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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
Fort Worth, Texas

September 1, 1999

SOUTHERN TOPICS


REGIONAL DIRECTOR

IMPORTANCE OF AVIATION WEATHER FORECASTS. Aviation and the National Weather Service have been linked from the moment Orville and Wilbur Wright flew the first airplane in 1903. In fact, the brothers used the Weather Bureau telegraph network from Kitty Hawk to cable home the historic news, and their request, "inform press." Since that historic moment over 96 years ago, we have shared history with our customers and partners of the aviation community. The Air Commerce Act in 1926 was passed by Congress and signed by the President to enhance aviation services and improve operations of the Weather Bureau. This critical piece of critical legislation established the framework for hourly aviation weather reporting stations across the nation, and made the Weather Bureau responsible for weather services to civilian aviation. In 1940, the Weather Bureau was transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of Commerce because of the importance of aviation weather forecasts, that is, the impact of weather forecasts on commerce of the nation.

As we prepare to begin a new millennium, the aviation community remains dependent on timely and accurate weather forecasts. One-quarter to one-half of all aircraft accidents, including those involving fatalities, are weather-related. An average of 440 lives are lost annually as a result of these accidents.

Accidents aside, recent media stories have brought to light growing public frustrations over the increasing number of flight delays in the commercial aviation business. The economic loss resulting from these delays is estimated at more than $1 billion a year. Adverse weather is a causal factor in many of these slowdowns. While we in the NWS have no control over the weather, improved aviation forecasts and services can greatly benefit our aviation partners, including general, business, and commercial aviation. In particular, accurate aviation forecasts contribute to reducing delays by helping traffic planners, controllers, dispatchers and pilots make maximum use of the National Airspace System (NAS).

At last count, it costs an airline, on average, $85-95 per minute in fuel expenditures to operate a commercial aircraft. Although the amount is less for business and general aircraft, the financial impact is still significant. Once airborne, a flight crew has few options when confronted with adverse weather en route to their intended destination. They can deviate from the intended route to skirt areas of hazardous weather; hold in the vicinity of the destination airport, waiting for weather to improve; divert to an alternate airport, should the weather persist; or, by default, fall victim to an uncontrolled forced landing (not a good option for anyone involved).

Our forecasts are important to the aviation community. Accurate aviation forecasts result in major financial savings for pilots, not to mention personal safety. We in the Southern Region take this responsibility seriously. The NWS Strategic Plan highlights areas of commitment for the agency toward improving aviation forecasts, and we will work hard to achieve those goals. We want to work more closely with our aviation partners and customers to better understand their needs, both now and into the future. We already have an extensive amount of information through the Center Weather Service Units (CWSUs) and will build on that connection with the FAA. We will tap the CWSU expertise to develop aviation training for our forecasters. We also will work closely with NCEP, especially the Aviation Weather Center, to improve guidance for issuing aviation forecasts from the WFOs and CWSUs.

We are in the process of establishing a regional team, consisting of both WFO and CWSU personnel, to examine every aspect of the aviation program, including forecast verification, coordination, product generation and dissemination, and training. This team will serve as the nucleus for enhancing the aviation weather program in the Southern Region. I ask that all Southern Region employees cooperate with the work of this team and help launch a new era of enhanced aviation weather services.

Experts estimate that improvements to aviation forecasts will, over the next 10-15 years, produce potential benefits of approximately $22 billion to the aviation industry and the flying public. When safety is considered, the benefits become incalculable. With your help, we will be part of this important process.

NEW ADMIN CHIEF. It is a pleasure for me to announce the selection of Glen Heaton as the new Chief of the SRH Administrative Management Division. Glen reported for duty this week and brings with him a wealth of experience in the area of budget development and execution. For the past 12 years he has been the Regional Budget Officer at Western Region Headquarters. He designed and implemented a computerized financial management system which is being used by the NWS regions. At SRH, Glen will supervise a group of highly motivated employees who are responsible for accomplishing the many administrative functions of the region. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the ADMIN staff for their hard work and commitment during the several months a permanent chief was not onboard. In particular, Ted Ferguson provided outstanding leadership as Acting Chief of the division. I appreciate their efforts. Welcome aboard, Glen.

AWIPS

AWIPS UPGRADES. AWIPS build 4.2.2 was installed in 19 Southern Region offices as of the end of August. The installation schedule has been slowed by poor system performance at some sites; hardware upgrades are being bought to alleviate this poor system performance. Sites which have a single D370 processor in their data servers will be upgraded to dual D380 processors. All sites will have their workstation memory doubled from 256 to 512 megabytes. The 4.2.2 install schedule will resume after the upgrades, which are expected in October.

AWIPS build 4.2.3 will be shipped to all offices this month, and can be installed after build 4.2.2 is loaded. This load fixes problems with interfacing AWIPS to external machines, such as PCs and upper air computers. After this build sites will begin shifting all their computers from AFOS to AWIPS.

Once the computers are shifted over to AWIPS, sites will begin testing for commissioning. The first step in being ready to test is to make sure every text product an office could issue is listed in the file /awips/fxa/data/afos2awips.txt. Missing entries should be reported to Matt Strahan (SOD) and the Site Support Team. This includes METAR sites and upper air sites that may use their office as a backup dial-in site.

