Fort Worth, Texas

September 1, 1997



SMG SUPPORTS JOHNSON SPACE CENTER OPEN HOUSE. SMG supported the second annual Johnson Space Center Open House on Saturday, August 23, 1997. An estimated 80,000 visitors came to JSC to tour the Mission Control Center, astronaut training facilities, view the Mars and moon rocks, and see other behind-the-scenes activities. The SMG operations area received an estimated 8,000 visitors between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. This was the first Open House where the general public was invited to tour the SMG operations room. Previous Open House events required visitors to visit an SMG "booth" in the MCC lobby.

Visitors were given brief demonstrations of MIDDS workstations and WSR-88D capabilities, and were given NWS safety and promotional material. SMG staff contributing to this effort were Steve Sokol, Karl Silverman, Doris Rotzoll, Mark Keehn, Richard Lafosse, Monica Sowell, and Frank Brody. In addition, two spouses, Janice Brody and

Deb Silverman volunteered their time to help with the Open House.

COASTAL FLOOD SEMINAR. On August 29, NWSO Tampa Bay, along with the University of South Florida, hosted a Coastal Flood Seminar at the Knight Ocean Research Center, on the campus of USF St. Petersburg, FL. All of the Florida offices had someone in attendance at the meeting. Mike O'Brien from NWSFO Miami gave an overview of the coastal flood program as it is run at the forecast office, along with several examples of past events that affected Florida. Michelle Baker, Director of Emergency Management for Pasco County Florida, discussed the effect coastal flooding has on her jurisdiction and on how they use

information from the NWS in dissection making. Several of the faculty from USF discussed the physics behind coastal flooding and modeling efforts that are underway at the University for the

west coast of Florida. Dr. Mark Luther discussed USF's oceanographic and meteorological observation network along the west coast of Florida, along with plans for its expansion. The data from this network are made available to the NWS. The workshop continued until about 1:00 p.m., but the discussion continued over lunch at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club.

This was a very successful seminar, and our congratulations to Dan Sobien and Charlie Paxton on putting it together.

CRS. Coming to an office near you--the Console Replacement System (CRS). Below is the delivery schedule for CRS units within the Southern Region. The exact dates have not been worked out yet so only the month and year are given.

Office Date Office Date

CRP 1/98 LBB 8/98

EWX 2/98 MRX 8/98

FFC 2/98 LZK 8/98

SHV 2/98 MEG 8/98

JAN 2/98 OHX 8/98

ABQ 2/98 HGX 8/98

BRO 2/98 MLB 8/98

TSA 3/98 MFL 8/98

OUN 3/98 SJT 9/98

LIX 5/98 MOB 9/98

MAF 6/98 TBW 9/98

ELP 7/98 JAX 10/98

LCH 7/98 TAE 10/98

FWD 7/98 SJU 10/98

AMA 8/98

NWSO TALLAHASSEE WEB PAGE HELPS USCG IN BUFFALO. Below is some e-mail NWSO TLH received about their homepage.

[ Regarding NWS TLH marine web page at http://www.nws.fsu.edu/buoy/ ]

Just wanted to let you know that we here at U. S. Coast Guard Group Buffalo find your web page very useful. We manage the search and rescue planning (among other missions, such as law enforcement) on the eastern Great Lakes. Interactive marine observations are very useful for determining the drift rates of search targets, for example.

Thanks for this very useful service.

LT Jerry Popiel, Operations Officer"

You never know who is going to put your homepage to use.

NATIONAL NEWS RELEASE ON NWR/SAME. For the past 10 years or so, we've planned for NWR/SAME (Specific Area Message Encoder), installed equipment for SAME, and trained for SAME. January 1, 1997, NWR/SAME became an integral part of EAS. The final, long-needed ingredient was for SAME receivers to become available for emergency managers, law enforcement officials, utilities, schools, and the general public. The big day finally arrived--August 19, 1997. As we know, SAME represents a vast improvement in service of broadcasting severe weather warnings by allowing users with NWR/SAME receivers to obtain event specific and site specific warnings, and screen out weather alarms that do not apply to them.

