are indebted to Billy Olsen and his staff at the ABRFC for (1) developing this application and its associated product; (2) providing LMRFC with the application and technical assistance so LMRFC can generate the product for the WFOs in their service domain; and (3) their willingness to provide technical support, if necessary, to enhance the product content based on customer feedback from the pilot project.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Ben or Matt.

RFC FLOOD FORECAST VERIFICATION UPDATE. On August 24, Ben Weiger (CWWD), Billy Olsen and Bill Lawrence, HIC and DOH respectively from the ABRFC, Bob Corby, DOH at the WGRFC, and Dave Morris met at the WGRFC to discuss progress to date in developing an RFC categorical flood forecast verification program. Significant progress has been made and several actions came out of the meeting. ABRFC plans to complete the first version of the software by November 1, 2000. WGRFC, with assistance from Dave Morris, will update the documentation that describes the verification program. Discussions will be held during our upcoming SR HIC meeting to install an RFC AWIPS archive database structure similar to that currently implemented at the ABRFC at all SR RFCs. A follow-up verification meeting will be scheduled the first week in December to further discuss implementation details.

HSA offices should continue their efforts to define flood category information in their hydrologic database (if not already defined) based on the email correspondence previously sent to you via email. Please notify your supporting SR RFCs and Bob Carle in the Hydrologic Services Branch after completing the flood category definitions for forecast points in your hydrologic database.


Rainfall deficits continued to climb during July across most of the Southern Region HSAs. In the New Orleans HSA, rainfall deficits have reached 20 to 25 inches below normal since January 1. Many cooperative reporting sights recorded less than an inch of rain, during July across the entire Southern Region. Little Rock recorded the second driest July on record and driest since 1930. The Dallas/Fort Worth airport only measured a trace of rain during July. Several locations in Texas are on tight water restrictions as the drought severity increases.

HYDROLOGIC SERVICES BRANCH WEB PAGE UPDATE. The HSB Web page has some new features and links on it. Per several requests from the June Service Hydrologist Conference, John Lipe (SSH at Lubbock) has put together a one-stop Web site to view different WFO and RFC hydrology Web pages from across the country. John has also finished scanning in the Precipitation Frequency Atlas maps for the eastern two-thirds of the country. These maps come from Technical Paper 40 dated 1961. Excellent work John!


AMS SEVERE STORMS CONFERENCE. Many Southern Region forecasters will be participating at mid-month in the 20th AMS Severe Local Storms Conference in Orlando. See the list of papers and posters authored or co-authored by SR employees which we attached to last June's issue of Topics. Mike Foster, now the MIC at WFO Norman, posted his paper (written in conjunction with Ken Crawford at the University of Oklahoma) on the WFO Fort Worth Web site - We mention this because Mike's is a particularly good example of an excellent way to share results of local research studies. Many offices are already doing the same, of course, but if not this should be automatic anytime a paper is to be presented at a conference. Or even if it's done just for local interest for that matter.

Please note also that the same e-papers may be good candidates for submission to the National Weather Association Electronic Journal of Operational Meteorology. WFO Jackson SOO Alan Gerard is co-editor of the new NWA e-journal. "Papers" that are submitted will be peer-reviewed, just as with other formal publication, but the goal of NWA's review process in this case is for quick review and speedy publication on the NWA e-journal Web site. For more information go to Feel free to contact Alan as well.

WSR-88D SAVES LIVES - IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE. We all knew the WSR-88D would save lives, but perhaps not in the way it happened in New Mexico recently. On the afternoon of August 12, senior forecaster Tim Brice answered a ring at the office door at WFO El Paso (located in Santa Teresa, New Mexico). A man who identified himself as "Bill" was at the door and asked for water. Tim provided the water, then got the following information from the man. It seems he exited or was put off a train somewhere west in the desert and was told the route to Las Cruces. With few landmarks in the desert, he quickly became disoriented and the only thing he saw on the horizon was a big ball. He walked for 11 hours to get to the "ball," with temperatures in the middle and upper 90s and having no water. After hearing the story and observing that Bill was shaking and apparently experiencing chills, Tim suspected heat stroke and called 911. When paramedics arrived they confirmed that Bill was severely dehydrated. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Bill said he would not have made it if it had not been for the "ball" which guided him to a place where he thought he could get help.

