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Fort Worth, Texas

February 2002


Working Together To Save Lives


AMS ANNUAL MEETING. Last month I participated along with several others from the Southern Region in the American Meteorological Society's 82nd Annual Meeting in Orlando. This is a truly international meeting, which brings together many participants from all facets of our science and services, and it is always an enlightening experience. I had the opportunity to meet and discuss issues with many of our partners on the local, regional and national levels, and I also had the chance to hear and see first-hand how effectively our SR attendees presented the important results of activities in their offices. (For the perspective from one of our forecasters in attendance, see the SSD section of this month's Topics.) Dave Sharp recruited others of the WFO Melbourne staff, and from other Florida WFOs, to provide excellent twice-daily weather briefings. All of our meeting participants did a great job and I congratulate them on their efforts. I heard many comments and compliments on the quality of work presented. The special AWIPS/IFPS session was particularly effective, and in addition to all who made presentations I want to congratulate those at NWSH and the regions who put the technical pieces together to make the session possible. Clearly the NWS left little doubt at the meeting that we're at the leading edge of forecast, warning and public service operations.

AMS HONORS. Also at the Annual Meeting last month, WFO Norman MIC Mike Foster was honored with the AMS Award for an Exceptional Specific Prediction. The award recognizes Mike's outstanding performance during the March 28, 2000 Fort Worth tornado. At the time Mike was the SOO at WFO Fort Worth. Congratulations, Mike, for this well-deserved honor.


NEW GRAPHICAL WEB PAGE. WFO Atlanta's new graphical Web page was unveiled. Take a look at it at:

UPDATED SMART TOOLS. Chris Darden, IFPS focal point at Memphis, has updated and expanded his Smart Tools, which have been added to the SRH IFPS Web site. You can find them at this link: Thanks, Chris!



SPACEFLIGHT METEOROLOGY GROUP. STS-108, the 107th Shuttle mission, lifted-off from Pad 39-B of the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida on December 5, 2001 at 22:19 UTC (4:19 PM CST) after enduring a launch scrub the previous day due to low cloud ceilings and light rain showers. The Shuttle Endeavour was launched into a 51.6 orbit inclination at an altitude of 122 nautical miles. The prime Transoceanic Abort Landing (TAL) site was Zaragoza, Spain. The weather alternate TAL sites were Moron, Spain and Ben Guerir, Morocco. The Shuttle Endeavour remained in orbit for almost 12 days while the shuttle crew delivered supplies and the Expedition 4 crew to the International Space Station.

Launch Weather: December 5, 2001

High pressure to the northeast dominated weather over Florida. Evidence of onshore flow aloft was present. Showers over land were not as evident as they were the previous day and that activity was moving westward. Surface winds were stronger than on the previous day, as well. Weak showers developed early over the water but were not a factor for Return To Launch Site (RTLS) since they met the RTLS Exception Rule of radar reflectivities less than 30 DbZ, isolated in coverage, and tops below the +5 C isotherm. Weather at the TAL sites was benign.

Landing Weather: December 17, 2001

A cold front to the northwest was moving into the Florida panhandle. A strong subsidence inversion was evident around 7,000 ft with high pressure centered to the northeast of the Cape. There was some convective activity to the south over land and water. Some weak showers developed but dissipated fairly rapidly as they penetrated the inversion. The area of convection over land to the south was moving consistently northward and was expected to impact weather at the Shuttle Launch Facility at landing time. Lower cloud ceilings were developing in this convective area. Reports of cloud ceilings of 2900 feet AGL at Melbourne and in the Orlando area prompted the forecast update of BKN030 BKN065. Despite the "NO GO" forecast, the NASA flight director made the decision to de-orbit. Onboard video of the Heads Up Display showed the orbiter breaking out of the clouds at about 5500 feet AGL for a successful landing. Showers remained offshore and were not a factor to landing.

Endeavour touched down at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on December 17, 2001 at 17:55 UTC (11:55 AM CST) and returned the Expedition 3 crew to Earth after 129 days in space. This marked the 57th shuttle landing at the Florida spaceport.

Other mission information is available at the SMG Web site at or from the NASA Public Affairs Office at and

SMG lead meteorologist Dan Bellue worked his 97th mission (18th as Lead). Wayne Baggett was the assistant lead and Doris Rotzoll was the techniques development unit meteorologist.

SHELTER-IN PLACE PROGRAM. MIC Steve Rinard (LCH) and the local parish emergency manager were invited by the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology in Washington D.C. to make presentations on their ongoing program of providing real-time weather information for emergency response activities. Of high interest was the "Shelter-in Place" program and use of the Civil Emergency Message and EAS NWR broadcasts to quickly alert the public and media of hazardous spills. This successful program has been operational for several years and will soon include graphics available over the Internet.


More Marine Reports! The U.S. Navy/Naval Meteorological and Oceanographic Command and the NDBC have worked out an arrangement to provide additional marine reports within 200 nm of our coasts. These observations should have begun after January 14. The NDBC is also working to obtain more observations from the US Coast Guard.