According to the Department of Commerce new release, the first brand of the new SAME-capable receiver is sold by Radio Shack, with other brands of receivers with the SAME feature expected to be sold by electronics manufacturers later this year. The NWS praised the efforts of the consumer electronics industry for bringing these new NOAA Weather Radio receivers to the marketplace.

Information in the form of NWR/SAME talking points and questions and answers was distributed to all Southern Region offices to publicize and promote the improvement in NWS service and dissemination of severe weather warnings. It is hoped many and varied users will take advantage of this technology to protect their lives and property.

NWR EXPANSION IN MISSISSIPPI. The Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has bought, installed, and are maintaining NWR systems serving the Kosciusko and Parchman, MS, areas. Both transmitters are programmed by NWSFO Jackson. The Kosciusko NWR (162.425 MHZ; WWG-38; 300 watts) will share programming with the Ackerman, MS, NWR. The Parchman NWR (162.500 MHZ; WWG-37; 100 watts) will share programming with the Inverness, MS, NWR. A warm welcome is extended to the 132nd and 133rd NWRs in the Southern Region.


TECHNICAL ATTACHMENT. Attached to this edition of Topics is a trip report written by service hydrologist Al Hong of the NWSFO Tulsa. Al surveyed flood damage from the July 17-18 heavy rain event in Osage County, Oklahoma.

HIC/HSD CONFERENCE. The week of August 18-22, an HSD Chiefs/HIC meeting was held at NWSH. Many topics of concern were discussed, with the AWIPS development and deployment, and the various aspects of that effort, being a major topic.

WET WEST TEXAS. Some unusually heavy rain amounts were tallied in the Midland HSA during July. Marfa checked in with 6.28 inches with Panther registering 5.16 inches and Lajitas measuring 4.61 inches. While these rains represent much above normal totals for the area, NWSO Midland hydro focal point T. J. Turnage says they occurred mostly in noncontributing river basins. Therefore, no mainstem river flooding resulted.

DRYING OUT IN SOUTH TEXAS. In Brownsville, however, only a trace of rain was recorded in July. According to NWSO Brownsville hydro focal point Freddy Vega, this tied a record which had been previously set four times.

DANNY DATA. Hurricane Danny hit Mobile Bay, Alabama, more than a month ago, but some data have only recently become available. According to NWSO Mobile hydro focal point Keith Williams, the heaviest rainfall amounts did not occur over the main river basins. This probably averted widespread and possibly historic flooding. However, some of the flooding that did occur was still significant. Flooding on the Fish River at highway 104 was reported to be a 50 year event according to the USGS, while the Fowl River in southern Mobile County reached a height one and a half times greater than the 100-year flood.

Some of the more impressive rainfall reports included Dauphin Island Sea Lab, which measured 23.99 inches in 24 hours with a storm total of 36.71 inches. Normal July rainfall at the facility is around six inches. Fairhope, in Baldwin County, received a storm total of 24 inches with Robertsdale (Baldwin County) registering 13.88 inches.


Rainfall Data Collection in South Florida. The Miami NWSFO has been working with the SERFC to obtain timed periodic reports (TPRs) from all Hydrometeorological Automated Data System (HADS) stations in South Florida. According to hydro focal point Jere Gallup, the WFO's intent is to eventually merge the reports, along with additional shared rainfall data received from the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and the USGS. Many of the HADS stations exist in data sparse areas of South Florida. Data from these sites can be relatively more valuable to the WFO than data from some of the first order rainfall reporting stations. The WFO eventually plans to process a comprehensive rainfall collection network via computer so they can, as Jere says, "properly develop and integrate hydrologic capabilities with the WSR-88D."