NEW AWIPS SYSTEM MANAGER COURSE. The NWS Training Center will offer a new course in FY2000, specifically designed for the WFO ESAs and ETs at the RFCs. The objective of the course is to provide students with a deeper understanding of AWIPS hardware, communications, software components and dataflow, than what was gained in prior AWIPS CUT training. More information about the course can be found on the NWSTC Web site at http://www.nwstc.noaa.gov/d.EED/ec_awipssm.html#START.

METEOROLOGICAL SERVICES DIVISION

SOUTHERN REGION HEADQUARTERS IN A FLASH. The NWS Southern Region will be a partner in a new state mitigation project in Florida. Project FLASH (Florida Alliance for Safe Homes) is a group of individuals from both private and public sectors. The mission is to reduce deaths, injuries, property damage, economic losses and human suffering caused by hurricanes and natural disasters. Steven Cooper, Acting Chief MSD, represented the NWS and the Southern Region in recent meetings. Great opportunities exist to expand NWS preparedness activities and assist in the recognition of the NOAA Weather Radio as an essential part of making one's home safe. He will work with other FLASH participants such as Habitat for Humanity and several of the nation's largest insurance companies in these efforts. This includes providing links to NWS information on their Web sites.

For example, the Habitat for Humanity builds homes to an area's building codes or higher. They include fire and smoke alarms in their homes and even provide the new homeowner with a fire extinguisher. They are intrigued with the idea of including an NWR in the new homes. They build about 12,500 homes per year throughout the nation. State Farm Insurance has a "Good Neighbor House" in Deerfield Beach, Florida which showcases what individuals can do to reduce costly repairs. Steven suggested, and the representatives were very receptive to the idea, of including an NWR receiver in this home. Steven will also work with the FLASH Executive Director by providing preparedness and other informational materials for reproduction and distribution. A tremendous opportunity for the NWS and for working toward our strategic goals.

SUSTAINABLE SEAS EXPEDITIONS. NOAA is a partner in the Sustainable Seas Expedition project, a $6 million, five-year initiative to explore, document and provide critical scientific data on America's coastal waters. The goal is to develop a strategy for the restoration and conservation of the nation's marine resources. The expedition was near Key West last month and plans were to begin studies off the Texas/Louisiana coasts this month. The National Geographic Society is another partner, and considerable media attention is expected as a result. Southern Region offices are poised to provide assistance as necessary. More information can be found at the following sites:

http://sseplanning.nos.noaa.gov and http://sustainableseas.noaa.gov.

WARNING IMPROVEMENT. The NWS Strategic Plan outlines goals for the coming years, and improvements in warning verification statistics are high on the list of things we will be working on as part of that plan. We have begun the Warning Improvement Project (WIP) to find ways to make our warnings more accurate, reliable and effective. The Senior Forecaster Symposium was the first step in that project. In the next few months we will be soliciting information from Southern Region offices concerning all aspects of the severe weather program, including training, verification, operations, etc. This information will provide a basis for working with all offices toward improving the way we warn the public about severe weather.

More information about the WIP can be found at http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ftproot/msd/html/wip.htm. That site includes most of the presentations from the Senior Forecaster Symposium, WarnGen guidance material, a library of call-to-action statements, and more. Refer to the site often, as new material will be added. Feedback from Southern Region offices is extremely important and helpful, so let MSD know what you think.

PRODUCT TIPS OF THE MONTH. Here are a few tips which we hope will correct or improve some problems we've noticed in our products.

Remember "affect" is a verb, "effect" is a noun, and use them accordingly.

THE STORM WILL AFFECT..

THE EFFECTS OF THE STORM WILL BE FELT FOR MONTHS...

Denoting time - be specific :

Bad: THE TORNADO WILL AFFECT THE METRO AREA DURING THE NEXT HALF HOUR...

Good: THE TORNADO WILL AFFECT THE METRO AREA BETWEEN 110 PM AND 125 PM.

Reference to location - be specific:

Bad: SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE ACROSS THE AREA THROUGH 9 PM.

Good: SHOWERS WILL CONTINUE IN MARION AND HAMILTON COUNTIES...

Denoting time - remember guidelines and avoid redundancy:

Bad: 6:30 PM THIS EVENING (Colons not allowed; "PM" and "this evening" are redundant.)

Good: 630 PM (or 630 THIS EVENING)

Avoid unnecessary words:

Bad: THUNDERSTORM ACTIVITY...

Good: THUNDERSTORMS...

HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS. September marks the peak in the hurricane season. In anticipation, our coastal offices have continued their preparedness and coordination efforts.

When a tropical cyclone threatens landfall, the TPC/NHC assembles a Hurricane Liaison Team (HLT) at the National Hurricane Center. Last month, Southern Region meteorologists played a major role during Bret and Dennis. Ron Block (NWSO Tallahassee), Scott Spratt (NWSO Melbourne), Perry Martin (NWSO Midland), and WCM Roger Erickson (NWSO Lake Charles) provided support to the HLT. Their duties included providing briefings during FEMA conference calls and interpreting meteorological data for the emergency managers on the HLT.

In addition to the Southern Region personnel noted above who were involved with service support as part of the Hurricane Liaison Team during Bret and Dennis, NWSO Jacksonville MIC Steve Letro recently pulled temporary duty at the NHC. He provided relief for NHC Director Jerry Jarrell and his staff by handling media interviews.