Congratulations on your quick thinking, Tim. Now we realize the radar can save lives even during a drought.

SMG SUPPORTS MARS MISSION. For 3 weeks last July the NWS Spaceflight Meteorology Group at NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston supported a unique field project related to future Mars landing missions. The SMG staff provided forecasts for Devon Island, Nunavut, which is located in the Canadian high arctic. The Haughton meteorite impact crater, the only crater known to lie in a polar desert environment, is located on Devon Island at about 75 deg 22' N and 89 deg 41' W. The NASA-led Haughton-Mars Project began studying the crater and its surroundings in 1997 as a promising Mars analog site. Data gathered by scientists during these missions will be used to help determine aspects of future NASA missions to Mars. Doris Rotzoll organized this support for SMG.

During the July effort SMG provided a polar satellite image and forecasts of clouds, winds, temperature, dew point, weather, visibility, wind chill and UV index. The package was made available each day by 5pm CDT for the evening uplink package, and the products were used in the evening planning sessions on Devon Island to help determine the following day's science activities. Feedback on accuracy and usefulness of the forecasts was very positive, especially since the weather turned out to be bad the first week when many of the supplies were being flown in and the camp was being set up.

RECENT PAPERS. The latest issue (August) of the AMS journal Weather and Forecasting contains two papers of particular interest to SR forecasters:

"Multiscale Overview of a Violent Tornado Outbreak with Attendant Flash Flooding," by Joseph Rogash (SPC Norman), and Rick Smith (CWWD/SRH). This detailed examination of a March 1, 1997 outbreak provides insight into handling the trickiest of events, severe storms with the potential for tornadoes and flash floods.

"A Quantitative Assessment of the NESDIS Auto-Estimator," by Robert Rozumalski. Bob now works closely with forecasters who are utilizing the workstation-Eta model for mesoscale application at WFOs, but this assessment of the NESDIS automated satellite precipitation estimation technique was carried out while he was a COMET post-doc at NWS Headquarters. The study is based on several Southern Region case studies. He concludes problems with the satellite technique limit usefulness of the results for operational use, but he also points out that NESDIS has continued to develop the auto-estimator since his evaluation.

The August 2000 issue of Monthly Weather Review contains an informative exchange of letters regarding the use of ensemble forecasts for short-range prediction. At issue is whether an ensemble of 80 km Eta model forecasts produces results as good as a single 29 km Eta forecast, and whether there is a useful correlation between the spread of ensemble members and the accuracy of the ensemble mean. We encourage all forecasters to read the following short items:

"Comments on 'Using Ensembles for Short-Range Forecasting,'" by Lance M. Leslie and Milton S. Speer.

"Reply," by David Stensrud and Harold Brooks (NSSL), et al. (Their original paper commented on by Leslie and Speer appeared in the April 1999 MWR.)

NEW TECH MEMO. NOAA Technical Memorandum NWS SR-205, "A Comparison of National Weather Service River Forecast Center Operational Precipitation Processing Methodologies," by John Schmidt, Bill Lawrence and Billy Olsen (Southeast RFC, Atlanta) has been distributed to all offices.

PLANNED CHANGES TO AVN/MRF MODEL. The NCEP has announced changes to the global spectral model planned for implementation in late September. These changes include:

1) A reduction of the model grid structure over the polar regions to improve computational efficiency,

2) An improved 30-second orography field to provide better lower boundary surface conditions,

3) A modification to the ozone analysis procedure, and

4) Improved quality control for radiosonde data, primarily corrections of minor bugs in the current QC procedure.

The current model grid has the same number of longitudinal grid points from equator to the poles. Since the distance between two grid points decreases from equator to the poles, there is a finer grid than needed in the polar region. Increasing grid spacing in the polar regions improves computational efficiency without losing accuracy. The modified grid will reduce the CPU resource needed to run forecast by 10-15%.

The current ozone analysis has lead to runaway ozone in the winter polar region because the instrument sensing ozone needs sunlight. Without the ozone observations, the model gradually accumulates ozone in the polar stratosphere over time. The modified analysis procedure eliminates this error.