DCP Improvement Work. NWSFO Albuquerque senior service hydrologist Ed Polasko coordinated with the USGS in Las Cruces to change a DCP near Gila, New Mexico (southwest part of the state and actually in the El Paso HSA). A USGS technician replaced the old Handar 540 DCP with a newer Sutron 8200. This allows for routine data access every four hours (in 15-minute increments) instead of the old Handar unit which provided data every six hours (in hourly increments).


ALERT News. The ALERT program continues to forge ahead. Efforts to get the Hydromet and PC-ROSA programs running on the same computer continue. It is hoped that this will be set up at four Southern Region sites soon. Additionally, upgrades to existing Hydromet systems or the purchase of new systems are slated for four more WFOs. Approval for the purchase of decoding software for two systems has also been received. And finally, dedicated phone circuits are being arranged that will transmit real time ALERT data directly to the relevant WFOs.


SOUTHERN REGION SPECIAL ISSUE. Congratulations to the following forecasters; authors or co-authors of papers which are included in the September 1997 special Southern Region issue of the AMS journal Weather and Forecasting. Titles of individual papers were included as a technical attachment in the June 15, 1997, issue of Topics.

NWSFO Fort Worth Mike Foster

NWSFO Jackson Corey Mead

Rusty Pfost

Rusty Pfost and Alan Gerard

NWSFO New Orleans Alan Johnson

NWSO Jacksonville Pat Welsh and Al Sandrik

NWSO Melbourne Bart Hagemeyer

Steve Hodanish and Dave Sharp

Peggy Glitto, Lt. Barry Choy (NOAA Corps)

Scott Spratt and Dave Sharp

NWSO Mobile Jeff Medlin

NWSO Tampa Bay Waylon Collins and Charlie Paxton

Frank Alsheimer and Charlie Paxton

NWSFO Tulsa Steve Amburn and Peter Wolf

SMG/Houston Frank Brody, Dan Bellue and Richard LaFossee

The same issue also contains several collaborative papers from faculty and students at Texas A&M (CIAMS), Florida State (CITM), and Jackson State University. We appreciate the support provided by the Office of Meteorology at NWS Headquarters, which made it possible to include so many papers.

SOO NEWS. NWSO Shreveport interns Mike Berry and Donovan Landreneau conducted a seminar recently on two subjects of particular interest. The first topic was a brief discussion of single cell microbursts. A radar depiction of the Hope, Arkansas, macroburst on July 15, 1997, showed storm velocity (SRM) convergence of 110 kt in the layer from 5,000 to 10,000 ft AGL in the storm core. Estimated 70 mph surface winds with this storm damaged trees and power lines in and around Hope.

Next, a study of the central Texas tornadoes of May 27, 1997, including the F5 Jarrell tornado, was covered. The presentation included news videotape of the tornadoes, satellite loops, meteorological analyses and tornado theory discussion using transparencies, and an examination of radar data using both the PUP (Archive IV) and transparencies. Some of the data were provided by NWSFO Austin/San Antonio. The seminar was attended by 11 NWSO staff members and four visitors from Barksdale AFB.

TROPICAL MODELING AT FSU. Tallahassee MIC, Paul Duval reported that on August 8, six members of the NWSO staff attended a briefing at the FSU Department of Meteorology, given specifically for the NWS, and hosted by Dr. T. N. Krishnamurti and a team of his graduate students and assistants. Also attending the meeting was Dr. Naomi Surgi from the NCEP/TPC. The briefing covered the FSU Real-Time Hurricane Forecast Initiative, and explored possible areas of collaboration between the NWSO and the FSU team. The Real-time Hurricane Forecast Initiative is a three-year, privately-funded project in which Dr. Krishnamurti's Global Spectral Model will be utilized in real-time to produce forecasts for tropical storms that develop in the North Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, and thus potentially threaten coastal areas of the U.S. Funding for this effort comes from a large insurance concern.

