NOAA Home National Weather Service Home
Home News Organization Search
Communications Resources
NWS Focus
Focus Archived
Communications Office


NOAA's NWS Focus
July 7, 2004 View Printer Friendly Version
- Corporate Board Meeting Focuses on FY 2007-11
- Las Vegas Weather Forecast Office Launches Flash Flood Safety Campaign

- Long-Distance Collaboration Yields Outstanding New Facility

- Charleston Meteorologist Participates in 'Beat the Brainiacs' Competition

 - Cost Management Question of the Month
 - Employee Milestones
 - Also On the Web.NEXRAD Now

The Las Vegas, NV, Weather Forecast Office has enlisted Las Vegas resident and NASCAR Driver Kyle Busch to appear in an NWS public service announcement for the Turn Around, Don't DrownT campaign. Read the story below. Photo by Sam Sharpe, of The Sharpe Image.

Corporate Board Meeting Focuses on FY 2007-11

NWS Director Brig. Gen. D.L. Johnson, USAF (Ret.), opened last week's Corporate Board meeting with an anecdote he heard Department of Commerce Secretary Don Evans tell Capitol Hill staffers at an ocean-related event. "When Secretary Evans told his son about his new job in Washington, his son said, 'Great! My daddy's going to be a weather man.'"

"We connect to all of the NOAA goals and we must play to our strengths - our people are our strengths in WFOs, RFCs, National Centers, etc.," Johnson told the group of NWS executives. The purpose of this board meeting was to begin fleshing out agency requirements for Fiscal Years (FY) 2007-11. Topics on the three-day agenda included AWIPS, partnerships, building leaders, and NOAA Goal Teams. Following are some of the meeting highlights:

  • AWIPS. Jack Hayes, Director of the Office of Science and Technology, briefed on AWIPS problems encountered in the field this spring. As the NWS's mission-critical system for weather and water forecasts and warnings, Hayes advocated actions to address urgent mission needs in the near term and to improve management, engineering, and planning to ensure operational capabilities are available when and where needed in the future.
  • Partners in Prevention: Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH). Bill Proenza, Southern Region Director, introduced NWS partner Leslie Chapman-Henderson, President and CEO, FLASH Inc., to the board. Chapman-Henderson talked of the work this national non-profit organization conducts to help protect families and homes from natural and manmade disasters. The NWS currently partners with FLASH through its Turn Around Don't DrownT which originated in Southern Region (see related story). FLASH ( has outreach materials the NWS can request. She encouraged board members to find more ways to partner with her organization.
  • Providing World-Class Workforce Development. Greg Mandt, Director, Office of Climate, Weather, and Water Services briefed the board on a concept the training division is developing called the "NWS Staff College." "Our goal is to make sure that all employees can get the skills they need for whatever career path they follow in the NWS," he said. "Completing training requirements will not guarantee an employee career advancement, but will ensure we have a strong pool of candidates." NOAA may follow the NWS lead, if we do this right, said Johnson.
  • NOAA Goal Team Briefings. Representatives of the NOAA Goal Teams briefed the board on the direction of their goals including perceptions of NWS impacts and what the NWS can do to help further these goals. "We need to make the connection and work with these teams to assure that our priorities are their priorities," said Johnson. Follow these links to review the briefings:
    • Goal Team 1 - Ecosystems "Protect, restore, and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management"
    • Goal Team 2 - Climate "Understand climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond"
    • Goal Team 3 - Weather and Water "Serve society's needs for weather and water information"
    • Goal Team 4 - Commerce and Transportation "Support the Nation's commerce with information for safe, efficient, and environmentally sound transportation"

In his closing remarks Johnson said communication is key to our success. "Up, down, across, we have to keep talking with each other," he said. Johnson also tasked monthly video teleconferencing meetings so the board can work important issues before the quarterly face-to-face meetings. The next board meeting is in September.

Back to Top

Las Vegas Weather Forecast Office Launches Flash Flood Safety Campaign

The Las Vegas, NV, Weather Forecast Office (WFO) is tapping a NASCAR racing driver to help bring a comprehensive flash flood safety campaign to its county warning area by using the agency's national slogan, Turn Around, Don't DrownT (TADD). The TADD campaign is designed to enhance public awareness of the dangers of driving or walking into flooded areas.

As part of the TADD campaign, Lowe's-sponsored NASCAR driver Kyle Busch teamed with the NWS and Las Vegas' KVVU Fox5 News to shoot a TADD public service announcement (PSA) which will be seen throughout the region this summer.

"Kyle Busch, a Las Vegas native, has been the top-finishing rookie in 12 out of 13 NASCAR events this year. When we were designing this safety campaign, we decided to start with the hometown angle, and we are grateful for Kyle's time as well as Lowe's endorsement to help us prepare the public service announcement," said Warning Coordination Meteorologist Andy Bailey, WFO Las Vegas.

