|NOAA's NWS Focus
| May 12, 2003
Green Bay, WI, WGBA-TV
meteorologist Cameron Moreland of the local
NBC affiliate did his weather show live from
the Green Bay Weather Forecast Office recently
during a 6 p.m. newscast. Senior Forecaster
Tim Kieckbusch is in the background of this
photo. Forecast and warning operations were
highlighted during the show by Moreland
Coordination Meteorologist Jeff Last.
Together to Save Lives:
Early May Delivers Nation's Busiest Tornado Outbreak in
The week of May 4-10, 2003, brought widespread tornado outbreaks affecting 19 states. The President declared four states
as disaster areas (Missouri, Kansas, Tennessee, and Oklahoma).
About 395 tornadoes occurred during this period, according to Storm Prediction Center preliminary statistics on the center's
web page. The week's total exceeds the previous most active week of May 12-18, 1995, when there were 173 tornadoes.
More than 40 people were killed May 4 in Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. There were few fatalities in subsequent events,
and warning lead times appear to be good for all of the past week's significant events.
On May 9, 2003, NWS Deputy Director John Jones, assisted by Bill Bunting, Meteorologist-In-Charge, Fort Worth, TX,
Weather Forecast Office and Dan McCarthy, Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NWS Storm Prediction Center, briefed
the U.S. House of Representatives Science Committee on the week's tornado outbreak.
In his remarks to members of Congress, Jones emphasized that NWS employees on the front lines in forecast offices were
"working non-stop through the week's dangerous weather events." He also pointed out that "the infusion of new science
and technology along with a cadre of experienced forecasters in the field" helped the NWS issue warnings that may have
saved many lives over the past week. Jones added that NOAA partnerships with the research community, federal, state, and
local governments, and with the broadcast media, made it possible for timely NWS warnings to give people time to take
During the week, Weather Forecast Offices issued 4,867 warnings: 1,090 for tornadoes and 683 for flash floods. The 908
warnings issued on May 6, 2003, were the most issued in one day (records back to 1986). The 893 warnings issued on May
10 and 858 warnings issued on May 5 were the third and fourth most active days.
The NWS deployed seven national Quick Response Teams (QRTs) of wind damage experts to investigate damage that
appeared to be greater than F3. Five of the week's tornadoes are confirmed as F4s, and two others are under investigation.
(One of the recommendations of the April 28, 2002, La Plata, MD, Tornado Service Assessment was to develop a national
QRT to determine final ratings for all tornadoes suspected to be F4 or F5.)
A service assessment team begins reviewing NWS performance during the extended
outbreak of severe weather this week. Leading the team is Jim Purpura, the
Meteorologist-In-Charge of the Corpus Christi, TX, Weather Forecast Office.
will complete its report in about 90 days.
Here are some highlights for the week, compiled by the Awareness Branch of the NWS Office of Climate, Water, and
- Sunday afternoon and night tornadoes did significant damage in at least 7 Kansas and 39 Missouri counties. Pierce City,
MO, was demolished. Another tornado on the ground for 65 miles in western Tennessee hit Jackson (Madison County).
Lead time for Madison County was 13 minutes. Flooding was reported in Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.
- On Tuesday, tornadoes did extensive damage in De Soto (Jefferson County), MO, and in portions of southern Illinois
and western Kentucky. More flooding in Tennessee and northern portions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.
Significant flooding reported in Huntsville, AL.
- On Wednesday, supercells moved across northern Mississippi to western Georgia. Flooding occurred around
Birmingham and wind damage was reported in the Atlanta area.
- On Thursday, more than 100 were injured and 300 homes were destroyed in Moore (Cleveland County), OK (tornado
lead time 21 minutes). Additional tornadoes occurred in northern and eastern Kansas with Lawrence especially hard hit.
Seventeen tornado warnings were issued in this area with a average lead time of 25 minutes.
- Multiple tornadoes occurred over several hours Friday night in Oklahoma.
In the Oklahoma City area a tornado damaged a Xerox plant and a several schools.Five injuries were reported. Preliminary average lead times for the tornado warnings were
- On Saturday, flooding occurred in the Cincinnati, OH, area (southern Hamilton County, OH, and northern Kenton
County, KY). Approximately 100 people were evacuated.
Sought on New NWS Strategic Plan
A draft National
Weather Service Strategic Plan for FiscalYears 2003 through
2008 is ready for comment. The theme of this plan, "Working
Together to Save Lives," reflects NWS's commitment to work
closely with our external partners and internal Line
Offices to help support NOAA's strategic goals.
"We are making the Plan available for NWS employee comments
now - a public comment period on the NWS plan, along with
the plans of all of our sister line offices in NOAA, will
follow soon," said Ed Johnson, Director, NWS Strategic Planning
and Policy Office.