The briefing included discussions of the spectral model, the SP2 computer purchased specifically for the project, data collection, and model output and performance. This project is rather extraordinary for a primarily research-oriented university group. Within only a few weeks of acquiring funding and the computer, they established international and multi-agency national channels for the acquisition of data required for their forecast model. [We're pleased to say that SSD was helpful in accessing outgoing long-wave radiation from NESDIS to support this effort.] They have run their suite of programs (which include ensemble forecasts) for the five tropical systems which have developed so far this season, and results look very promising. Mutually beneficial collaboration should be possible in a number of areas, including the desire of the FSU group to acquire high-resolution WSR-88D composite data for the model, and NWS desire to gain access to the model output of parameters such as forecast rainfall from land falling storms.

SHARING RESEARCH RESULTS. Two of the papers that are included in the September 1997 Southern Region issue of Weather and Forecasting have already found a receptive audience. Jack Parrish, Flight Director for NOAA's P-3 aircraft, recently advised NWSO Melbourne authors Dave Sharp and Scott Spratt that their paper dealing with WSR-88D assessment of tropical cyclone outer rainbands has been incorporated into the pilots' flight and meteorological guidance material, for "working around and through rainbands over land." In a message to the NWSO, Jack added, "We certainly appreciate the applied research you're doing. You might help us keep our wings attached...we like that."

ASSISTING IN HURRICANE RESEARCH. In the August 1 issue of Topics, we highlighted the 40-inch rains associated with hurricane Danny's July landfall in the Mobile area, including an example of how well the WSR-88D caught the event. NWSO Mobile SOO Jeff Medlin shared the following message he received from Peter Dodge (Hurricane Research Division, NOAA/AOML). Our coastal offices frequently interact with HRD, and Peter's note serves to summarize how effective that can be for all concerned.

I just received two WSR-88D Level II tapes from NCDC that contain data from your radar collected during Hurricane Danny. I was pleased that you all were able to run in VCP 11 the whole time. That gives us two more volume scans per hour, and improved vertical resolution. This should be a great data set to work with.

On July 18 we flew the Windfields at Landfall experiment, collecting several hours of airborne Doppler radar data that can be combined with data from the Mobile and New Orleans radars. During the flight 12 GPS dropwinsondes were dropped near marine surface observing stations, to help us better describe the boundary layer. Look for Danny on the 1997 Storms page. A summary of the mission can be found on our home page at: http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/hrd/Storm_pages/frame.html.

The next day, when Danny seemed to sit in Mobile bay all day long, NOAA collected a few hours of Rapid Scan visible satellite imagery. The NEXRAD and satellite data should help describe the evolution of convective elements that rolled around the eyewall. Thanks again for the help. I'll let you know once we have some preliminary analyses from the combined airborne and WSR-88D radar data.

Jeff responded: "I think one of the most significant WSR-88D modification items is to note that the Z/R relationship was changed to a Tropical Z/R. This allowed for improved rainfall estimates, and we could not have picked a better time with the slow-moving nature of Danny. Hopefully, this and some other minor steps we took will allow for one of the highest quality ARC-II data sets that you have ever received."

Congratulations on the great job the Mobile staff did with Danny, including this fine example research collaboration.

SUMMERTIME SNOW? Snow aloft may not count, but then again, a report of snow of any sort in Georgia in the summertime may bear repeating, at least. NWSFO MIC Carlos Garza passed on the following from Lloyd Clark, a specialist with the Bureau of the Census in Atlanta:

Our office is on the 32nd floor with floor to ceiling windows that afford a great view of weather over the downtown and metro Atlanta area. The snow was witnessed by about 20 people in our office.

The incident lasted no more than 90 seconds. The frozen precipitation appeared mixed with heavy rain, first in the form of very small hail and then quarter to half-dollar sized flat agglomerations of snow crystals that were light enough to swirl about in the strong gusts of wind and briefly stick to the windows. Employees reporting to work at the time [indicated] there was no snow at street level.

Must have something to do with El Niño.