In the PSA, Busch says, "Some people say driving a race car can be risky, but there's one risk I'd never take on the road. I'd never try to drive my car through flood waters." Busch goes on to state, "If you encounter a flooded roadway, do like the National Weather Service says and turn around, don't drown."

The local campaign includes 30-second TV and radio spots for use by local media. In addition to the public service announcement, the Las Vegas TADD campaign will also feature 150,000 flash flood safety flash cards, provided by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH), which will be distributed by area car dealers. Anderson Dairy will also include flash flood safety information on more than 100,000 milk cartons this summer.

The recently completed PSA is generic enough to be used at NWS offices in many locations across the country. As a result, broadcast quality copies have been made available to the six NWS regional headquarters for them to duplicate and distribute to their field offices as they see fit.

"We hope the Las Vegas public service announcement will help us with the national TADD campaign for future years," said Bailey. "With the growing popularity of NASCAR as a spectator sport, we want to carry the flash flood awareness message to as many people as possible."

The TADD campaign is a joint effort by NOAA's NWS and FLASH. FLASH's Leslie Chapman-Henderson briefed senior NWS executives at the Corporate Board meeting last week in Crystal City, VA. She called FLASH and the NWS "partners in prevention" and said that FLASH can provide outreach materials, as available. To learn more about FLASH go online at To contact FLASH send an e-mail to or call toll free: (877) 221-SAFE.

Back to Top

Long-Distance Collaboration Yields Outstanding New Facility

By Jessica Harper
NWS Communications Office/Public Affairs Intern

Physical Scientist Bill Knight can finally stretch his legs. The area surrounding his cubicle is clutter-free, and the close-quarter compactness he experienced in his former work area in an aging modular building no longer exists. "Coming to work now is like boarding the Starship Enterprise," said Knight. This one comparison speaks volumes about the light-year advantages of working in the spacey, newly-built West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WC/ATWC) in Palmer, AK.

NWS employees Ron Warren and Thomas A. Henry, recently won the NOAA 2004 Administrator's Award for planning and managing this very facility. Both helped the building obtain the U.S. Green Building Council's Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.

Warren is a project architect for the Facilities Management Branch in Silver Spring, MD, while Henry is a Facilities Upgrade Program Manager in Anchorage, AK. Thanks to their team effort, the WC/ATWC is the first LEED certified facility to operate under the Department of Commerce (DOC). Others within DOC have attempted this same feat, but Henry and Warren's team was the first to succeed.

Completed in June 2003, WC/ATWC, which took a little over a year to construct, uses cutting edge technology to track tsunamis-massive tidal waves caused by underwater earthquakes or volcanic eruptions-and to provide timely and effective warnings and information for the coastal areas of Alaska, California, Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia.

Warren's role was mostly headquarters-based. He served as project manager, briefed senior management, and led design and construction efforts from start to finish.

"We equipped the facility with redundant backup equipment and an emergency power system," he said. "The team coordinated [the project] by telephone. Alaska's remoteness was the most challenging part because it is such a long distance away from material distribution."

Henry served as Assistant Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (ACOTR), the primary Government inspection agent for construction, and as regional engineer representative from the project's inception to its completion. He visited the site weekly and coordinated interactions between the crew and the WC/ATWC staff.

From the start of the project, Warren and Henry envisioned an energy-efficient building. They equipped the facility with water conservation measures and safeguards, renewable material sources, and air quality control. "Our team wanted an environmentally sensitive building design," Warren said. Low maintenance was a must.

Much to Henry and Warren's delight, the facility--like other U.S. "green" buildings--came with several financial benefits, including lower energy, waste, and water costs; lower operational and maintenance costs; and lower environmental and emissions costs.

Scientist-In-Charge of the WC/ATWC, Paul Whitmore, attributes part of its success to the Warren/Henry team. "We had a great crew," Whitmore said. "They did an outstanding job."

Employees at the new Tsunami Warning Center are especially grateful, mostly because safety threats are now obsolete. The award-winning building meets upgraded safety standards that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires. Alaska Region Acting Director Laura Furgione said, "Our employees no longer work in a facility where they didn't feel safe. The new building is free of fire and electric failure risks."

Tracey Lake, an employee at the Regional Office in Anchorage, AK, agrees. "The first building was outdated," Lake said. "Now, it is fabulous. It is such an improvement. Ron and Tom worked really hard and the employees had been waiting a long time for this."

A 33-year Alaskan resident, Henry was geographically closer to this project than other members of his team. Of his work mate, he said, "I met Ron 16 years ago. [We have] worked on projects before. He's my friend." Warren echoes that sentiment, saying "Tom [is on] what I like to call the 'A' Team. [He is one of] the best partners to have when working on an Alaska project." Warren enjoys team work and the idea that a group effort can benefit the entire Nation.