NWSFO New Orleans/Baton Rouge MIC Paul Trotter participated in the St. Tammany Parish hurricane preparedness conference in Covington, Louisiana. Over 60 parish officials attended the conference, which featured presentations by parish emergency directors, National Guard, American Red Cross, state police, and social service representatives. Paul's presentation described hurricane climatology, NWS modernization, and hurricane-related products and services.

NWSO Corpus Christi WCM Terry Huber participated in a tabletop hurricane exercise in Victoria, Texas. The drill was hosted by the American Red Cross and included over 100 participants from a three-county area around Victoria. Representatives from numerous city and county agencies and several major industries attended the exercise. All participants brought their hurricane plans for comparison with each other and with the products which would be prepared by the NHC and the NWSO.

NWSO New Orleans/Baton Rouge WCM Frank Revitte provided training in HURREVAC and SLOSH software display programs to representatives from seven southeastern Louisiana emergency management offices. The HURREVAC program has recently undergone major revisions, and Frank's program was at the request of these agencies. In addition, the Lake Pontchartrain SLOSH basin has been updated, along with the display software. Frank's presentation also addressed the updates to this program.

NWSFO Miami WCM Jim Lushine was the keynote speaker at the graduation ceremony for 200 Broward County Community Emergency Response members. The two-hour program included speeches by local politicians, heads of local law enforcement, and emergency management coordinators. Jim's presentation, which lasted almost one hour, focused on hurricane preparedness and response issues.

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT/SPOTTER SUPPORT. Following are a few highlights from across the Region.

NWSO Morristown conducted a series of workshops in cooperation with the East Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. The goal of the workshops was to make the office's customers more familiar with the programs, products and services provided. MIC Jerry McDuffie, WCM Howard Waldron, SOO Stephen Parker, and service hydrologist Bryan Boyd discussed warnings, verification, and the transfer of information to and from the NWSO. The emergency managers and the NWS staff have found this a beneficial means of getting to know each other's programs and requirements.

NWSFO Austin/San Antonio WCM Larry Eblen provided an orientation program for 55 new Texas emergency managers. Larry's presentation was part of the Texas Division of Emergency Management's three-day workshop. Larry provided the attendees with information on NWS offices and their service areas, how to contact local WCMs, and safety information on floods, lightning, and tornadoes.

NWSO Midland WCM George Mathews and MIC Ray Fagen, along with NWSO El Paso MIC Max Blood gave a two-hour weather presentation to 60 park rangers from Carlsbad Caverns and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks. The program described basic weather spotter training, flash flood safety, lightning safety, and an overview of NWS products and services.

NWSFO Little Rock WCM John Robinson teamed up with the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management to promote safe rooms in homes as described by FEMA. The promotion took place in Conway, Arkansas, and included a pop-up display with several photos of the safe room which survived the May 3 tornado in Midwest City, Oklahoma. The display also featured severe weather brochures, booklets describing safe rooms, and coloring books. John reported a strong turnout with a surprising number of people already familiar with the safe room concept.

MEDIA/PUBLIC OUTREACH. Significant contacts and some other noteworthy projects:

NWSFO Austin/San Antonio WCM Larry Eblen and NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas WCM Jim Stefkovich each conducted weather safety classes for the National Transportation Safety Institute. Attendees were driver education instructors from across Texas. The program included an overview of severe weather climatology, storm models and their life cycles, and classification of tornadoes. The main portion of the program was a discussion of flood safety and the dangers posed by flooding to vehicles.

NWSFO Atlanta hosted the monthly meeting of the Society of Broadcast Engineers. MIC Carlos Garza provided some opening comments, then opened the meeting for questions and answers. WCM Barry Gooden, DAPM Frank Taylor, and ESA Brian Burgess were also available to answer questions and assist with the office tour which followed. The engineers were impressed with the office and had some suggestions and input regarding CRS and its relation to EAS.

NWSO Nashville WCM Jerry Orchanian reported the NWSO will partner with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Tennessee Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters to teach a series of four safety classes. Severe weather safety will be a significant theme in the classes, which will be conducted in the Nashville/Clarksville areas. As an incentive, trainees who attend all four classes will receive a NOAA Weather Radio. If the Nashville/Clarksville pilot project is successful, the program will be expanded to other areas in the state.

NWSFO Fort Worth/Dallas WCM Jim Stefkovich has met with officials of the Dallas and the Fort Worth Independent School Districts. The purpose of these visits was to encourage regular tornado safety drills in the schools. Jim used the "Drill Today, Survive Tomorrow" video distributed by NWSFO Birmingham. The meetings have been successful: This past spring, the Dallas School District conducted approximately 200 drills involving 140,000 students. Over 100 schools purchased tone-alert NOAA Weather Radios. The Fort Worth School District reports that most of their schools already have NWR receivers, and they will encourage the development of regular severe weather safety drills.

HYDROLOGIC SERVICES DIVISION

HYDROLOGIC EVENT REPORTING HOTLINE. HSD now assists MSD in the preparation of the For-the-Record (FTR) memos for weather events. A hotline for flood and flash flood events is now operational. When a field office calls the hotline to report an event, they are asked to transfer to the hydro hotline if the event is hydrologic in nature. The HSD staff then prepares the appropriate FTR memos. These record memos provide important documentation for significant events and are frequently used for subsequent follow-up activities.

