Source for this text: NWS Modernization WWW Page on River Forecast Centers
The role of the RFC staff is to prepare stage, flow, volume, or velocity forecasts for the next three to four days; extended range stage, flow, volume, or ice melt forecasts for more than one week into the future; flash-flood guidance; and related types of products. The basic data needed for such forecasts includes rainfall, water content of snow, current river conditions, temperature, wind and evaporation. Forecasts of seasonal snow melt or water-year runoff are prepared monthly in areas where snow is the principal source of stream flow. Additionally, RFC activities include calibrating hydrologic models, maintaining real-time hydrometeorological databases, and being involved in interagency planning activities, forecast coordination, and data exchange.
RFC staffing levels vary from location to location in response to size, hydro-climatology, and user service requirements of the area of responsiblity and the associated operational workload. The current staffing of the WGRFC as follows:
1 Hydrologist-in-Charge (HIC)
The HIC provides managerial and technical oversight for all RFC activities. He/She is involved in many cooperative efforts with other NWS offices and outside water management agencies. The HIC directs the staff effort to maintain and improve the entire suite of RFC services. HICs provide first-line supervision for the entire RFC staff and are the most knowledgeable person on overall operations. HICs report directly to the Regional Director.
1 Development and Operations Hydrologist (DOH)
The DOH provides direction for the integrated implementation and operational support of high levels of technology used at the RFC. DOHs collaborate with the Hydrologic research Laboratory (HRL) and the Hydrologic Operations Division (HOD) of the Office of Hydrology as well as with the regional headwquarters to effect implemention and continual upgrading of advanced hydrologic software systems such as the NWS River Forecast System (NWSRFS) Interactive Forecast Program. DOHs have overall responsibility for assessment of data and forecast systems deficiencies and provide direction for system modification and enhancements. Continual oversight of hydrology/hydrometeorology-specific training for the RFC staff is another important DOH responsibility.
1 Service Coordination Hydrologist (SCH)
The SCH serves as the focal point for all outreach and coordination activities for the RFC. SCHs are active in collaboration activities between partners (federal, state, and local). The SCH position is a relatively new position, with duties and work assignements continually evolving to meet customer needs.
1 Administrative Assistant
The main function of the administrative assistant is to assist in the data management effort of the office. He or she performs quality control on data collected by the RFC, such as daily precipitation and reservoir inflow volumes as measured and reported by reservoir operators. They may also perform data entry and quality control for information used to calibrate hydrologic models or verify extended-range water resources forecasts.
This position's duties include word processing, distributing mail, and finalizing correspondence documents, technical papers, et cetera written by the staff. Other administrative duties include updating time and attendance files, maintaining station correspondence files, and processing incoming telephone calls.
4 Senior Hydrologic Forecasters
Senior hydrologic forecasters lead the daily hydrologic forecast operations of the RFC. In addition, senior hydrologic forecasters have in-depth expertise in one or more specialty areas such as flash flood hydrology, extended-range streamflow forecasting, hydrometeorological data systems, computer systems, or advanced modeling techniques. Senior hydrologic forecasters apply their area of expertise towards the procedure development needs of the RFC. They also provide advice and training in their area(s) of expertise to hydrologic forecasters, HAS forecasters, and hydrologic interns. Senior forecasters also assist with the RFC's HAS functions and are part of the HAS shift rotation.
4 Hydrologic Forecasters
Hydrologic forecasters perform the daily hydrologic operations of the RFC, including both hydrologic forecasting duties and operational support. As mentioned above, operational support involves procedure development activities such as calibration of soil moisture parameters for specific basins, optimization of streamflow routing coefficients, or developing new components for CHPS. Some hydrologic forecasters also handle focal point duties. HAS shifts and duties are also performed by the hydrologic forecasters on a routine basis.
1 Senior Hydrologic Analysis and Support (HAS) Forecaster
2 Hydrologic Analysis and Support (HAS) Forecasters
The HAS forecasters have designated responsibility for the HAS functions in each RFC. Each RFC had one senior HAS forecaster and two journeyman-level HAS forecasters. HAS functions facilitate hydrometeorological operations at an RFC and capitalize on the high-resolution data sets and computational power provided by NWS observation technologies. HAS functions can be summarized as follows:
The Senior HAS forecaster provides overall program leadership of the HAS activities at the RFC. Most of the HAS shifts at an RFC are worked by members of the HAS Unit, with hydrologic forecasters working the remainder of the shifts. In addition to working HAS shifts, the Senior HAS forecaster monitors the performance of the HAS functions by the other RFC personnel, identifies where changes will benefit operations, and leads the development of new hydrometeorological procedures. They also specify local office policies for performance of routine HAS functions.
Together with the Senior HAS forecaster, journeyman HAS forecasters facilitate effective use of large volumes of hydrometeorological information and products provided by WFOs, NEXRAD radars, the NCEP, and other RFCs. The HAS Unit members have the primary role in coordinating with WFOs in the RFC's area of responsibility, although all RFC personnel participate in this effort to a significant degree. Through formal and on-the-job hydrometeorological training, the RFC's hydrologic forecasters are qualified to perform the basic HAS functions and do so, but the HAS forecasters work most of the HAS shifts. Similarly, HAS forecasters are familiar with basic hydrologic processes and modeling procedures, but currently do not routinely perform hydrologic duties.
You may read about how the HAS forecasters use the hourly digital precipitation (HDP) array from the WSR-88Ds.