"This is not something that an architect or engineer does every day and could be a once in a career opportunity," Warren said. "For me, this is my fourth project up in Alaska. It can be hard work at times.but somebody has to do it!"

According to Warren, meeting new people is the most exciting aspect of his job. "I enjoy working with people," he said, "and [working for the NWS] has given me infinite opportunities to meet all kinds." Like his partner Henry, Warren has worked for NOAA for more than 25 years. His appreciation for the environment extends beyond the office; he sails regularly during the summer months and views the hobby as an integral part of his personal environmental conscientiousness.

An avid skier and dog musher, Henry most enjoys serving the people by providing sound facilities that disseminate important information about tsunamis, severe weather, and other natural disasters.

"It's nice to work for an organization that has 'service' in its name," Henry said. He considers education about environmental threats and occurrences a key aspect of public safety.

Warren and Henry have not only garnered Administrator's Awards for their achievements but have helped to heighten the general public's environmental awareness as well.

Back to Top

Charleston Meteorologist Participates in 'Beat the Brainiacs' Competition

News anchor Jon Robinson asks the "Brainiac" panelists a question during Project Impact's mock game show. Panelists seated left to right are Carl Simmons, Allison Dean Wright, NWS Meteorologist Paul Yura, and Edya Arroyave. Photo by Clayton Wine.

Charleston, SC, Weather Forecast Office Meteorologist Paul Yura recently participated in a mock game show called Beat the Brainiacs, as part of Charleston County's Project Impact.

Project Impact is a not-for-profit partnership of 172 private, non-profit, and public-sector entities that have a mission of making Charleston County more disaster resistant. The partners perform multiple types of projects focused on helping citizens and students to be better prepared for various types of events such as hurricanes and earthquakes.

The June 3, 2004, mock game show pinned 15 elementary students from the Eleane Butler Ivy Academy in North Charleston versus four "Brainiacs."

Lead Forecaster Paul Yura was the designated "Weather Brainiac." Other panelists included Carl Simmons, Director of Charleston County Building Services, Allison Dean Wright, Executive Director of South Carolina Insurance News Service, and Edya Arroyave, Deputy Director of the City of North Charleston Planning Department. The game show was hosted by news anchor Jon Robinson from the NBC affiliate WCBD-TV in Charleston. The project was spearheaded by Project Impact Director Joni Rennhack.

Students studied disaster preparedness in order to compete and answer the questions for the game show. Students were awarded medals when they answered questions correctly. Topics included hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, fire, and preparedness. The students seemed to really enjoy the game show format which brought out the highly competitive nature of the kids.

"Through these types of events, both the students and the teachers learn about hazard preparedness while having fun at the same time," said Rennhack.

According to Yura, the students won the competition, but he added it was a "close" contest.

Back to Top

Cost Management Question of the Month

Scott Lindsey from Alaska Region is the June cost management Question of the Month winner. Scott wins an NWS shirt for his correct answer to the question of naming the Financial Management Center where each of the following projects is funded:

  1. NCEP Construction (Earmark) Answer: Office of Operational Systems (OOS)
  2. Phased Array Radar/Engineering Manufacturing Answer: Office of Science and Technology (OST)
  3. ARSAD Project Answer: Office of the Assistant Administrator for Weather Services (AA)

Congratulations, Scott!

July's cost management question of the month is:

During the second quarter, which region spent the least on forecast products? Please state the amount.

The following link provides a clue and contains the answer.


E-mail your answer to no later than July 21, 2004. The first correct answer received wins an NWS shirt.

Back to Top

Employee Milestones

  • Click here to see NEW APPOINTMENTS/TRANSFERS to NWS through June 30, 2004.
  • Click here to see RETIREMENTS/DEPARTURES from NWS through June 30, 2004.

Back to Top

Also On the Web.NEXRAD Now

The Radar Operations Center (ROC) recently published the NEXRAD Now, Summer 2004. The issue was distributed electronically and placed on the ROC web page. Headlines in this issue include: New WSR-88D Mesocyclone Detection Algorithm, Air Traffic Controllers Using WSR-88D Products, and Build 5.0 Precipitation Processing Subsystem Changes.

Back to Top

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.
Have news you'd like to spread using NOAA's NWS Focus? Have feedback on how we can improve NOAA's NWS Focus and employee communications? We want to hear from you! E-mail us at

Click here for guidelines on how to prepare articles and photographs for submission to NOAA's NWS Focus.


Communications Office COM Resources NOAA's NWS Focus Weekly Reports Feedback    



Send questions and comments to or mail to:

Weather Service
Communications Office
1325 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910-3283