OFFICE OF HYDROLOGY DOCUMENTATION ON THE WEB. The Office of Hydrology posts extensive documentation on their home page which can provide field offices with information to support local operations. The URL for the OH home page is http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh. Some of the information on the home page and the associated URLs include the following:

1. Current national hydrologic conditions including river/streamflow information, drought information, flood summary, and historical flood fatality and damage information.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hic/index.html

2. Information about Probable Maximum Precipitation and precipitation frequency definitions, reports, and ongoing projects.

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hdsc/index.html

3. WFO Hydrologic Forecast System (WHFS), including:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hod_whfs/

You can also submit a request for change (for example a WHFS enhancement or improvement) to one of the WHFS support team staff via this URL.

http://hsp.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hrl/general/indexdoc.htm

5. Documentation about the methodologies used to compute modernized flash flood guidance.

http://hsp.nws.noaa.gov/oh/hrl/ffg/modflash.htm

The OH home page also has links to other information such as documentation for the Hydrometeorological Automated Data System, scientific publications and research papers, hydrologic service assessments, and low water crossing information. We recommend that you continually peruse the Web site for new and updated information about the NWS hydrology program.

HYDROLOGIC DATA FROM OCTOBER 1998 TEXAS FLOODS. The U.S. Geological Survey district office in San Antonio has compiled a tabular summary (see http://tx.usgs.gov/alert/oct_floods_98.html) of the estimated peak discharge and gauge height values observed during the south Texas floods of October 1998. Of note, water surface elevations and streamflow discharges at about 18 stream gauging stations peaked at record or near record levels in the major streams and tributaries of the San Jacinto, San Benard, Lower Colorado, Lavaca, Guadalupe, and San Antonio basins.

The district office is also finalizing a fact sheet on this event which will be available for distribution in the fall. The fact sheet will focus on the hydrometeorology of the event in both the San Antonio and Guadalupe river basins. NWSFO Austin/San Antonio provided input for the fact sheet. The information contained in the attachment will become official after the district office publishes the fact sheet and the 1998 Annual Water Data Report for Texas.

WHFS TRAINING WORKSHOP. Southern Region HSD recently sponsored a WFO Hydrologic Forecast System training workshop hosted by NWSFO Austin/San Antonio. Participants included primarily service hydrologists and hydro focal points from most Texas WFOs. Ernie Cathey, service hydrologist NWSFO Fort Worth, Dave Schwertz, senior service hydrologist NWSO Houston, and Ben Weiger, deputy chief, SR HSD, made presentations at the workshop. Ernie focused his presentation on editing river product formatter templates. Dave gave a presentation on how to construct a daily river summary product using the river product formatter, and Ben gave a presentation on using INFORMIX to extract hydrologic information from the WFO hydrologic database and generating reports using the PERL application in AWIPS.

The workshop provided supplemental training to assist HSA offices in Texas in formatting the content of their hydrologic products. Special thanks to MIC Al Dreumont and service hydrologist John Patton for hosting the workshop.

HPC VISITORS AT THE RFCS. Forecasters from the NCEP Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) plan to visit Southern Region RFCs this month and next. Their goals are to (1) familiarize HPC forecasters with RFC forecast operations, with emphasis on the QPF generation process, (2) provide HPC forecasters with a better understanding of RFC requirements for QPF, based on the Modernized End-To-End Forecast Process for Quantitative Precipitation Information Plan dated January 1999, and (3) familiarize RFC personnel with HPC forecast operations.

NEWS FROM OUR RIVER FORECAST CENTERS

SOUTHEAST RIVER FORECAST CENTER

Planned New Hydrologic Forecast Services. The Southeast RFC recently conducted a conference call with representatives from NWSOs Melbourne and Tampa Bay Area, and the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) to discuss plans to initially implement experimental river forecast services in the St. Johns River Basin. Three new forecast points will be located in the NWSO Melbourne HSA, on the St. Johns River above Lake Harney, near Sanford and near Deland.

Working with SJRWMD the Southeast RFC will develop the hydrologic model procedures and perform the necessary hydrologic model calibration to prepare and generate experimental forecasts at these new locations. The is to do so by March, 2000. The RFC and SJRWMD will evaluate the experimental model forecasts for several months and implement the new river forecast services sometime in the fall next year.

WEST GULF RIVER FORECAST CENTER

Technology Transfer Project With Mexico. The West Gulf RFC, in coordination with the Office of Hydrology's Technology Transfer Center, provided the Mexican weather service with precipitation and runoff forecasts during the recent flood on the Rio Grande. Such coordination will continue to increase in the coming years. In collaboration with the Mexican Comision Nacional del Agua, and a private sector firm called Riverside Technologies, Inc (RTI), OH plans to spin up several Mexican River Forecast Centers within the next few years. The NWS River Forecast System technology will be transferred to these centers so they can issue river forecasts for river basins in Mexico. Personnel from the West Gulf RFC plan to meet with Mexican engineers to assist in training and to provide them with assistance in setting up their center operations. In the last few weeks, 41 of 44 Mexican satellite data collection platforms began transmitting hydrometeorological data which will be used by the West Gulf RFC and the Mexican River Forecast Centers to support forecast operations in both countries.

