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NOAA's NWS Focus
February 4 , 2003
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CONTENTS formating spacer graphic
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- Weather and Climate Partnership Report Published by National Research Council Committee formating spacer graphic
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- Seven Months and Counting: Interactive Forecast Preparation System Taking Root at Forecast Offices formating spacer graphic
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- NWS Dedicates New Weather Forecast Office and New Radar formating spacer graphic
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- NWS Welcomes New International Activities Director formating spacer graphic
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- University Assignment Program Opportunities Available formating spacer graphic
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- Employee Milestones formating spacer graphic
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Kansas National Guard Military Technician Mark Reasoner presents a certificate of appreciation to MIC Scott Mentzer of NWS, KS.

Kansas National Guard Military Technician Mark Reasoner (right) presents a certificate of appreciation to Meteorologist-In-Charge Scott Mentzer of the NWS Goodland, KS, Weather Forecast Office. The certificate from the National Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve recognizes the WFO for being a supportive employer, enabling NWS employees to participate in the Guard and Reserve.


Take a look at other NWS news, as submitted for the NOAA Weekly Report

Click here to take a look at NOAA-wide employee news, as posted in the latest issue of AccessNOAA

Weather and Climate Partnership Report Published by National Research Council Committee

A year-long study on the public-academic-private partnership for providing U.S. weather and climate services supports the National Weather Service mission and concludes that the partnership is basically sound, functioning well, and serving the needs of the Nation.

"Cooperation, rather than conflict, appears to be the normal mode of operation," the study authored by a National Research Council committee noted. "Despite occasional friction, the three-sector system works," wrote committee chair John A. Armstrong in a letter about the report to Jack Kelly. Armstrong added, "The committee judges this friction to be an acceptable price to pay for excellent weather services" but also recommends that partners work harder to lessen the friction. The study recommends that the NWS be more open in decision-making, and seek more input from all interested partners and the public.

"The study is a must read for everyone who is serious about making the Nation's weather and climate enterprise a success," said Ed Johnson, Director, Strategic Planning and Policy Office.

"At times, our employees are uncertain about what they can and can't do within the public-private partnership. Some have worried that the weather service mission would be changed to exclude basic forecasting," said Johnson. "This study confirms our mission and shifts our focus to working better with all of our partners."

Each NWS office and center will receive a publication copy of the 150-page report when it is available in about two months. A pre-publication copy of the report is available online at

Following are some report highlights:

  • The committee rejected defining rigid roles for each sector as counterproductive;
  • The NWS should replace its 1991 public-private partnership policy of defined roles with a policy that defines processes for making decision on products, technologies, and services;
  • NWS should seek advice from users and representatives of the public, academic, and private sectors on weather and climate matters;
  • NWS headquarters and regional managers should develop an approach to managing the local forecast offices that balances a respect for local innovation and creativity with greater control over the activities that affect the public-private partnership, especially those that concern the development and dissemination of new products or services.

The study, "Fair Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services," published January 30, 2003, was prepared by a panel of respected experts from inside and outside the meteorological community and chaired by Armstrong, former Senior Vice-President for Science and Technology at IBM.

Below are links to some news coverage of the report's release:

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Editors' Note: The NWS is counting down towards national implementation of the Interactive Forecast Preparation System (IFPS). Bob Glahn, IFPS Program Manager, provides the current status of the effort to change the way NWS forecasts are produced. Glahn's article begins a series of NOAA's NWS Focus stories covering topics relating to IFPS and the National Digital Forecast Database.

Seven Months and Counting:
Interactive Forecast Preparation System Taking Root at Forecast Offices

By Bob Glahn
IFPS Program Manager

IFPS is on track! We set September 30, 2003 for our Initial Operating Capability (IOC) for the continental United States (CONUS) about a year and a half ago. Although there is much work to do, I see nothing to keep us from making that goal. We will follow with the Alaska and Pacific Regions three months later.

The National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) concept was born later than IFPS--a little over two years ago. Making a quality mosaic from the input of many WFOs is a challenge, but we are making excellent progress. We are committed to providing temperature and probability of precipitation (PoP) grids out to 72 hours by IFPS IOC; actually, we should be able to do more.