2002 Houston International Boat Show. The 2002 Houston International Boat Show was held on January 4-13. WFO Houston/Galveston again set up a booth among the venders of boats, marine products and services. Attendance at the show has averaged around 140,000 for the past several years and this year was no exception. This was a great opportunity for the Houston/Galveston staff to meet with the marine community as they passed by the NWS booth and enjoy their comments and suggestions.

This year an Internet connection was available at the booth which allowed the staff to show off their Web site. In addition, they showed a preview of the new graphical marine Web page many NWS offices will be implementing later this year. WFO Houston marine focal point Brian Kyle spearheaded the participation in this year's boat show. A total of 90 hours was spent at the Boat Show by the Houston staff.

Marine Graphic Page. We want your feedback on the one-stop graphical marine page. This page includes advisories, observations, the 5-day marine forecast, IFPS graphics and links - all on one page for the mariner. The customers who have seen this page have expressed how much they really like it and already plan on using it. We are currently making background maps for all SR coastal offices. Suggestions are welcome! Email

4th Annual Caribbean Boat Show. WFO San Juan participated in the 4th Annual Caribbean Boat Show at Puerto del Rey Marina and Resort in Ceiba from January 18-20. This is the largest such exhibition in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. This year the activity was attended by over 12,000 nautical enthusiasts. The WFO set up a booth among the venders of boats, marine products and services. The booth was staffed by WFO staff members and a meteorologist from TPC/NHC. Approximately 750 people visited the booth. Questions were frequently asked about how to receive weather information via the Web, especially tides, currents and water temperature. The participation was worthwhile and allowed the staff to meet with the marine community.

New Orleans PMO Jack Warrelmann Recuperating. Jack Warrelmann was on his way to drop off some VOS supplies to a ship earlier this month when he was hit by a van at a highway rest stop. Although the van dragged him for several feet and ran over him, he is doing quite well. His shoulder is broken and he will be out of work for a while and is currently recuperating at home. Everyone has pitched in to help and the outpouring of support has been wonderful. PMOs across the Weather Service have offered to help, the New Orleans staff has visited ships for Jack (including the one Jack was going to visit that day) and the NDBC is helping as well. Get well soon Jack. Jack's email is

Jacksonville's New Buoy. In last month's Southern Topics the Coastal Storms Initiative was introduced and explained. In the tech attachment, it was noted Jacksonville will get a buoy off their coast. The station ID will be 41012 and NDBC is planning for a mid-May deployment near 30N 80.3W. If everything goes according to plan, it should have an acoustic Doppler current profiler along with a single-level (2 or 3 m depth) salinity sensor, in addition to the standard meteorological instrumentation.


WFO San Juan MIC Israel Matos participated in a two-hour radio talk show with emergency managers and local government officials at Procer radio station in Comerio. Israel discussed general weather safety rules and hurricane preparedness. After the show a regional newspaper interviewed Israel on local weather patterns and the rainy spell which affected Puerto Rico during November and December 2001.

From Key West to Mt. Washington? WFO Key West WCM Wayne Presnell assisted Bryan Yeaton (Education Outreach Coordinator for the Mt. Washington, NH Observatory) give a weather presentation to 100 elementary and middle school students from the Key West area. Experiments, demonstrations, and lessons helped students and teachers understand how weather occurs and how weather affects lives. Bryan also pointed out the uniqueness and severity of weather at the summit of Mount Washington. The students enjoyed the presentation - the portion which produced the most excitement dealt with lightning and a demonstration using a Van Der Graaff static electricity generator. Other experiments demonstrated the Bernoulli effect, Coriolis Force and wind created by pressure differences.


Eight New StormReady Sites. It was a big month for StormReady in the Southern Region counties. WFO Atlanta recognized five (Jackson, Bartow, Hall, Union, and Douglas) while WFO Jacksonville recognized one (Appling). Other new StormReady communities include DeSoto County, Florida, and Columbia, Mississippi, which were recognized by the local boards at WFOs Tampa and Jackson, respectively. Fifteen StormReady sites have been recognized in Southern Region in FY02.

WFO Lake Charles Supports EMS. A southwest Louisiana petrochemical plant recently had an emergency. They thought they may have released hydrogen sulfide. Officials issued a shelter in-place alert for downtown Lake Charles. WFO Lake Charles supplied a spot forecast for the plant and helped the local emergency managers determine the threatened area based on NWS forecasts. The WFO also broadcast the shelter in-place information on the Weather Radio. Although it turned out the gas was not released, this is a good example of WFO Lake Charles' relationship with local emergency managers and the kind of weather support the NWS can provide during hazardous material emergencies.


Media Demo. WFO Nashville lead forecaster Mike Girodo assisted Nashville FOX-17's weathercaster Julia Radlick in learning about the NWS. Mike spent a few hours with Ms. Radlick, concentrating on AWIPS capabilities and the NWS forecast process.

Support for Houston Teachers. WFO Houston/Galveston lead forecaster Jon Zeitler and WCM Gene Hafele gave a presentation to about 30 teachers from the Houston area entitled "Flooding, Severe Weather Identification, and Lightning Safety." The teachers were participating in a Rice University program which gives grade school science teachers additional background on various sciences. On this particular day the subject was weather. Jon and Gene's program lasted 3 hours and included hands-on experiments. They fielded numerous questions, many of which were about flooding in the Houston area and last June's tropical storm Allison disaster.