SCIENTIFIC SERVICES DIVISION

PC-GRIDDS MODEL OUTPUT FOR IMETS. Fire behavior analysts frequently ask our Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) deployed on wildfires to provide forecasts beyond 48 hours. At remote sites, particularly in the NWS Western Region, the IMETs do not have Internet access. To meet the needs of these IMETS, Southern Region SSD, at the request of Western Region, now provides PC-GRIDDS MRF model output for Days One through Five. The files are sent to Western Region for transmission to the remote IMETs via packet radio and are also available to IMETS on the Southern Region Web server.

WEEKLY THREATS ASSESSMENT. NCEP will be making a nationally coordinated Threats Assessment product -- developed in response to the 1997 El Niño outlook -- operational as soon as possible. The basic idea behind the Threats Assessment is to create an easily accessible, seamless suite of NWS forecasts. Bernard Meisner (SSD) is the Southern Region focal point for this activity.

Each Monday HPC/CPC will post their preliminary products for the weekly Threats Assessment on a password protected Web page. "Threats" are defined as predicted strong events, ranging from seasonal anomalies, through significant 6-10 day or Week Two averages, to extreme weather events, predicted as little as three days ahead. The Assessment does not deal with Days One or Two. Field offices are invited to review the material for possible inclusion in their extended forecasts and to provide comments/suggestions to NCEP via e-mail by Tuesday morning. The Threats Assessment Web page will then be made available to the public each Tuesday at noon. NCEP then conducts a weekly conference call with our external customers (FEMA, Red Cross, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, etc.) on Wednesday morning.

DROUGHT LINKS. SSD has added a hot link to the Southern Region Web page (http://www.srh.noaa.gov) which provides quick and easy access to the NOAA Drought Information page, the NWS Climate Prediction Center (CPC) U.S. Threats Assessment page, and the USDA/NOAA Drought Monitor Page, all of which were mentioned during the White House press conference on August 11. An NWS Public Information Statement was also issued last month to heighten awareness of what will be an on-going Threats Assessment service from CPC. Offices should encourage those with questions to investigate the drought/heat wave links via the convenient SRH Web site.

HELP FOR THE NAVY. NWSO Melbourne will be assisting the U.S. Navy by providing copies of WSR-88D Level II (base data) tapes. The USS O'Kane (DDG77) will transit the East Coast on the way to its new home port in Hawaii, collecting data during the cruise in order to support development of advanced weather algorithms on an at-sea phased array radar. Timeliness is important to adjust the algorithms while the ship is underway. The plan is to accommodate the Navy's twice-only request by providing them with tapes on two days when O'Kane will be just offshore.

The Melbourne office is well equipped to assist with this project, having acquired the capability a couple of years ago to duplicate the archive tapes in support of NASA's TRMM (Tropical Rainfall Monitoring Mission) project.

STATEMENT ON PUBLIC/PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP. Last July the American Meteorological Society Executive Committee adopted a statement on the "Public/Private Partnership in the Provision of Weather and Climate Services." This policy statement can be found on the AMS Web site at http://www.ametsoc.org/AMS/policy/pubprivpartner.html. The AMS recognizes the important roles played by both the public (NOAA/NWS) and private sectors, and the importance to the nation of effective partnership between the two. We encourage everyone to review the AMS statement.

BRAVO PROFILERS IN TEXAS. NOAA's Environmental Technology Lab (ETL) is working with the Environmental Protection Agency and National Park Service to determine sources of air pollution in West and Southwest Texas, originating from both the U.S. and Mexico. This initiative, known as BRAVO (Big Bend Regional Aerosol and Visibility Observational Study) is in response to complaints about worsening air pollution in recent years from residents of the Texas Trans-Pecos area and staff of Big Bend National Park. ETL is gathering data from four mobile weather units consisting of a 915 MHz wind profiler, a Radio Acoustic Sounding System (for vertical temperature and moisture profiles), and complete surface weather observations. Data from the portable units are available on the Web in near real time (http://www7.etl.noaa.gov/data/). The BRAVO units are located at Eagle Pass, along the Rio Grande, at Llano in the Texas Hill Country, at the Big Bend National Park, and at NWSO Brownsville.

Brownsville forecasters have found the data very useful in tracking easterly waves and verifying model guidance. The BRAVO project began last July 1 and will continue through October. One ETL staffer is working on an algorithm to minimize bird flight contamination in radar wind data. He will travel to Brownsville during the fall bird migration to collect additional data, capitalizing on the office's location along the major bird flyway, as well as being a site equipped with both the WSR-88D and upper air.

50 YEARS OF TORNADO FORECASTING. The latest (August) special issue of the AMS journal Weather and Forecasting commemorates the pioneering work of Miller and Fawbush who issued the first tornado forecast in 1948. It contains papers which describe the origin of official tornado forecasts, the birth and early years of the NWS (Weather Bureau) storm prediction center, and trends in forecast accuracy. Congratulations to Alan Moller (FIC, NWSFO Fort Worth), who co-authored one of the papers, "Storm Spotting and Public Awareness since the First Tornado Forecasts of 1948." As we work toward and anticipate increased accuracy in our warnings, it's useful to look back at where we've come from.