The NCEP has run the change package in parallel with the operational version for over a month. Evaluations by HPC forecasters and EMC Global Modeling Branch staff noted no significant changes to the model output, with the primary impact improvement in the winter hemisphere ozone analysis. Forecast examples are available at:

Statistical summaries of the testing (hemispheric 500 mb anomaly correlations) are available at:

PLANNED CHANGES TO ETA MODEL. The NCEP has announced changes to the Eta regional model planned for implementation in late September, pending CAFTI approval. These changes include:

1) An increase to both the horizontal and vertical grid spacing of all runs from 32 km / 45 levels to 22 km / 50 levels,

2) The direct use of satellite (geostationary and polar orbiting) radiances in the three-dimensional variational (3DVAR) analysis,

3) A new consistency check for quality control of observations and a new procedure for the RAOB moisture profile,

4) An increase in the size of the domain, extending the western boundary to that of the previous 48km Early Eta model,

A draft Technical Procedures Bulletin (TPB) detailing the proposed changes is available at:

The added capability of Phase I of the IBM SP computer will be used to increase resolution of the model. This should reduce forecast errors due to improperly resolved features and due to numerical truncation error. The most notable improvements should occur near the surface where terrain variability is greatest, since that variability will be better modeled by the increased resolution. The completion time of the Eta runs will be similar to those on the Cray C-90 before the fire (but much more reliable). There are no changes planned for the resolution of the AWIPS delivery grids. The maximum number of levels possible in a BUFR sounding will increase from 45 to 50.

A new version of the Eta's 3DVAR will be used to directly analyze the radiances from polar-orbiting and the geostationary satellites. These radiances will replace the soundings of retrieved thickness and precipitable water (over water). The NCEP will continue to use the GOES precipitable water retrievals over land where radiances can not be used due to surface emissivity uncertainties. The 3DVAR will also continue to use SSM/I total column precipitable water observations.

The 3DVAR has also been fixed to better handle the low-level moisture observations. An example of a poor analysis and the superior result after the fix is discussed in the draft TPB.

The real-time 22 km parallel runs are being made twice daily and output can be viewed at: For the most current run, the Web site provides four panel displays of the 32 km Eta (upper left), AVN (upper right), 22 km Eta (labeled ETAX in the lower left) and the NGM (lower right). Because the expected impact of resolution change may be greatest near the surface, forecast surface variables are displayed at higher resolution (~20 km via grid #215) for limited domains at

A 14-day period in January-February 2000 (including the January 25th East Coast blizzard) was also rerun with the 22 km test system (see While not a silver bullet, the new version provided improved QPF for the Washington DC area, pushing the precipitation shield 75 km westward.

Overall, the increases in resolution is expected to provide an incremental improvement in skill (or reduction in error depending on your point of view). The use of satellite radiances will make the forecasts more consistent from run to run as the uncertainty in the eastern Pacific will be reduced and a more uniform quality of analysis should be achieved.



AWIPS. All Southern Region AWIPS have been commissioned, and AFOS is being decommissioned across the region. We anticipate AFOS will be decommissioned by the middle of September. Decommissioning at some sites will be dependent upon the timely delivery of the CWSU connectivity to AWIPS. However, Southern Region has contingency plans to use the regional frame relay network to feed data to the CWSUs if connectivity to AWIPS cannot deliver in time.

New Southern Region AWIPS projects include the testing of the LDAD Emergency Management Decision Support System on our regional LDAD. This software is already being used operationally by emergency managers in Tulsa, and Southern Region is working to determine the feasibility of deploying and supporting this software across the region. Southern Region is also working to implement the Watch Warning Advisory software that is already on AWIPS. It is hoped that this software will replace some local applications currently in use and give the sites better coordination tools. Finally, the region is working on methods of sharing LDAD ingested data between sites.

NETSCAPE VERSIONS. When the NOAA IT security officer Becky Vasvary sent out a Netscape message on August 11 concerning vulnerabilities in Netscape Communicator, Versions 4.73 and earlier, the implication was that everyone needed to upgrade to Version 4.74 to avoid the problems with the earlier versions. Southern Region was already one step ahead by having distributed instructions and providing for a centralized download from the Southern Region FTP site on July 20. It is Southern Region's policy to use the latest versions of software whenever possible, to take advantage of the latest features and bug and/or security fixes. On August 18, Southern Region did another upgrade to Version 4.75 to fix yet another vulnerability that received widespread publicity.

UPPER AIR, ASOS AND HURRICANE DEBBY. SRH regional system specialist Charlie Lake traveled to San Juan August 21 - 25 to assist the WFO with Upper Air and ASOS issues. Charlie became involved in a little more than what he planned for - hurricane Debby. Even though the storm did tame a bit and damage was minor, Charlie did have the option to stay on dry land; but he forewent that - service before self.