Military Cooperation. WFO San Juan's grounds were recently used by members of the Fort Sill Field Artillery School Meteorological Branch to train Puerto Rico Air National Guard members on upper air procedures. A Humvee equipped with portable upper air release and tracking equipment was deployed at the WFO during the exercise. WFO personnel coordinated flight clearance for the releases and received an in-depth presentation of the equipment used.

Winter Weather Lead Times. Southern Region WFOs provided exceptional lead times during two winter storms which affected many parts of the region the first week in January. The average lead time for the 156 "county events" was 15.4 hours! The POD was also high (.974). To everyone involved - great job!

First Quarter Severe Weather Stats. The first three months of FY02 were especially active for severe storms and flash flooding. The preliminary verification statistics (as submitted by Southern Region WFOs) indicate that we are off to a great start goal-wise.

Tornado Warnings Oct-Dec 2001 NWS Performance Goals 2002
Probability of Detection .853 .700
False Alarm Rate .634 .700
Average Lead Time 17.1 minutes 13 minutes
Flash Flood Warnings Oct-Dec 2001 NWS Performance Goads 2002
Probability of Detection .938 .870
False Alarm Rate .207
Average Lead Time 64.7 minutes 22 minutes

Congratulations to all the offices!


NWR expansion continued in January as 1000 watt sites were installed at Palestine, Texas and Sebring, Florida. A 300 watt NWR site was installed at Lecanto, Florida.

Future NWR expansion sites to be completed in February include: Sweetwater, Texas; Atoka and Broken Bow, Oklahoma; Tifton, Georgia, and the relocation of the Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Key West, Florida NWR sites.

Eleven locations in Southern Region have recently received USDA grants for NWR systems. They are: Lobelville, Centerville,and Vale, Tennessee; Atoka, Oklahoma; Sweetwater, Uvalde, D'Hanis, Dilley, and Rio Grande City, Texas; and Broken Bow, Oklahoma. Twenty-one other potential NWR sites in the Southern Region have applied for USDA grants.

Twenty-two NWR sites that have been funded in this year's NWS budget. The locations are: Muskogee, Oklahoma; LaFollette, Fall Creek Falls State Park, Putnam County and Linden, Tennessee; Natchitoches, Bogalusa and Many, Louisiana; Center, Hillsboro, Mineral Wells, Plainview, Leakey, an El Paso Spanish site, Breckenridge, Dimmitt, Mount Pleasant, Denton/Gainesville, Van Horn, Brownwood and Fairfield, Texas, and Harrison/Jasper, Arkansas.

VOICE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT (VIP) UPDATE. WFO Melbourne completed the installation of the new voice system on January 17, and WFO Atlanta followed on the 28th. Since the installation of the voice systems were successful, all Southern Region WFOs are scheduled to receive the new VIP systems the week of February 11. Each WFO should make sure their CRS ASCII database and configuration files are updated and ready for the combination CRS Build 8.0 and VIP installation.

PILOT SAFETY WORKSHOP. On January 10, WFO Lubbock aviation program leader Jody James gave presentations on thunderstorms and aviation thunderstorm safety and service hydrologist John Lipe presented radar basics at a workshop held at Lubbock International Airport. Jody is a private pilot and an FAA designated aviation safety counselor. The workshop was co-sponsored by the WFO Lubbock, the FAA and John Boatright, the FAA safety program manager for operations with the Lubbock Flight Standards District Office. The workshop was attended by 45 aircraft owners, pilots and aviation instructors, and satisfied the safety meeting requirements for those participating in the FAA Wings program.


WFO SAN JUAN OUTREACH ACTIVITIES. On January 28, WFO San Juan MIC Israel Matos and hydrologist Eloy Colon met with the Assistant Secretary of the Puerto Rico Planning Board to discuss the Local Operational Hydrology Vision Plan. The idea behind the meeting was the creation at the local level of a comprehensive hydrology program or plan that would address the needs of all local agencies. During the two hour meeting several ideas were discussed on how the local government will support NWS goals and initiatives to improve customer services. This will include, but not limit itself to, the creation of a climate office. As this is organized, the needs of the hydrologic community will be defined. It is at this point that the Local Operational Hydrology Vision Plan can define objectives to really meet customers needs.

WFO JACKSON AND LMRFC HYDROLOGIC OUTREACH ACTIVITIES. On January 17 representatives of the National Weather Service in Jackson and the Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center (LMRFC) met with executive director Chris Bowen and other officials of the Pat Harrison Waterway District in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. MIC Jim Stefkovich and service hydrologist Marty Pope represented WFO Jackson, and MIC Dave Reed, DOH Bob Stucky and hydrologic forecaster Laurie Hall represented LMRFC. The Waterway District is a state agency representing 15 counties in the Pascagoula River Basin. The purpose of this agency is to promote conservation, development, recreation, utilization and disposal of water, including impoundment, diversion, flowage and distribution of waters for beneficial use. The District owns and operates nine water parks which are widely used by residents of central and southern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana.