COMET UPDATE

COMAP. The ninth two-month COMAP course for SOOs is currently underway and is progressing smoothly. Steve Koch (NC State University) and Phil Schumacher (SOO, NWSO Sioux Falls) are leading the course. Two Southern Region SOOs are among the 15 students.

Aviation Training. Work continues on developing the Professional Development Series (PDS) for "Forecasting Low-altitude Clouds and Fog for Aviation Operations," focusing on physical processes. A Web module, "The Role of Radiative Processes in the Evolution of Radiation Fog," is under development, and completion is tentatively expected this month. Planning is commencing for the second module on coastal/advection fog with completion targeted for next spring.

Outreach. A survey was sent to all SOOs asking for their input on the Training Resource Center (http://meted.ucar.edu/resource/soo/index.htm), developed by Vickie Johnson. Preliminary analysis indicates the SOOs like what they see, even if they haven't had time to take full advantage of what is available. Several have suggested they will be better able to use the TRC once the AWIPS installations are completed. The responses will be more thoroughly analyzed and Vickie will provide recommendations for the future of the TRC.

AWIPS VALIDATION EFFORT AT COMET. The Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) has begun to document and validate AWIPS algorithms. The goal is to provide a resource for reports on AWIPS validation, documentation of selected algorithms, an updated list of links to current validation issues of interest, and a means to report problems and provide comments. The Web site is: http://www.meted.ucar.edu/awips/validate

This site currently provides a link to the Phase 1 report on the AWIPS basic fields found in the model browser. This page will be updated frequently with hot topics, additional documentation and other useful information. COMET is currently working on the AWIPS derived thermodynamic variables, such as dew point, equivalent potential temperature, lifted index, etc. They have noted some discrepancies between the equivalent potential temperature fields plotted using AWIPS and GEMPAK, and one bug in the AWIPS sounding parameter calculation which has been noted and fixed.

NWS TRAINING CENTER NEWS

The slide packages for the AWIPS Build 4.2 TDL Applications teletraining are available at http://www.nwstc.noaa.gov/d.HMD/HMD_ATT.HTML for download from the NWSTC teletraining page. The Optel Telewriter 2000 software will be used for these presentations. Subject matter experts from the Techniques Development Lab at NWSH will also participate in most of the sessions.

Updated WHFS lesson plans for on-station training of HydroView and RiverPro are available at http://www.nwstc.noaa.gov/d.HMD/HMD_HYD.HTML for download on the NWSTC Hydrology page. These updates integrate the changes that occurred with WHFS, Build 4.2, into the training material.

A clearinghouse for non-NWS IT (Information Technology) training sources is now accessible from the NWSTC home page (http://www.nwstc.noaa.gov/). It allows the entry and search/retrieval of information on a variety of IT training subjects, provided by many different vendors. The NWSTC would appreciate hearing about other sources which they might add to the list.

NEW DEVELOPMENTS. Recent DOC press releases called attention to the following, both of which will be of interest to forecasters.

Three-dimensional satellite images of hurricanes and tropical storms are now available on-line through a new service provided by the NOAA/NESDIS Visualization Lab. The images are updated regularly to show timely images of tropical storms and depressions. The Web address is http://www.nnvl.noaa.gov.

CoastWatch is a NOAA program providing remotely sensed, environmental data (including sea-surface temperatures - SST) to governmental and scientific communities. There are several Regional Nodes located throughout the United States enabling the processing and distribution of CoastWatch data. The Caribbean Regional Node, including the Gulf of Mexico, is located at NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Lab (AOML) in Miami. Though still under construction, products are available at http://cwcaribbean.aoml.noaa.gov/. When you access that site you will be asked to register. Follow the instructions to obtain a user ID and password.

Of related interest to the above is this site: http://www.iaslinks.org/. It endeavors to foster oceanographic research in the Gulf of Mexico/Caribbean Sea (the Intra-Americas Sea) system. The goal is to develop an interest in regional scale coordinated studies, by helping to disseminate information on ongoing research programs, existing data sources, and regional institutions, scientists, and organizations. It links to CoastWatch, but also provides a variety of other related links. It also features a nice tour of the Caribbean (click on the flags).

WEB SITE KUDOS. In the words of NWSO Jacksonville MIC Steve Letro, this is the kind of customer feedback which makes our day. Pat Welsh (SOO) received the following message recently:

Dr. Welsh,
I have been using your site for weather information for many months and
I want to say that you and your people are #1 with me. It's good to have people
who are so knowledgeable and can keep me up-to-date with accurate forecasts.
Living in a mobile home here in Gilchrist County we have to be always on the
alert for bad weather. A few years ago we had a tornado take off half our roof.
After that is when I found your site and use it almost on a daily basis. During
this hurricane season I have stayed with you through the tracking of Dennis and
I never cease to be amazed how accurate you are with your predictions. I've
learned a lot about weather since the tornado hit, mostly because I found that by
learning and understanding why things happen as they do, I feel a little more at
ease. So please extend our thanks to everyone there for the great job they are
doing. It is always appreciate. Service like that is a team effort. Good work, Jacksonville.