ASOS. During an inspection tour of WFOs Shreveport and Little Rock we visited the DeQueens, Arkansas ASOS site. The FAA has plans to rework the site due to flooding problems. However, airport officials want to move the site, have purchased an acre of land and are trying to get a grant to pay for relocation of the beacon. FAA and airport officials will work out the details and advise us of the decision. The Sugarland, Texas ASOS site is in the process of being installed. Through coordination with the ESA at Houston, support will be provided to calibrate the equipment after installation.


NEW SOUTHERN REGION FACILITY PROJECTS. Nashville, New Orleans, Corpus Christi and San Angelo are locations where new facilities projects are now in the planning stages by MASC and their architectural and engineering contractor. Nashville will have a new upper air building designed and constructed in FY01; New Orleans will have a landscaped berm erected around the RDA site to protect against future flood events; and Corpus Christi and San Angelo will each have a new storage building constructed.

LESSONS LEARNED FROM FUEL SPILL. During a recent refueling operation by a commercial fuels vendor, approximately 240 gallons of diesel was spilled on the floor of the Brownsville RDA generator shelter when the truck driver failed to notice the interior tank overflowing. The shelter is designed as a secondary containment vessel for up to 500 gallons of fuel, and only a small amount leaked onto the gravel surrounding the shelter. The events leading up to the spill and immediately following were reviewed for lessons learned to be shared with other NWS employees in the Southern Region, as well as, nationally.

In the future, the fuel tanks will be filled from inside the shelter where the pump operator can view the tank along with an NWS employee. Following the spill, emergency notification was provided to the National Response Center (800-424-8802), and to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (956-367-0795) within 24 hours, as required by law for a spill of over 25 gallons. A question remains as to whether this report is required if the spill remains within the designed secondary containment.

Examination of the site's EPA-required Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan showed no mention of a spill at the RDA, which is fairly uniform for the plans done by Fluor-Daniel Corporation. This is not a requirement for storage of less than 660 gallons of fuel, but a spill is equally serious regardless of where it is located in the facility.

Most of the emergency notification phone numbers in the SPCC were incorrect and have since been updated with current numbers. The Environmental and Safety focal points at all Southern Region sites were tasked with confirming that the emergency notification phone numbers are correct in their respective SPCC plans.

The three spill response contractors contacted said they must have a signed contract in hand before dispatching their cleanup crews, and one company stated that the contract had to be with the company responsible for the spill instead of the property owner. If we, as the property owner, sign a contract for cleanup we may become liable for unforseen costs should the contaminant reach a waterway.

TED KOPPEL TO COVER RESUMPTION OF ASOS COMMISSIONINGS? With the termination of the FAA commissioning moratorium at Service Level D ASOS sites, Southern Region is again working with the FAA to commission these sites. The upcoming commissionings include: Deming and Tucumcari, New Mexico; Harrison, Arkansas; and Dalhart, Texas.

On August 23, 2000, the first of these sites in Southern Region was commissioned in Lufkin, Texas at 1800UTC. This was a few hours after Ted Koppel of ABC News flew into the airport. In reality, Mr. Koppel was in Texas doing a story on the Texas prison system.

ST. CROIX ASOS COMMISSIONED. The FAA sponsored ASOS site at Christiansted, United States Virgin Islands (USVI) was commissioned on August 8. This ASOS is now capable of providing WFO San Juan with 24-hour observations from the airport. Previously, observations were only available when the part-time tower was staffed. The additional data was invaluable during Hurricane Debby.

WARP TO BEGIN OPERATIONAL USE. The FAA Weather and Radar Processor (WARP) will begin to be used operationally by personnel from Ft. Worth CWSU on August 31. For the first time, narrowband communications lines will connect the NWS-WSR-88D and the WARP at the CWSU, who will use this data operationally.

STATUS OF OPEN RPG DEVELOPMENT. The Open RPG (ORPG) software coding and hardware design are complete. The narrowband communications solution is pending, hardware and software testing are proceeding on schedule. The Simpact replacement issue still has not been resolved. Simpact's financial demise has left the ORPG without a viable wideband/narrowband interface. As such, the system will not be ready to enter integration testing as scheduled. The programmatic goal continues to suggest that 50 systems be deployed in FY01 with deployment to be completed by FY02.