Johnson said the NWS Strategic Plan was written to conform
to the substance and structure of NOAA's recently completed
Strategic Plan, "New Priorities for the 21st
Century." A copy of the NOAA plan can be found at http://www.osp.noaa.gov/docs/NOAA_Final_Strategic_Plan_March31st.pdf.
All NOAA Line and Staff offices were asked to present
a plan which directly identifies how they will support and
carry out NOAA's strategic goals and objectives. The NWS
plan lists specific NWS activities supporting NOAA's goals,
and also lists critical partners who help us carry out these
"In writing the NWS plan, we considered all of the NWS
input provided into the NOAA strategic planning process
and all of the input that stakeholders provided at NOAA-sponsored
meetings," Johnson explained. "Even so, now is the critical
time when our draft is being made available both internally
and externally for further comment."
You can view the new NWS Strategic Plan at www.weather.gov/sp/newNWSplan.htm
. Send comments to email@example.com
by June 6, 2003.
Announce Plans for Air Quality Forecasts
NOAA and the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) announced a partnership recently to
develop a new forecasting model to establish a consistent
national, numerical system of forecasting ozone and particular
The tool will provide an Air Quality Index in daily weather
forecasts, and will report a more accurate warning of the
days in which outdoor activities could prove to be a health
In the first phase of the collaboration, EPA and NOAA
will produce a model that provides daily forecasts for ozone
in the northeastern United States by September 2004. Within
five years, following initial deployment and evaluation,
the enhanced forecasting system will expand to the whole
Nation. The air quality forecasting model should help forecasters
make particulate matter predictions and provide a four-day
forecast within 10 years.
Read the full NOAA-EPA news release here.
of Emergency Managers Yields High Marks
The NWS is doing
a good job of meeting the needs of the emergency management
community, according to a recently completed customer satisfaction
A survey conducted with Emergency Managers yielded an
NWS score of 80 (out of 100) for customer satisfaction.
That score is
ten points higher than the 2002 American Customer Satisfaction
Index (ASCI) for the overall Federal Government. This
survey, conducted by The Claes Fornell International (CFI)
Group, collected 479 interviews from January 29 - February
"The NWS Emergency Management segment is performing very
well," said Stephan Kuhl, the NWS National Warning Coordination
Meteorologist (WCM) Program Manager. "This benchmark provides
us with a snapshot of how we are doing and areas where we
can improve. It's important to measure customer satisfaction
and find ways to deliver the best products possible."
The NWS identified eight activities (called satisfaction
drivers) for this survey. These are areas where the NWS
regularly interfaces with Emergency Managers. The satisfaction
drivers were: product delivery, local information, hazardous
weather, public weather information, winter weather information,
hydrologic information, fire weather information, and marine/tropical
information. Each of these areas was measured by a series
of questions or attributes that were specific to that particular
area of service.
The categories of hazardous weather information and winter
weather information both received a score of 82. However,
scores for product delivery (72) and local information (75)
were slightly lower than the other categories.
To improve the overall NWS customer satisfaction index
score, CFI suggested that the NOAA's NWS Focus on improving local
information weather products and services, particularly
finding ways to improve perceptions of NWS zone and state
weather forecasts' usefulness with Emergency Managers.
CFI recommended soliciting suggestions from Emergency
for ways to make the NWS area forecast discussions more
useful in supporting their operations and decision-making.
Three other NWS segments are scheduled to be surveyed
using agency-specific activities and outcomes: aviation,
marine/tropical, and media.
ACSI uses a multi-equation, cause and effect econometric
model to measure customer satisfaction. NWS's Customer
Satisfaction Index score of 80 was derived from three questions
in the survey:
1) How satisfied are you overall with the products and
services provided by the NWS? 2) To what extent have the
products and services provided by the NWS fallen short of
or exceeded your expectations? 3) How well does the NWS
compare with an ideal provider of weather products and services?
Scores for the most recent ACSI results, as well as bench
marking information and other useful resources are available
at www.customerservice.gov and www.theacsi.org.
Improved English and New Spanish Voices for NOAA Weather
Three NWS Weather
Forecast Offices (WFOs) are testing new NOAA Weather Radio
(NWR) Console Replacement/Voice Improvement Processor software
which introduces a Spanish voice and improves upon existing
voices. The test is scheduled to conclude on May 23, 2003,
and nationwide roll-out could occur during mid-summer if the
new technology receives positive reviews, according to Lawrence
Lehmann, Voice Improvement Project Manager.
The three WFO test sites are: Miami, FL; San Diego, CA;
and San Juan, PR. Major changes to the new software include:
adding a Spanish voice (Javier) for audio conversion of
incoming Spanish text messages into voice files for NWR
broadcast; a new male English voice (Tom replaces Craig),
and an improved Female English voice (Donna); a new speech
engine that improves the voice quality of all voices; the
ability to customize word pronunciations by voice; and,
the ability to adjust the speed of word pronunciation by
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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