The definition of IFPS IOC is simple--all WFOs will produce the grids necessary to automatically compose ten basic NWS text products and will produce those products with software (formatters):

  • Zone Forecast product (ZFP)
  • Coded Cities Forecast (CCF)
  • Tabular & Narrative Fire Weather Forecasts (FWF)
  • National Fire Danger Rating System Forecast (FWM)
  • Coastal Waters Forecast (CWF)
  • Great Lakes Open Lakes Forecast (GLF)
  • Nearshore Forecast (NSH)
  • Marine Verification Forecast (MFV)
  • Service Area Forecast (SAF)
  • Tabular State Forecast (TSFP)

We also will make the local grids available to customers and partners. Of course, many things must happen to accomplish this: staff must be trained, forecast offices must make shift changes to support the new operations concept, and forecasters must embrace the paradigm shift to this new method of forecast preparation.

A critical element of IFPS success is to have software that will compose information from the local database (grids) into text products. To do this, WFO staff can use the AWIPS baseline formatters developed by the Meteorological Development Laboratory (MDL), or they can use locally-developed formatters based on templates developed by the Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL). For instance, a WFO can use the baseline formatter for the zone product and a locally-developed formatter for the fire weather product, or vice versa.

There were some challenges in making thousands of local grids available. We decided the most expeditious route, and one leading toward producing national mosaics, was to send the local grids to the NDFD server and disseminate them from there. So it became imperative that the WFOs send their grids to the server for IFPS IOC. Software was put in place to do that.

Most WFOs are using IFPS but with varying degrees of training and experience. In order to work out details of implementation, three prototype areas consisting of 17 WFOs worked together with NCEP, and their grids were produced and sent to the NDFD server; the concepts they developed live on and are spreading across the Nation. Currently, all WFOs are sending grids to the NDFD server.

These grids are being pieced together into seamless mosaics which are available for viewing by the forecasters on AWIPS. Recently, some of these same mosaics were made available for experimental use and feedback from customers and partners. These are the local grids at 5-km resolution, just put onto a national map. In addition to the CONUS grids, there are 16 slightly overlapping "tiles" that contain the same information for those not wanting, or able to handle, the large grids.

Early on we recognized that producing a "seamless" mosaic would require new operational procedures be put in place. The NWS is using a three-step approach to solving possible boundary discontinuities.

First, NCEP's Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) has adjusted operations to collaborate with the WFOs for a national mosaic. HPC and the WFOs assess the overall weather situation for the Nation and HPC distributes guidance to the WFOs to use in adjusting their grids. This collaboration is crucial to the process, and HPC has stepped up to the challenge. In the words of Lynn Maximuk, Meteorologist-In-Charge (MIC) at Pleasant Hill, MO, one of the prototype sites, "Having HPC as an active participant early in the forecast collaboration process has opened new doors to forecasters. The result has been better, more consistent forecasts across time and space."

Next, the WFOs collaborate among themselves concerning the specific forecasts along their borders. Offices exchange grids and use collaboration tools such as chat software to assist the process. Collaboration between WFOs also is a critical step in the forecast preparation process, and the WFO forecasters are rising to the challenge.

For the third step, when the grids are received at the server, software compares the boundary values, and the results are provided in numeric and graphical form to the WFOs. This gives the WFOs a chance to amend their grids before posting to the official NDFD.

In order to make sure we are ready, a month-long Operational Readiness Demonstration (ORD) is scheduled to start June 16, 2003, for the CONUS, and one for Alaska and the Pacific three months later. An Integrated Work Team (IWT) is working out the details and procedures for the ORD for all regions. The team will also oversee the ORD, report on findings, and insure any deficiencies are corrected before the IOC dates. The ORD will be an official test to make sure we are ready for the IFPS initial operating capability. During this test, all WFOs will demonstrate IOC readiness in all respects. Actually, we hope to be up and running a month or so before the ORD.

To meet legal requirements, the NWS must archive official products. We are working out the details of this record retention process. It requires the transfer and storage of large volumes of data, and new procedures have to be worked out concerning WMO headers and for switching in the Telecommunications Gateway.

All NWS components recognize the tremendous benefits to the NWS and have responded admirably. The NWS Training Center staff and the training staff in the Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services recognize the importance of training for this transition and have allocated staff accordingly. HPC has shifted resources and forecast methodologies to lead the large-scale collaborative process. FSL has improved the graphical editing capability to insure IOC success. The Office of Science and Technology's MDL and Systems Engineering Center put together a process to get software releases to the field much more often than was possible before. The AWIPS Network Control Facility has provided, with MDL, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week support to the process, and Northrop Grumman Information Technology has superbly dealt with the more rapid release schedule. Finally and most importantly, WFO forecasters led by their MICs and regional headquarters are adjusting and accommodating to difficult paradigm shifts and schedules to keep the NWS relevant in its role of providing the best possible service to the Nation.