The discussion centered around sharing data and agency cooperation. The NWS introduced the District officials to the various products and services that we provide which could be used by their member counties. The District will be adding weather radios at all of its water parks and will be a source the NWS can use for weather event verification. The District will also allow WFO Jackson to establish rainfall stations at each of its water parks to further its mission to provide information to its member counties. They may assist the NWS in funding rain gauges and continuing to fund some river gauges in the region.

Chris Bowen and several of the directors visited WFO Jackson the following day. They were given a tour of the NWS weather and hydrology operations. Chris said, "We were well impressed with the services your offices provide..." Chris and some of his staff plan to visit the LMRFC in the near future.

The LMRFC and WFO Jackson also visited with Terry Stead, Emergency Manager for Forest County, Mississippi. Terry was assured of the NWS support in providing timely and accurate river forecasts and greater support in the future for small streams in his county. Terry gave the NWS group a tour of his Emergency Operations Center.

WFO Jackson and LMRFC continued their visits with customers and cooperators in their Hydrologic Service Area(s). On January 30 representatives of these offices met with Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) officials. MIC Jim Stefkovich and service hydrologist Marty Pope represented WFO Jackson, while HIC Dave Reed and senior hydrologic forecaster Ethan Jolly represented the LMRFC. MEMA has the mission to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Mississippi through hazard mitigation, preparedness coordination of state resources, communications and by maintaining a response capability for meeting today's multiple threats.

The RFC and the WFO visited the State Emergency Operations Center. Dave Reed informed MEMA about the new products and services being provided by the LMRFC which can be accessed from their Web site. Jim Stefkovich emphasized the local hydrologic knowledge which resides within the WFO and a continued willingness to provide them the best meteorological and hydrologic products and services to meet their needs.

WFO TALLAHASSEE OUTREACH ACTIVITIES. On January 15, Dr. Nathaniel Bailey and six undergraduate students from Florida A&M Biological and Agricultural Systems Engineering Base program at the College of Engineering Sciences, Technology and Agriculture toured WFO Tallahassee. Dr. Bailey is particularly interested in developing cooperative projects with the National Weather Service in the field of hydrology. The students are primarily interested in bio-medical or bio-chemical careers, but were also interested in the environment, Geographic Information System (GIS) and fire weather. Senior service hydrologist Joel Lanier gave the students a short tutorial on operational hydrology and local hydrologic interests, as well as the types of jobs available in operational hydrology. The students saw a demonstration of WHFS as well as NWSRFS river model and examples of using GIS graphics. Lead forecaster Ron Block followed with an overview of meteorological operations at the office and encouraged the students to pursue a career with the National Weather Service.



NCEP Models. Bernard Meisner (SSD) will be conducting four VisitView sessions this month on the topic, "What's New and Planned for the NCEP Model Suite 2002." He will also prepare a recorded lesson for those who cannot participate in the live sessions. The dates and times are:

Tuesday, February 26th - 10:00 - 11:00 am CST & 2:00 - 3:00 pm CST
Wednesday, February 27th - 10:00 - 11:00 CST
Thursday, February 28th - 2:00 - 3:00 CST

The teletraining materials will be available for downloading around February 12 and hard copies of the presentation materials will be distributed to offices that register for the training.

Weather Event Simulator. The WDTB will present teletraining for WES Implementation and Operations beginning February 12 and continuing with three sessions per week on Tuesdays, Wednesday and Thursdays through March 7. The sessions will begin at 1:00 PM CST and cover the following:

- WES Implementation (20 minutes)
- WES Operations (30 minutes)
- Archiving (20 minutes)
- Questions (20 minutes)

Information about the training can be found at Interested offices should use the Web site to register for the training (registration began January 28), download (after February 8) the final version of the WES teletraining course, and download the first WDTB WES Simulation Guide (to be covered in the Operations part of the training). Contact the WDTB if you have any questions about this WES teletraining course.

A companion discussion forum for questions and answers related to this teletraining is available at: Please note that WES questions not related to the teletraining should be posted to the WES mailing list (see below).

Weather Event Simulator Mailing List. A mailing list for all NWS Weather Environment Simulator (WES)-related traffic has been established. The soo_wes mailing list is intended for discussions related to the WES software, hardware, local and national case studies, and training methods. For subscription instructions point your Web browser at: and choose "SOO/STRC Mailing lists"

VISIT Sessions. The Integrated Sensor Training PDS and VISIT sessions scheduled for March are as follows:

- Lightning Meteorology II (Advanced) - March 4, 6
- Lightning Meteorology I (Intermediate) - March 4
- Intro. to POES Data and Products (Basic) - March 13
- Mesoscale Analysis of Convective Weather Using GOES RSO Imagery (Basic) - March 7, 26, 27
- Enhanced-V: A Satellite Severe Storm Signature (Basic) - March 27
- Natural Disaster Information Cards (Basic) - March 28

Access the teletraining calendar at:

NWA DIGEST ARTICLE. Congratulations to John Gordon, Bobby Boyd, Mark Rose and Jason Wright, forecasters at WFO Nashville, for publication of their paper, "The Forgotten F5: The Lawrence County Supercell During the Middle Tennessee Tornado Outbreak of 16 April 1998." The paper appears in the latest (December 2000) issue of National Weather Digest. We should also note John will shortly assume new responsibilities as MIC of the new WFO in Huntsville, Alabama.