CLIMATE DATA AVAILABLE ON-LINE. Climate data dating back to the late 1800s are now available on-line through the NCDC in Asheville. These data were previously available only via telephone or written request. The new Climatic Data On-line system provides full period-of-record digital data for: U.S. daily surface data, U.S. monthly surface data, U.S. hourly precipitation data, U.S. 15-minute precipitation data, and global monthly surface data. Other data will be added to the system this year and next, including hourly surface data. The user can select data by region, country, state, climate division, county, and station, and by time period, such as year, month, or day. Data are currently provided at no charge to educational institutions, with charges by credit card for others. Charges are significantly reduced compared with off-line orders. The Web address is:

http://www5.ncdc.noaa.gov:7777/plclimprod/plsql/poemain.poe

GOES-8/10 ECLIPSE SEASON HAS BEGUN. Beginning August 15 and extending through October 30, GOES spacecraft imaging and sounding operations will be interrupted at and around spacecraft midnight for instrument sun avoidance and eclipse operations. During GOES satellite outages, the other satellite will provide full disk imaging to provide continuing operational support. During the GOES eclipse season the frequency of GOES single chord operations, made necessary by lunar and solar intrusions at the edge of the Earth disk, also increases. Links to the GOES eclipse and single chord data outage schedules are available on the SSD Satellite Information Web page:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/ssd/html/satinfo.htm

NOAA NIC SERVER TO BE SHUT DOWN. The NOAA National Information Center (NIC) ftp server, a source of model output, will be shut down permanently at the end of this month. Most of the data and model output files are now available on the NCEP ftp server (ftp.ncep.noaa.gov) or on the NWS Gateway File Server - for more information, see:

http://www.nws.noaa.gov/oso/ftpgate.shtml.

CAFTI MEETING SUMMARY. At its August 18 meeting the Committee on Applied Forecasting Techniques and Implementation (CAFTI) recommended that the current operational East Coast and Gulf of Mexico (ECGM) regional wave model be replaced by the Western North Atlantic (WNA) regional wave model. The WNA is based on the NOAA Wavewatch III global wave model which was implemented internally in November 1998. The grid domain of the WNA is larger than the ECGM to accommodate the needs of the National Hurricane Center. The Marine Prediction Center has been using the WNA model output and are extremely pleased with the product. Training will be provided before the model becomes operational. A draft Technical Procedures Bulletin is available at: http://polar.wwb.noaa.gov/omb/tpbs/wnatpb/wnatpb.html

The Techniques Development Laboratory (TDL) reported on the transition from NGM MOS to a new set of MOS equations based on the AVN model. TDL has been gratified by the preliminary results of the AVN MOS. While there are some regional differences in the verification statistics, the aggregate results for the CONUS and Alaska show the AVN MOS outperforms the NGM MOS. Much of the improvement is due to the superior performance of the AVN over the NGM. TDL expects to have a full package of AVN-based MOS equations completed by April 2000, but believe snowfall will be the most difficult parameter to predict. CAFTI reaffirmed the plan to run the NGM MOS and AVN MOS in parallel for at least one year. Preliminary verification results are available at: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/tdl/synop/index.htm. Select "Test Results" at the bottom of the page for verification results plus their explanation.

SYSTEMS OPERATIONS DIVISION

SYSTEMS INTEGRATION BRANCH

WORDPERFECT OFFICE 2000. A NOAA wide license for Corel's WordPerfect Office 2000 has been purchased and additional information on what the license covers and how to obtain the media will be provided to each office. As a quick summary, the media CD is only $12 and is available from GTSI at 1-800-999-4874. The license covers the basic WordPerfect Office 2000 Standard version and includes backward licensing for earlier versions. In addition NOAA has obtained a very aggressive upgrade price for the Professional Suite for those needing the extra features.

In tests at Southern Region Headquarters, it was demonstrated WordPerfect 9, which is what is included in the Office 2000 Suite, is able to create documents which are compatible with WordPerfect 8 as well as the cc:Mail viewers. When installed, it is placed in a new folder called WordPerfect Office 2000 and therefore is separate from earlier installations of WordPerfect which can be uninstalled to save room on the hard drive. Service Pack 1 is already available for WordPerfect 9 and is accessible on the SRH Web/FTP server.

FTS2001 TRANSITION NEWS. All recent federal calling card orders are being processed through MCI Worldcom (the new FTS2001 vendor). FEDCARDs for people at field offices who have recently had their names submitted to receive calling cards will be receiving the MCI Worldcom federal calling cards soon. Actions are also in progress to begin conversion of existing FTS2000 FEDCARDS and Virtual-on-Net service to MCI Worldcom (MCIW) in a phased changeover. Stay tuned for more information on the FTS2001 transition as the plan unfolds.

In order to facilitate this conversion, all offices must complete their communications services inventory as soon as possible. The information needed and format will be distributed to your offices on or before September 1

OBSERVATIONS AND FACILITIES BRANCH

FACILITIES COMPUTERIZED MAINTENANCE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM. The purchase and configuration of a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) in Southern Region is proceeding nicely. The hardware is under contract and the orders for both the CMMS software and Oracle database software are being finalized. Once the implementation methodology has been established, representatives from other regions and NWS Headquarters will be invited to SRH to participate in the initial program assessment. Deployment of the system is expected to take place by the second quarter.