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NWS Dedicates New Weather Forecast Office and New Radar

The NWS marked two milestones last week with the dedication of a new Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Alabama and a new radar in Indiana.

Huntsville, AL, is the 122nd WFO. Located in the National Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) Annex at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), the new WFO now provides complete weather forecast and warning services for the citizens of Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Jackson, Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Marshall, DeKalb, and Cullman Counties. Transfer of the county warning areas from Birmingham to Huntsville took place January 14, 2003.

Representing the NWS at the January 30, 2003, dedication ceremony were NWS Deputy Director John Jones, NWS Southern Region Headquarters Director Bill Proenza, and Huntsville Meteorologist-In-Charge John Gordon. Also attending were U.S. Representatives Bud Cramer and Robert Aderholt, who represent communities within the Huntsville office's county warning area.

A new radar near Owensville, IN, was dedicated on January 31, 2003. Data from the new NWS Tri-State Doppler Radar near Owensville, IN, will be used by forecasters at five NWS offices in four states to provide the best possible forecasts and warnings to emergency managers and the public. The radar will provide low-level radar coverage to 70 counties: 30 in Illinois; 23 in Indiana; and 17 in Kentucky.

Indiana Congressman John Hostettler, NOAA Deputy Assistant Secretary Timothy Keeney, NWS Central Region Director Dennis McCarthy, Larry Ordner of Senator Richard Lugar's office, and Andy Cullen of Senator Evan Bayh's office attended the dedication, along with NWS Paducah, KY, Weather Forecast Office (WFO) Meteorologist-In-Charge Beverly Poole.

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NWS Welcomes New International Activities Director

Robert (Rob) Masters assumed the position of Director of NWS's International Activities Office on December 16, 2002. For the last 10 years, Masters was Chief of the Satellite Activities Branch of the International and Interagency Affairs Office at NESDIS.

"Rob is a great asset to NOAA and we are glad to have him leading our International Activities Office," said John Jones, NWS Deputy Director. "He's widely known for his diplomacy, negotiation skills, and knowledge of international affairs."

During a 20-year tenure with NOAA, Masters has negotiated agreements with satellite operators and instrument providers, and received three bronze and two silver Department of Commerce medals. He's served as Desk Officer for several countries such as Australia, France, Africa, and the United Kingdom. As a Desk Officer, he provided guidance to senior NOAA officials on topics relevant to those areas including regional and national organizations, noteworthy news and issues, and staffing issues. He worked with the World Meteorological Organization to promote international partnerships that furthered NOAA's mission world-wide.

Masters started with NOAA in 1982 as a Presidential Management Intern. He holds degrees in public policy, international affairs, management, and french law. Masters, who is married with seven children, lives in Silver Spring, MD.

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University Assignment Program Opportunities Available

Full-time and part-time training assignments at accredited educational facilities are available through the 2003 University Assignment Program (UAP), the Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services Training Division announced recently. Employees selected for university training assignments remain in their positions of record while in training status.

"Employees who get involved with the University Assignment Program can keep abreast of advances in science and technology and other innovations within their occupational fields," said Greg Mandt, OCWWS Director. The program also enables employees to learn new skills or develop and improve abilities needed in current or future positions.

Scientific and technological advances require NWS employees (meteorologists, hydrologists, computer specialists, and other professionals) to keep in step with current knowledge in mesoscale meteorology, marine weather, oceanography, hydrology, advanced numerical prediction, information technology, and other job-related disciplines. Applicants may also look to broaden their communication, interpersonal, leadership, and managerial skills through the program.

The application deadline is February 21, 2003, and all Region Headquarters, Centers, and NWSH Offices have the forms needed to apply for the program. To apply for this program or for more information, contact your supervisor and normal chain-of-command in your Region or Office. NWS Headquarters contact is

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Employee Milestones

  • Click here to see NEW APPOINTMENTS/TRANSFERS to NWS through January 31, 2003.
  • Click here to see RETIREMENTS/DEPARTURES from NWS through January 31, 2003.

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