STATUS OF OPEN RDA DEPLOYMENT. The overall goal of the Open RDA (ORDA) program is to improve the quality of the WSR-88D base data, specifically mitigate the effects of ground clutter, anomalous propagation, range folding, and velocity aliasing. Some of the various system components that would be replaced in the ORDA system include the user interface, the two signal processors, the host computer, and the communications server. The number of lowest replaceable units will not exceed nine, compared to the legacy system which has 41.

The current schedule shows the deployment of the ORDA taking about one year, and being completed by the fourth quarter of 2004. The 60% Design Review is currently underway and the current timetable calls for the first O-RPGs to be installed at field offices in one to two years.

POWER RECORDERS. Power recorders for monitoring voltage, current, and power consumption have been connected to the El Paso and Jacksonville WFO electrical distribution systems to determine probable causes of increased billing, electrical brownouts and outages. Excessive electrical kilowatt usage may be a result of a defective utility meter.

ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION SYSTEMS. Southern Region facility engineering technicians are currently in the process of installing new uninterruptible power supply (UPS) systems in the Birmingham and Tulsa WFOs. Future installations in the next four months will include Lubbock, San Juan, Ft. Worth, and Austin/San Antonio. External battery test panels are being installed on each UPS to allow for the safe testing and replacement of defective batteries.

UPPER AIR PROGRAM. The NWS has returned to formal testing of upper air observers as part of the certification process. Now, before certification is granted, a written test must be successfully completed, along with a demonstration of ability. The new written test became available in early August.

COOPERATIVE OBSERVER PROGRAM. A demonstration of the new CSSA was presented to regional focal points on August 24 at Salt Lake City. This demonstration represented one of the last hurdles before the structure and performance of the software is finalized. The modernized system can then be prepared for BETA testing. This project remains on schedule for a completion during January, 2001. The migration to the new Oracle database is scheduled for November, 2000.

An Internet version of the PC-ROSA data collection and dissemination system is under development and nearing completion. The page should be available for testing in September and available for general use soon after the testing is completed. This modernization effort will allow the coop observer, who has access to the Internet, a method to submit near real-time data to the NWS offices.

SURFACE OBSERVATION PROGRAM. Eight data acquisition program mangers (DAPMs) attended COTR training in preparation for the contracting of the augmentation and backup duties at NWS co-located ASOS sites. While the contracting of these duties has since been canceled, these DAPMs now have a much better understanding of the contracting process and are prepared to provide future support of contract monitoring.


WFO FORT WORTH/DALLAS. Forecaster Roland Nunez gave a presentation to the Natural Gas and Electric Power Society of North Texas. Approximately 45 representatives from across north Texas were in attendance. Roland's presentation focused on the long-range climatological forecasts, including the remainder of the hurricane season and the winter outlook, and potential impacts on energy use during the coming months.

WFO CORPUS CHRISTI. Lead forecaster Brian LaMarre has been an "expert consultant" for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times weather column on several occasions when they needed guidance. Gloria Gericke, library news assistant at the Caller-Times receives weather-related questions from many minority children, as well as others, and has coordinated with Brian on researching and answering the questions. Following is just one of the many questions that Brian has answered.

How does rain start when you are moving towards it? (Student age 9)

In reality, the rain is actually already falling and hitting the ground before you move toward it. National Weather Service Doppler radar can determine where the rain is falling, where it is moving toward, how much rain is falling on the ground, and based on the knowledge of the meteorologist, we can tell you if it will affect your area. The rain cloud could be stationary or moving very slowly, and you could move towards it and the rain would then be falling on you. If the rain is moving away from you, you would have to be moving towards it faster than it is moving away from you, or else you will never get wet! However, if you are standing still and a rain cloud is moving towards you, don't worry, you will get wet very soon.

WFO LITTLE ROCK recently hosted a young "shadow forecaster." Senior forecaster Newton Skiles' 13-year old son, Kent, worked a midnight shift with his father and other members of the WFO shift complement. Kent, who is very computer literate, adapted quickly to the AWIPS workstations and office PCs. He participated in the issuance of several WFO products including public forecasts, fire weather forecasts, and quantitative precipitation forecasts. Kent also assisted meteorologist intern Marty Mayeaux with the 1200UTC upper air flight. He discussed aviation concerns with journeyman forecaster Lance Pyle. Consistent with the NWS family friendly policy, MIC Renee Fair readily encourages the WFO staff family members to visit the WFO, so that they may better understand the staff's duties and responsibilities.