AMS EXPERIENCE. WFO Tampa Bay senior forecaster Barry Goldsmith was a very active participant in the AMS Annual Meeting a few weeks ago in Orlando. On Monday he presented a paper on effective use of AWIPS warning systems at his WFO as part of the Interactive Symposium on AWIPS. His talk focused on the issuance of short-fused hazardous weather information at the click of a mouse using WarnGen, and the efficiency of clear, concise text messages for an array of customers, including television, radio and NWR-2000. Early on Tuesday morning, Barry and Charlie Paxton (SOO) conducted the first of two daily map briefings for meeting attendees, using AWIPS and Internet displays. Later that afternoon Barry demonstrated the Tampa Bay AWIPS warning systems, using a canned severe weather case from July, 2000, as part of the NWS exhibit booth. About a dozen people stopped by, including two from the Republic of Germany, several from other NWS offices, and one from The Weather Channel. All were impressed by the efficiency of the system. Then on Wednesday afternoon Barry assisted other NWS participants (from WFOs Melbourne and LaCrosse, Wisconsin) with the same demonstration. And when not otherwise occupied, Barry attended the variety of conference and symposia sessions which comprise the annual meeting. All in all, a very busy and productive week. Well done, Barry!

UAP CALL FOR APPLICATIONS. Applications for full- and part-time university assignments as part of the University Assignment Program are being solicited. UAP information and application instructions have been sent to all offices. Contact SSD for additional information. Applications should be sent to SRH (SSD) by February 28.

J. J. STEPHENS. Long term Florida State University meteorology professor J. J. Stephens passed away on February 5. He will be remembered for his scientific contributions, uncompromising principles and teaching skills.

MELBOURNE RESEARCH VISIT. Dr. G.V. Rao and graduate student Dan Gallagher from St. Louis University (SLU) visited WFO Melbourne in early January to discuss planning for a collaborative research project dealing with tropical cyclone tornadoes. The goal of the research is to document radar signatures and help forecasters more readily identify potentially tornadic storms. The SLU visitors also provided seminars for the Melbourne staff covering their previous research activities. The WFO staff in turn shared their prior experiences and research results (see their extensive list of studies at A reciprocal visit by WFO meteorologists to SLU is tentatively planned for this coming spring.

EXECUTIVE LEADERSHIP SEMINAR (ELS). A new course is being developed at the NWS Training Center which will replace the Army's PME course (Personnel Management for Executives), which we have been able to take advantage of for the past few years. The PME was hosted by the NWSTC and NWS obtained a few seats in the course as a result. PME classes scheduled for the remainder of this year have been cancelled, to be replaced by two ELS sessions. Attached to this month's Topics is a summary of the new course, which will closely follow the PME. Individuals scheduled for the cancelled PMEs will be reassigned to ELS sessions. This new in-house course will be a significant addition to the growing number of management, supervisory and leadership training opportunities available to NWS employees.

DISCONTINUATION OF FAN PRODUCT. Note that it is the intention of the Meteorological Development Laboratory to discontinue the production of the FAN product effective May 1, 2002. Any local applications which require AVN MOS guidance text products should have switched to the use of the MAV product by this time, in order to make use of the improved AVN MOS guidance. For a comparison of both products, see:

NUMERICAL WEATHER PREDICTION TRAINING ITEMS. As part of their ongoing Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) training and education efforts, the COMET program has announced the release of two new NWP modules. These are part of a planned series of short case studies demonstrating critical thinking in the use of NWP products based on an understanding of the characteristics and limitations of NWP models and the NWP forecast process.

The first module, entitled: "Climatology of Forecast and Observed Precipitation" is a brief case study that includes maps with which one may compare model-predicted and observed frequency of 24-hour and 48-hour precipitation totals exceeding various thresholds. These may serve as a reference of characteristic model behavior. How often does the model show a forecast of one inch of precipitation in the 24-hour period ending 1200 UTC over your forecast area? Two inches? Three inches? How does this compare to the observed frequency of such events? Is a model forecast of three inches in 48 hours so unusual it indicates a rare event, perhaps with far higher actual rainfall amounts? Or could it be that such model forecasts occur spuriously on occasion and may signal nothing at all? To answer questions such as these, maps of Eta and AVN model climatology and CPC analyses of observed precipitation were developed for the Applications of NWP Concepts collection with the intention of helping you to better use and calibrate NWP model output.

The second module is entitled: "How Different Data Types Impact the Eta Analysis and Forecast." This brief case study examines how various data types impact the analysis and forecast. The module is based on the results of "A Case Study of the Sensitivity of the Eta Data Assimilation System" by Zapotocny et al., Weather and Forecasting: Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 603-622.

