| NOAA's NWS Focus
March 31, 2003
Responses to Employee Comments for NOAA Program Review
The NWS was
asked to respond to 45 employee comments made to Undersecretary
of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator,
retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D.,
when he initiated a NOAA-Wide
Read the NWS
responses here. You can also find the document of comments
and responses on the NWS
Employee Best Practices web site.
Each NWS response describes the current status and, where
appropriate, actions taken or planned in response to the
Available for Wind Damage Assessments
A new guide for
conducting wind damage assessments is available to help NWS
staff assess damage from a violent tornado.
"A Guide to F-Scale Damage Assessment," was developed
by the NWS Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services
based on a recommendation from the service assessment of
the April 28, 2002, LaPlata, MD, tornado outbreak.
The service assessment team suggested the need for a standard
reference since Weather Forecast Office (WFO) staff only
receive training on assessing wind damage one time, and
because violent F4 and F5 tornadoes are extremely rare,
people have very few first-hand opportunities to view storm
damage of this magnitude.
The new 101-page, full-color guide has been posted
in PDF format on the Warning Coordination Meteorologist
(WCM) Resource Center web site to give WCMs and other NWS
staff immediate access to the information before the printed
version becomes available later in the spring.
"I am very excited about this new guide, which was prepared
to help train and assist our field WCMs in performing more
accurate and reliable F-scale ratings and post-storm damage
surveys," said Stephan Kuhl, National WCM Program Manager
who coordinated NWS Headquarters efforts in developing the
guide. "NWS personnel who assess post-storm damage to determine
final wind storm intensity will find this guide extremely
The guide was developed through close collaboration between
the NWS, private sector meteorologists, wind engineers,
and the academic community.
Kuhl said 500 copies of the guide are being
printed and should be sent to Regional Headquarters
by early May. Each region will then forward copies to
Study Identifies Digital Forecast Database as Key Piece
in Future Partnerships
By Wendy Levine
NWS Strategic Planning and Policy Office
"The National Digital Forecast Database [NDFD] is a major
undertaking with major benefits."
This statement was made by John Armstrong, Chair of the
National Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Partnerships
in Weather and Climate Services, at the February 2003 annual meeting of the American
Meteorological Society in Long Beach, CA. Armstrong briefed
of a NOAA-commissioned study performed by the NRC to
examine the public-private-academic partnership for providing
weather and climate services in the United States.
The report concludes that the partnership is "basically sound, functioning well, and serving the needs of the Nation," and
recognizes the key role that NDFD will play in future provision of NWS products and services, as well as the advantages
NDFD will bring to our private sector partners.
One of the NRC's basic recommendations is for the NWS to continue activities essential to its mission, including
unrestricted access to publicly-funded forecasts and related information products in a timely manner and at the lowest
possible cost to users. The NDFD will improve the NWS's ability to provide forecasts in convenient forms, including
digital, tabular, image, graphics, and other types of visual displays.
The NRC also recommends that NWS make its data and products available in Internet-accessible digital form. For the first
time, human-generated meteorological forecasts will be available via the Internet in the NDFD:
- NDFD is Internet-accessible;
- the data are in a widely-recognized standard; and
- the data can be used by all interested parties in the weather and climate enterprise.
"The NDFD will allow the private meteorological sector to flourish," said Bob Glahn, NWS's Interactive Forecast
Preparation (IFPS) Program Manager. "The database will provide 'raw material' for a substantial increase in the number
and types of products and services that can be produced and marketed to those who require specialized services." The NRC
report asserts that by providing access to digital data not currently available in standard products, the NDFD will improve
the ability of all the sectors to produce high-quality weather services, particularly as temporal and spatial resolution
The IFPS and NDFD present enormous opportunities, but they also present a
unique challenge. According to the NRC, the NWS headquarters and regional managers
should learn to balance respect for local innovation and creativity with greater
control over activities that affect the public-private partnership. Such an
might be the implementation of a new product or service. The
existence of IFPS and a digital forecast database fosters local creativity for
developing new products and services - this is a wonderful asset, but one
which must be carefully managed.
10-102 is a start to managing this process.
One of the objectives of the NRC study is to assess the impact of scientific and technological advances on the public-private-academic partnership. According to the NRC study, the NDFD is improving access to data and forecasts in digital
form and in databases, offering much flexibility in how these data are used. Through the database, users will be able to:
download only the information they need; combine different data; and manipulate the data to form new data and products.
"In the future, the NDFD may include observations and analyses, as well as forecasts from local offices and NCEP," predicts
Glahn. The study report concludes that these improvements will greatly increase the number of opportunities for the private
sector to provide value-added products and create new services.
The use of IFPS in operations and our ability to produce a quality NDFD for our users, will help NWS to play an important
role in the critical partnerships supporting the U.S. weather and climate enterprise. IFPS and NDFD are fostering
improvements both in NWS products and services, as well as advancing the opportunities for our partners. The net effect is
sure to be seen as positive to our broad spectrum of users.
President Adds Locality Pay
To 2003 Federal Raise
signed an Executive order on March 21, 2003, to implement
retroactive locality pay increases costing approximately
1 percent of payroll. Pay will be retroactively adjusted
from the pay period which began January 12, 2003. The Office
of Personnel Management has posted new 2003 pay
tables to reflect the increase.
Together to Save Lives:
Advanced Weather Spotter Training Session Draws Hundreds
More than 300
people attended the March 15, 2003, Indiana-Michigan-Ohio
Skywarn Association's Advanced
Weather Spotter Training Session in Elkhart, IN. Thanks to
efforts of the Association
the Northern Indiana Weather Forecast Office (WFO), participants
learned more about severe weather and how their reports
NWS's warning decision
Meteorologist Sam Lashley spoke about the warning process
and how timely and accurate Skywarn reports lead to more
timely and accurate severe weather warnings. Video of a
simulated severe weather event provided a unique perspective
on the interaction between the storm spotter and the NWS,
including the need for timely and accurate spotter reports.
Other featured speakers in the day-long session included
Charles A. Doswell, Senior Research Scientist Cooperative
Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies;
David Arnold, Associate Professor Ball State University;
and Chris Novy, an amateur radio operator and seasoned
chaser. Severe weather awareness and safety were recurring
themes during the presentations.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steve Eddy and Senior
Meteorologist Patrick Murphy assisted the Skywarn group
in planning the event.
"This event helped educate people about the valuable contributions
Skywarn spotters make to the NWS and we were able to show
our appreciation for their dedication," Murphy said. "The
Veterans Day weekend tornado outbreak is a prime example
we cite to emphasize how timely reports by Skywarn spotters
help us focus our warning decision-making process."
Murphy said the NWS educated the experienced spotters
on the aspects of NWS severe weather operations and the
contributions of volunteer Skywarn observers. An NWS exhibit
showcased NOAA Weather Radio, spotter and safety
brochures, and a simulated tornado in a box. A dramatic
slide show featuring tornado footage and damage photos
Day weekend tornado outbreak drew many to the NWS booth.
Security Establishes Secure Emergency Web Site for
A new NOAA Homeland
Security site is now online at https://www.emergency.noaa.gov for
NOAA employees only. Employees need their NOAA user name
and e-mail password to visit the site for emergency direction,
preparedness guides, up-to-date advisories regarding risk
and the operating status of the federal government. The site
also provides important links to the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.
a look at other NWS news, as submitted for the NOAA
here to take a look at NOAA-wide employee news, as posted
in the latest issue of AccessNOAA
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