WFO MORRISTOWN. WCM Howard Waldron recently participated in an aviation course presented by East Tennessee State University. He gave a three-hour session on aviation weather and weather safety to a group of students consisting of 26 teachers from east and middle Tennessee. One of the directors for the course had attended a spotter training session given by Howard and thought the information advantageous to the students. The subject matter was well received as a valuable part of the class.

WFO SAN ANGELO. WCM Buddy McIntyre taught a meteorology course for the pre-engineering class at Angelo State University. Buddy was joined by SOO Greg Jackson and forecasters Amy and Patrick McCullough for a meteorology seminar for teachers of the San Angelo Independent School District. Over 60 teachers attended the seminar, which was received quite favorably.

MIC Shirley Matejka and Buddy McIntyre attended a week long FEMA course taught by the Texas Department of Emergency Management on "Principles of Emergency Management." They strongly recommend the course for all WCMs, and MICs may be interested also.

WFO SHREVEPORT. Met intern Jason Hansford participated in the Monroe Disaster Relief Fair sponsored by the Girl Scouts of Monroe/West Monroe, Louisiana. Over 100 people attended the fair. Jason's booth consisted of emergency preparedness procedures and materials, with special emphasis on NOAA Weather Radio.

WFO TALLAHASSEE. During August, WFO Tallahassee's outreach program remained active, with an emphasis on hurricanes. Senior forecaster and EEO focal point Ron Block discussed hurricane development and preparedness for the elderly at the Tallahassee Senior Citizens' Center "Summer Country Fair." He lectured on hurricane preparedness to home owners at the NWS-Red Cross Disaster Mitigation Workshop and to mainly kids at the Caribbean Carnival Celebration where the multi-cultural diversity of Florida was emphasized. Ron lectured on hurricane genesis and preparedness at Buck Lake and Raa Middle Schools in Tallahassee. At all the above events, the majority of attendees were women and minorities.

MIC Paul Duval and WCM Bob Goree discussed the value of NWS weather radio with Florida congressman Alan Boyd, congresswoman Karen Thurman and local residents at Fanning Springs, Florida, and reviewed severe weather with emergency managers and area residents in Perry, Florida. Paul lectured on hazardous weather preparedness at the Rotary Club in Thomasville, Georgia, on hurricane preparedness to the Tallahassee Crusader senior citizens group, on aviation weather to Northwest Airlines pilots and on the NWS mission with the Florida State University newspaper. Bob discussed the NWS mission and technology, as well as careers in meteorology, with high school students in the predominantly African-American summer science program at Florida A&M.

BLACKS IN GOVERNMENT (BIG) CONFERENCE. Marion Kuykendall, DAPM, attended and became a member of the Blacks in Government (BIG) 22nd Annual National Training Conference in Washington, DC, from Aug 21-25, 2000.

BIG provides training at the national level to promote greater career advancement for African Americans with a number of training workshops that have significant interests to federal managers and employers. The conference provided agencies an opportunity to participate in discussions on a wide range of career development issues of interest to the federal sector.

Topics such as information technology, career development, personal performance productivity, and management and leadership skills were covered.

A few dignitaries that were in attendance were Representative Jessie L. Jackson, Jr., retired General Colin L. Powell, Congressman John Lewis from Georgia, Surgeon General David Satcher, Martin Luther King III, and Al Sharpton.

AUGUST 1 - 31, 2000

Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
Tice Wagner WFO JAN Retirement MIC, GS-15
Edward McNeely WFO JAN Reassignment to CR El Tech, GS-11
Richard Reeves WFO BMX Retirement HMT, GS-11

Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Steven Jenkins WFO ABQ Reassignment from PR El Tech, GS-11
James Belles WFO MEG Promotion from CR WCM, GS-14
Priscilla Bridenstine WFO JAN New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Joe Rogash WFO EPZ Reassignment from NCEP Lead Forecaster, GS-13

Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Clay Anderson WFO ABQ Reassignment from EWX Forecaster, GS-9
Timothy Troutman SRH Reassignment from MLB NWR/Dissem. Met, GS-13

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