MIAMI WEB HIGHLIGHTS. Last weekend marked the 5th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew's devastating impact on South Florida. To call attention to that, NOAA issued a press release and the Miami Herald published a series of follow-up reports. Both are available through links on the Southern Region web site (http://www.srh.noaa.gov). More recently, last May 12 an F1 tornado struck downtown Miami. The appearance of the tornado in the heart of the city was so dramatic it made headline news. A detailed report of that rare event by Miami forecaster Dan Brown, complete with photos and analyses, is highlighted on the NWSFO Miami homepage, also accessible by means of the Southern Region web site.

UCP REPLACEMENT. Following are comments provided by Bobby Boyd, forecaster at NWSO Nashville, who recently represented the Southern Region in an upgrade review of the Human Computer Interface for the WSR-88D that is being developed by NSSL:

The Human Computer Interface will serve as the replacement for the WSR-88D Unit Control Position (UCP). I provided input to the OSF Open Systems Team and was impressed with how much nicer the interface is with its graphical displays and menus, along with its functionality. Forecasters will find it more efficient and effective while interacting in an operational environment. Screen examples can be found on the OSF Website at:


AUDIOGRAPHICS METBIT AT NWSFO JACKSON. NWSFO Jackson regularly includes a brief "Metbit" at the conclusion of their daily weather briefings. On Wednesday, August 27, Bernard Meisner (SSD) presented a half-hour "Metbit" about the HURRAN and CLIPER hurricane guidance models. What was unique about this presentation was that Bernard was in Fort Worth at the time! Using the recently delivered Audiographics hardware and software, Bernard was able to deliver the interactive presentation to the NWSFO Jackson staff. Dan Smith, Susan Beckwith and Renee Mathis (in other words, all of SSD!) observed the teletraining session from the SRH Training Room. Rusty Pfost (SOO) reported that the training "really was great and very effective, too!"



RADAR ARCHIVE UPDATE. SRH sends out a monthly report on the quality of the radar archive information from NCDC. Recently we were asked by a field office just what these numbers mean and how can they be improved. The big question came with the "slipped disk" section of the report.

We checked with NCDC and the OSF, and were told that most of these errors went away with Build 9. Now the only error that should affect the archive disk is Error 45. Error 45 is an indication that the write head is out of focus. This could be because of a bad disk or a bad write head. If you receive an error 45, it is important that the disk be changed immediately. The second write error will cause an error 42 which makes the disk unreadable.

The OSF said that in most cases, if you get an Error 45 on two disks in a row, it is best to change out the whole drive unit. If you have any questions about this, call Vince DiCarlo at

(817) 978-2367 x 112.

OPEN SYSTEMS UPDATE. Last week we received an update on the project to replace the Concurrent computers in the RPG with an open (UNIX) system. Currently, most of the development work is being done through NSSL. OSO is working on all of the training and installation concerns with the Regions. We are coordinating a plan in which the local Electronics staff will replace the computer with the help of a team of Air Force maintenance personnel who will visit each site. This project has a long way to go. Installation will begin in the 1999 time frame.

Once that project is complete there are plans to upgrade the Concurrent hardware in the RDA and in the PUP.

AIR FORCE REORGANIZATION. The "reengineering" of the Air Weather Service continues to be a major concern to many offices in the Southern Region. Southern Region has most of the Air Force radars. Under the new alignment, all Air Force warnings and forecasts will come out of four regional centers. In the Southern Region, most of our offices will deal with Shaw and Barksdale Air Force bases. All Air Force WSR-88D UCPs will be moved to one of these centers. There are mixed feelings as to whether or not this will be an improvement for our offices that depend on these radars. The Air Force also plans to revamp the URCs for these radars. This may force some extra travel for our managers. It will be interesting to see how these changes affect our operations.


ASOS POWER CABLE PROBLEMS. Southern Region personnel have discovered several problems with ASOS power cables that every office should note. We observed in El Paso that the ASOS installation contractor did not waterproof any splices on the power cables feeding the sensor group. The contractor also used hardware too small for the number and size of conductors. When the contractor tried to install the undersized hardware, he damaged the insulation protecting the conductors. When the ground became saturated with water from recent rains, the damaged conductors shorted causing a complete loss of power to the sensor group. This occurred on August 7, 1997. It is also a perfect example why the National Electric Code has hardware connection standards based on the size and number of conductors used.