A specific question of the impact of data loss on the forecast arose after the loss of ACARS data following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. However, the general question of how much impact various types of data have on the analysis and forecast is a common question. While there is no simple answer, the framework for making an intelligent assessment is developed through discussion and questions based on results from the Zapotocny et al. study. Note that the COMET presentation is not a rehash of the Weather and Forecasting article. Rather, it elucidates primary factors and touches on a variety of issues raised in the NWP Professional Competency Unit One training on data assimilation.

Both modules are available from the MetEd Web site at:
( The COMET program encourages your feedback on this material. In particular, they are interested in any additions or modifications to this type of training which would make it more relevant and useful for your forecasters. You may e-mail the NWP development team at or send your comments directly to the developers of these modules, Bill Bua ( and Stephen Jascourt (

GOES SPRING ECLIPSE SEASON. The Spring 2002 Eclipse and Keep Out Zone (KOZ) schedules are now available on the Web at: The schedules, for both the Imager and the Sounder instruments for GOES-8 and GOES-10, can be viewed by selecting the entry "GOES Special Bulletins", and scrolling down to the entry for Eclipse Schedules, or by directly following the link: Note that all documents can be printed on 8.5" x 11" paper in a landscape paper setting. For your convenience, the eclipse schedules are provided in HTML, Word Perfect and Adobe PDF format.

FORECASTING RADIATION FOG COMET MODULE. The COMET Program has announced the release of a new Web-based module: "Forecasting Radiation Fog." This is the second module in the Mesoscale Meteorology Primer series. This module starts with a forecast scenario that occurs during a winter radiation fog event in the Central Valley of California. After that, a conceptual section covers the physical processes of radiation fog through its life cycle. Operational sections addressing fog detection and forecasting conclude the module.

This module includes interactive questions for the student to answer in each section. Audio and extensive graphic animation are found throughout. A version of the module suitable for printing is also available. This case is available from the "New" listing on the MetEd home page ( or it can be accessed directly at It should take approximately one to two hours to complete.

This module uses FLASH 5.0 to provide the audio and animation sequences that are part of the content presentation as well as to provide the interactivity of the embedded questions. The most recent versions of both Internet Explorer and Netscape will have the FLASH player plug-in installed. If you need to install the FLASH 5.0 player in your browser, follow the directions that are on the Forecasting Radiation Fog Window Setup page.

Users are strongly encouraged to complete the brief online survey accessed via the "Send Your Comments" link on the module's initial page. Drs. Douglas Wesley and Alan Bol led the COMET development effort for this module with the participation and advice of Dr. Wendell Nuss, Naval Post-Graduate School and Mr. Kim Curry, NPMOC-SD.

NOTE: This module is an alternate to the "Radiation Fog" module that was published under the Forecasting Low Altitude Clouds and Fog for Aviation Operations Professional Development Series ( This new Forecasting Radiation Fog module borrows much of the conceptual model discussion from the earlier module but has added instruction on detecting and forecasting radiation fog. The previously published Radiation Fog module focused primarily on physical processes of radiation fog formation.


"The AMS Council approved an AMS statement on probability forecasts at its meeting at the Annual Meeting last month. The statement outlines the current situation, opportunities, and challenges inherent in using probability forecasts. According to the statement, much of the informational content of meteorological data, models, techniques, and forecaster thought processes are not being conveyed to the users of weather forecasts. Making and disseminating forecasts in probabilistic terms would correct a major portion of this shortcoming. It would allow the user to make decisions based on quantified uncertainties with resulting economic and social benefits. Widespread implementation of probability forecasts would require forecasters to become more familiar with user needs, and users to be educated on probability forecasts and how to make optimum use of this new information. The American Meteorological Society endorses probability forecasts and recommends their use be substantially increased."

The policy statement is available on the AMS Web site at:



ET KUDOS. Commenting in a recent note to the MIC on the dedication of WFO Austin/San Antonio ET staff members, Austin private meteorologist Troy Kimmel, Jr. cited the following specific example:

As a particular example of that dedication, last Thursday, with light rain and air temperatures in the 40s, Dale [Lininger] was on site troubleshooting the [ASOS at KATT/Camp Mabry] equipment at the sensor array as I, as the manual backup observer for the site, dropped by to record the standard rain gauge data. I didn't like the idea of being out in that weather just walking over to the standard rain gauge...something that would take me three or four minutes. Dale worked in the inclement weather for the better part of the day. In conclusion, on behalf of the National Weather Service customers in the Austin area, I appreciate Brian's [Reed], Dale's, Ed's [Strouhal] and John's [Gulley] dedication to "getting the job done" in keeping our ASOS and other NWS equipment in operating condition.

Troy is associated with the University of Texas and broadcast media in Austin, and he is a long-time partner of the NWS. Such feedback is always nice to hear and we add our kudos to Troy's.

REQUIRED COMPUTER SECURITY TRAINING. Please note that the NOAA Security Awareness Training must be completed by all employees, contractors and anyone else who uses a government computer. This training must be completed before the end of this month. Note that this new on-line course implemented on December 4, 2001 must be completed by everyone.