DRINKING WATER TESTING COMPLETED FOR NWS OFFICES. Drinking water quality testing has been completed at selected NWS offices. Testing was directed for specific Eastern, Western and Southern Region offices in response to a grievance filed by NWSEO concerning the purchase of bottled water for these offices. Tests for coliform bacteria, copper, lead and iron were performed by analytical laboratories on samples taken from lavatories, water coolers and icemakers. A test for total trihalomethanes, byproducts of chlorination, were also performed for each site. Test results have been forwarded to NWS Headquarters for review. Corrective measures were initiated by SRH Systems Operations Division on the significant findings of these tests results.

ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGEMENT DIVISION

DIVERSITY/EEO AND COMMUNITY OUTREACH ACTIVITIES

DIVERSITY. An NWS Web page for Managing Workforce Diversity is on-line at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/tdl/scan/nwsdiversity.htm. The page is a resource for all NWS employees, and it will be updated frequently with new information on NWS diversity activities. The NWS Diversity Coordinator is Steve Smith at NWS Headquarters. Feel free to contact him about the contents of this page or on any diversity-related issues. Steve can be reached at (301) 713-1774 x180 or Stephan.Smith@noaa.gov.

FEW CONFERENCE.Albertha Mosley, HMT at NWSFO Miami and newly appointed Federal Women's Employment program manager, attended the Federally Employed Women's (FEW) National Training Program (NTP) in Phoenix, Arizona, July 19-23. This training is held in conjunction with the annual Board of Directors meeting of FEW. The theme this year was "Treasure in the Desert." NTP offered training in management and leadership skills, communication skills, technology and technical skills, career enhancement, personal effectiveness, personnel policies and procedures, and EEO workshops. The program also offered topics directly related to FEW, women's issues and FEW's legislative goals. The keynote speakers were Virginia Dunstone, President of Life Enhancement Institute, and Anita Hill, Esq., Attorney at Law.

AISES.Billy Beams, HMT NWSO Amarillo, attended the American Indian Science and Engineering Society's (AISES) Government Relations Board meeting in July in Albuquerque. The purpose of the meeting was to update the board on the recent decisions undertaken by AISES and to formally introduce the new Executive Director, Ms. Sandra Begay Campbell. Other topics included reports on strategic initiatives, overview of finances, and five year development goals.

CONGRATULATIONS, AMANDA!Amanda Graham is a summer aide working at NWSFO Lubbock. She has started her first year of college this fall. Amanda is very interested in meteorology and began working at the NWSFO several years ago as a student volunteer, driving an 80 mile round trip from Plainview to do so. Recently, she submitted to the Amarillo Colony Regents a 1000+ word essay on the Mayflower Compact and its impact on America today. The competition was open to all high school seniors in the Texas Panhandle. Her essay placed first, winning for Amanda a $1000 scholarship, and she was selected to compete at the state level.

Amanda should certainly know her subject; she is a direct descendent of the first baby born on the Mayflower. Congratulations, Amanda, and good luck this fall.

NWSO MIDLAND.The Midland staff has been working with a student volunteer, Ryan Brashear, for the past several months. Ryan currently attends Midland College and plans to transfer to the University of Oklahoma with a major in meteorology after the completion of this next school year.

MIC Ray Fagen was the instructor for four classes of Boy Scouts working to fulfill their requirements for the Boy Scout weather merit badge. This was part of Merit Badge Midway, an annual Boy Scout event which puts together a week long, campus-type gathering involving various subject matter experts from throughout the community to work with the scouts on their merit badge requirements.

SOUTHERN REGION WORKFORCE TRANSACTIONS

AUGUST 1 - 31, 1999

Southern Region Losses
Name From (Office) Action/Transfer From Title/Grade
Christopher Mello NWSO TBW Reas to WR Met Intern, GS-7
Mark Deutschendorf NWSO SJT Reas to WR Forecaster, GS-12
Julie Jones RFC SIL Reas to ER Senior Hydrologist, GS-13
Richard Naden NWSO MAF Prom to SPC Forecaster, GS-9
John Goff NWSO CRP New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Loren Marz NWSO BRO Reas to CR Forecaster, GS-12
Warren Hadley WSO FSM Retirement Met Tech, GS-11
John Carballa NWSO BRO Retirement HMT, GS-11
Matthew Burkett NWSO MAF Resignation Met Intern, GS-7

Southern Region Gains
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
Harry Petaisto NWSFO MFL Prom from WR Forecaster, GS-13
W. Edward Bracken NWSO EYW Reas from AOML Forecaster, GS-9
Deborah Connell NWSFO FFC New Hire ASA, GS-7
Roger Hess NWSFO BMX Reas from CR El Tech, GS-10
Scott Cordero NWSO BRO Prom from WR Lead Forecaster, GS-13
Joseph Camp NWSO MOB New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Eric Martello NWSFO JAN Prom from WR Lead Forecaster, GS-13`
William McIntosh NWSFO TSA New Hire El Tech, GS-10
Cody Lindsey NWSO SHV New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Stephen Carboni NWSO SHV New Hire Met Intern, GS-7
Edward McNeely NWSFO JAN Reas from CR El Tech, GS-11
Within Region Transfers/Actions
Name To (Office) Action/Transfer To Title/Grade
John Wolters NWSO AMA Reas from TAE Met Intern, GS-7
Steven Drillette NWSO AMA Reas from MAF WCM, GS-13
Jonathan Atwell RFC ATR Prom from ATR Senior Hydrologist, GS-13
Ethan Jolly RFC SIL Prom from SIL Senior Hydrologist, GS-13

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