When the ESA and SFT began to investigate the problem, they discovered the "as-built" drawings were completely inaccurate. The splice boxes shown on the drawings and the cable route varied up to 400 feet from the actual installation. The only way the SFT and ESA could find one of the three splice boxes was to use a cable locator and a probe rod to stick in the ground. Most of this work took place within the runway safety zone. The airport had to shut down the runway several times to allow NWS personnel access to find and repair the cable splices. Once all the splice boxes were found and the cable splices repaired, reliable power was restored to the site. This took place on August 21, 1997 (Temporary power was restored August 14, 1997).

SRH documented the entire effort to repair the power cables in ELP. We then formally asked NWSH to look into the poor construction and inaccurate drawings received at all sites. We have experienced similar power cable problems at other sites throughout the Region. We feel this problem is common across the country and will cause an increase in work for both ETs and Facilities personnel. It will also increase ASOS maintenance costs to repair cables that should seldom need attention.

Facilities spent a total of eighty-two SFT hours to repair the cable, and the ET staff spent seventy-one. A hired contractor spent approximately forty hours, and the Airport personnel, ten hours. Heiko Crowe traveled to the site and spent ten hours on-site. This does not include the number of hours various SRH personnel spent on the problem. As you can see, we did not come close to meeting the 24-hour restoral time at this site.

In summary, each ASOS site may experience a total power failure for an extended period due to poor construction by the original installation contractor. This may affect the long term reliability of the system, and definitely increase the amount of "human" intervention required to provide continuous surface observations.

ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE AND SAFETY INITIATIVES. In early August Terry Brisbin attended a three-day environmental course in Silver Spring. The course focused on the various environmental legislative actions that drive EPA and OSHA regulations and how this will affect future NWS operations. This same course will be repeated for all SR MIC/HICs and their designated environmental/safety focal points. The course will be presented this fall at SRH by representatives of Waste Resources, Inc. of Niagra Falls, New York.

Topics to be covered in this course will include an overview of environmental legislation, DOC policies and protocols, OSHA standards, hazardous properties of materials, health and environmental effects, personal safety, OSHA workplace standards, hazardous waste identification, waste generator standards, OSHA hazardous materials standards, chemical compatibility, DOT waste identification, waste container labeling, waste transportation, emergency planning, and spill response. The large volume of information and reference material will only serve as an introduction to the subject of environmental compliance. An additional course with topics directly related to day-to-day field operations will follow at a later date.

B-66 REVIEW. The NWSH has announced that they plan to review OML B-66, which deals with surface inspections. Following this review, an updated OML will be distributed. They have asked for input from the field, so now is your chance to provide your insight. Please submit your comments to Mike Asmus, Surface Observations Program Manager(SOPM), at W/SR42x6.

TRAINING MANUAL. Dale Rodda, SAWRS Observation Specialist from the Lake Charles, LA, office has been working closely with NWSH to develop a training paper aimed at providing assistance to SAWRS & LAWRS observers. He has spent a great deal of time developing this manual and it should be available in the near future.

MISSING DATA. The amount of missing Cooperative Program data for 1997 indicates a very undesirable trend. While the percentages were below 1% for most of 1996, the numbers for 1997 have shown an increase to a high of 2.2 percent missing for the month of June. While the national statistics for the months of May and June are not yet available, it is very likely that the Southern Region's June percentage will be above the national average for the first time in several years.

COOPERATIVE PROGRAM MANAGEMENT TRAINING. The National Weather Service Training Center (NWSTC) has scheduled 5 classes for FY98. The classes are planned for December 09-18, January 27-February 5, March 10-19, May 5-14, and June 16-25. A total of nineteen seats have been allocated to the Southern Region. Please be certain that all nominations for the course are submitted to the RCPM (W/SR42x6) no later than COB September 12, 1997.

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