Personnel who took the NOAA Security Awareness course prior to December 4, 2001 must re-take the course. Personnel can view and take the new course at this link: A computer registered as must be used to access this Web site.

Course completion records are to be maintained locally for all personnel. This is an annual requirement.

ZONEALARM PRO FIREWALL SOFTWARE FOR NWS LAPTOPS. We have purchased 100 copies of the ZoneAlarm Pro program to distribute throughout the region. This is a personal firewall program which will be given to field users who take their laptops out of the office and access the Internet via ISDN, Cable Modem, etc., while on travel or at home. This will give added protection from malicious attacks from the Internet. They will also have to use this program on their computer to access the network through the Virtual Private Network when it comes on line. This program will log all attempts to connect to the computers and can help track and stop the offenders through legal means.

We are also looking at a program called PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) for encrypting directories and files on computers. This is a freeware program and does not have all the bells and whistles of the commercial version, but it will perform the job of file encryption protection.

During the last couple of weeks of January Gary Petroski (SRH SOD) and WFO Nashville ESA Steve Clark have put together a test network using a Linux Red Hat 7.2 as a Primary Domain Controller. They have configured this server to run Network Address Translation (NAT), and to perform user login authentication, network file and print sharing, and serve as the region's anonymous FTP service. So far the testing is progressing extremely well. Hopefully in the next month we can slowly transition out of our Windows NT 4.0 PDC and replace it with the Linux system. Eventually we would like to replace all our Windows NT 4.0 PDC servers with this operating system. This would be a considerable cost savings compared to upgrading to the Windows XP platform.

We also have begun converting our current FTP servers that run in a DMZ to Red Hat Linux 7.2. They are currently running an old version of Turbo-Linux. We hope to have these servers up and running in a couple of weeks.

E-MAIL. We have been asked by NWS Headquarters to share our e-mail system configuration with the other regions and NWSH. Apparently we are the only region with backup hardware in place and a fail-over system which only takes a few hours to restore.

We participated in a VTC in January with the Messaging Operations Center (MOC) and all the regions regarding Netscape mail issues. A consensus was formed to initiate a training session for all mail administrators. The dates and locations have not been finalized, but topics discussed will be:

- Disaster recovery and restore of mail and directory servers
- Renaming an existing user
- Moving a user to another NOAA Netscape server
- Setting up and configuring a mailbox for sharing
- Command line utilities
- Restoring individual mailboxes/messages
- Periodic maintenance (reconstruct, etc.)

We have distributed an e-mail address change template to our ESAs and ASAs. This information is needed when an employee moves to another region, another office, retires or leaves government service. The use of this template will make the processing of this information easier and faster for those involved.

We have also successfully upgraded our Messaging Server to Version 4.7 as directed from the MOC this past month. This version seems to fix a lot of small bugs which have been evident over the years.

TELECOMMUNICATIONS. The main focus of this office now is the Tallahassee WFO move. We are tracking the installation of phone lines and circuits which include AWIPS, NWR, and the regional WAN. So far everything is going fairly well. We expect all of the circuits and lines to be tested and operational within the next couple of weeks. This will be in time for the actual office move at the end of this month. We have found problems with two of the MCI NWR circuits and are working with the telephone company to resolve these issues.

We continue to monitor the installation and testing of NWR circuits and ROAMS lines which have been ordered. There have been a couple of orders which need closer coordination than normal because they involve independent telephone companies at the remote end of the circuits.

We also continue to update the telecommunications service authorizations the field offices use to certify invoices. Some of these authorizations are outdated, some have incorrect information, and some just require updated costs. This is an on-going effort to get the records up-to-date and correct. We hope to finish this task by mid-year.

UPPER AIR. This month Charlie Lake (SOD) helped WFO Little Rock and WFO Key West track down and resolve intermittent RCU problems. It was determined the problem is related to the interface cable. Charlie also helped re-survey the target antenna at WFO Amarillo, and adjusted the elevation synchros on the system to match the new survey and re-verified the limiting angles.

AWIPS. This month the AWIPS program took a huge step forward. Two new IBM Linux machines have been delivered to all WFOs and RFCs. These machines should be ready to install at all sites by the middle of February, when a new patch will be available to fix the spontaneous log out problem. The machines are faster and more stable than the older HP-UX machines, which should improve performance at all sites. The new version of SCAN now runs on the Linux machines and is much more usable during severe weather.

AWIPS Build 5.1.2 continues to install smoothly at most sites. SRH will be releasing GFE Version 15 in February, along with an upgrade to the operating system of the GFE machines. Progress is being made on the production of Web graphics from GFE machines across Southern Region.



WFO LITTLE ROCK. Allison Davis, a tenth grade student at Benton High School, participated in job shadowing at WFO Little Rock. Allison was participating in Benton High School's "Groundhog Job Shadow Day." SOO Chris Buonanno presented a tour of the office, and gave detailed demonstrations of various office components, including AWIPS and CRS. Chris, with lead forecaster Chuck Rickard, also discussed meteorology as a career, and provided information regarding meteorology studies at the college level. Allison was able to observe all of the forecast duties with forecaster John Macleod demonstrating the duties of the short term/aviation desk and Chris Buonanno and forecaster Lance Pyle demonstrating duties on the long term/public desk.

Chris also gave a tour of the WFO to Mica England, a ninth grade student at Bismarck High School who anticipates pursuing a meteorology degree in college. She was briefed on office operations and Chris demonstrated the various forecast duties, including a severe weather warning simulation. Trisha Brune, SCEP, presented Mica with information regarding college requirements for a degree in meteorology. Trisha also gave a detailed demonstration of upper air and surface observations performed at the WFO Little Rock

Attached to this month's Topics is a poem written by Joseph Holloway, a fourth-grader at North Heights Elementary School in North Little Rock. Joseph, weather fanatic, is already a member of the Little Rock AMS/NWA chapter. We look forward to him reporting for duty at WFO Little Rock in 2014.

WFO SAN JUAN. HMTs Robert Mitchell, Jesus Figueroa and Vidal Santiago have enrolled in a Dynamic Meteorology I course at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez Campus Physics Department. Upon completion of this course they will have complied with part of the requirements to eventually cross over to the meteorologist (1340) series. This training was tailored by the University mostly for NWS employees, and represents a step forward in the eventual establishment of an Atmospheric Science Program in Puerto Rico.

WFO SHREVEPORT. Forecaster Bill Parker and ASA Lisa Farrar gave a talk to 85 students from Youree Drive Middle School in Shreveport on the operations of the National Weather Service. Bill also gave a talk to 300 preschoolers from Caddo Parish Head Start in Shreveport on Safety Prepardness Procedures.

WFO TALLAHASSEE. Senior forecaster and EEO focal point Ron Block represented the NWS at the Leon County Education Expo which promotes educational and outreach opportunities for area students and faculty. He also spoke on career opportunities in science at the Martin Luther King Youth Leadership Banquet which focuses on opportunities for African American students. Ron delivered a lecture on the value of mathematics in meteorology at Rickards High School. He and hydrologist Joel Lanier hosted six hydrology students from Florida A&M University, a traditional minority servicing institution. Joel discussed NWS hydrologic operations and career opportunities. Ron focused on overall NWS operations and especially the interaction between hydrology and fire weather. The students were very interested in the presentation and this office will attempt to expand NWS-Florida A&M interchanges.

CWSU HOUSTON. MIC Vince Carreras represented the NWS at the 16th Annual Career and Education Day presented by the Houston Hispanic Forum. Attending were sixth through 12th grade students from both public and private schools in and around the Houston area. Several thousand students attended the all day event. Vince spoke with several hundred students, parents, teachers and counselors about careers in both meteorology and hydrology. He also distributed hundreds of NOAA/NWS brochures about the Student Employment Program.

Special thanks to the FAA and the National Hispanic Coalition of Federal Aviation Employees who allowed Vince to represent the NWS at their booth.


JANUARY 1 - 31, 2002

Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
Richard J. Davis WFO AMA Retirement HMT, GS-11
Robert Petersen WSO HSV Retirement El Tech, GS-11
John Jamison WFO LUB Retirement HMT, GS-11
T. L. Farrow WFO FWD Retirement RMS, GS-13

Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Gina Tillis RFC ORN New Hire HAS Forecaster, GS-12
Daniel Byrd WFO JAN Reassignment from AR HMT, GS-11
Mark Wilson WFO JAN Reassignment from CR HMT GS-10
Joseph P. Camp WFO JAX Reassignment from ER Forecaster, GS-9
Raymond Sondag WFO TSA Reassignment from CR Forecaster, GS-12
Debora Potts WFO LZK New Hire ASA, GS-6
Kenneth Pavelle RFC TUA New Hire Hydrologist, GS-11
Brandon Bolinski WFO EYW New Hire Met Intern, GS-9
Kristina Sumrall WFO BMX Reassignment from WR HMT, GS-11
John Pike WFO OUN New Hire Met Intern, GS-5
James Wingenroth WFO AMA New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Dan Dixon WFO FWD Reassignment from BRO Forecaster, GS-9
Carolyn Levert RFC ORN Reassignment from HGX HAS Forecaster, GS-11
Hector Guerrero WFO SJT Reassignment from BRO WCM, GS-13
Jim Purpura WFO CRP Reassignment from OUN MIC, GS-14
Aldis Strautins WFO ABQ Reassignment from EWX Forecaster, GS-9
Brad McGavock WFO TSA Promotion from MAF Forecaster, GS-11
Lawrence Vannozzi WFO LUB Promotion from SRH MIC, GS-14
Jeff Williams WFO OUN Promotion from FWD ESA, GS-13
Perry Martin WFO ABQ Reassignment from MAF Senior Forecaster, GS-13
Richard Smith WFO OUN Promotion from SRH WCM, GS-14
James Noel WFO FFC Promotion from FFS Sr. Srvc Hydrologist, GS-13
Mark Keehn WFO HGX Reassignment from SMG ITO, GS-13
Vaughn Ball WFO MOB Promotion from MOB ITO, GS-12
Mark W. Rose WFO BMX Promotion from BMX Senior Forecaster, GS-13

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