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NOAA's NWS Focus
September 27, 2004 View Printer Friendly Version


- Letter to the Editor: Spanish Language NWR

- Air Quality Forecasts Now Official in Northeast United States

 -NWS Director Addresses Emergency Management Directors at NEMA Conference
 -Hurricane Ivan Gives Regional Director an Evacuee's Perspective
 -Boots Are Too Tough for Rattlesnake
 -Outlook for New Postage Stamps: Mostly Cloudy
 -Also On the Web...New Executive Director at American Meteorological Society
 -Big Sky Outreach: Employee Teaches in Classroom with Very High Ceiling
 -NWS Snapshots

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The U.S. Postal Service begins selling a set of 15 cloud stamps in early October. See the story below.

Letter to the Editor: Spanish Language NWR

We recently received the following letter from Bill Alexander of the El Paso, TX, Weather Forecast Office:

I applaud the San Diego WFO for their efforts to establish a Spanish language NWR transmitter in the Coachella Valley, CA, area.

I need to add that it is the second (not first) Spanish language NWR transmitter in the western U.S. WFO El Paso began its Spanish language NWR transmission early in 2004. In fact, it is due to the pioneering efforts of El Paso WFO's Information Technology Offier, Rodney Heckel, that selection and engineering of translation software, and custom idiom development, and tireless hours of testing and evaluating, that the El Paso Spanish NWR exists. Without Rod's dedication, the Coachella Valley Spanish NWR and other emerging Spanish language NWR broadcasts, including WFO Brownsville Spanish NWR, would not have occurred this soon.

William O. Alexander
MIC, WFO El Paso Area

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Air Quality Forecasts Now Official in Northeast United States

Air Quality Forecasts (AQF) for the Northeastern United States, developed jointly by NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), are now official products.

The new AQF provides forecasts of hour-by-hour ozone levels through midnight of the following day, at 12 kilometer grid resolution. The information is posted and updated twice daily on NWS and EPA data servers. The new capability was developed jointly by NOAA and the EPA, with critical funding support in Congress provided by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH), and has undergone rigorous real-time testing and evaluation over the past two summers.

"NOAA and its partner agencies have a long history of using scientific research to solve real-world problems," said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator. "The implementation of this new air quality ozone forecast into operations is a prime example of NOAA's commitment to research that helps save lives. We look forward to the day when the capability is available to all Americans. I would particularly like to thank Senator Judd Gregg for his strong and longstanding support of this program. Because of his efforts in Congress to secure funding for NOAA air quality ozone forecasting, this program is now a reality and as a result, people in the Northeastern United States will be better informed about the air they breathe."

Read the NOAA news release here

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NWS Director Addresses Emergency Management Directors at NEMA Conference

"As Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Ivan have shown us, even in a post 9/11 world we can not forget that severe weather remains a real and present danger to America, our citizens, and our Nation's economy," NWS Director Brig. Gen. D.L. Johnson told emergency management directors representing States and Territories at the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) annual conference in New York City on Sept. 11 - 15. Johnson was one of several distinguished speakers including Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Guliani.

While most conference speakers and sessions focused on homeland security, Johnson's stressed the importance of strengthening the NWS/NEMA partnership and new and improved services the NWS will provide to the Nation in the future "We are proud to be part of the team supporting emergency managers and homeland security," he said.

With Hurricane Ivan heading towards the U.S. coast, several emergency management directors including Craig Fugate, of Florida, could not attend the conference.

Steve Kuhl, National WCM Program Manager and NWS Headquarters main liaison to NEMA, also attended the conference. Kuhl said NEMA President David Liebersbach and Executive Director Trina Sheets, were very appreciative that General Johnson spoke at this year's conference. Kuhl received many positive remarks from the Emergency Management Directors about the outstanding job the NWS is doing to protect our nation's citizens from the threat of severe weather. During the conference, Johnson presented Liebersbach a Certificate of Appreciation for his long term commitment and contributions to the StormReady and TsunamiReady Program.

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Hurricane Ivan Gives Regional Director an Evacuee's Perspective

Editors' Note: Pacific Region Headquarters Director Jeff LaDouce was on leave on the Gulf Coast in the days leading up to landfall of Hurricane Ivan. Below he offers a first-hand description of his evacuation.

By Jeff LaDouce
Director, NWS Pacific Region

I was on a personal trip in mid-September for the formal installation of Navy Rear Admiral Tim McGee as the new Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command at Stennis Space Center, MS. While there, I met with the folks at the National Data Buoy Center, until my visit was cut short by Ivan.

I lived on the Gulf Coast four times. Pensacola, FL, in 1968 and 1969, and the Mississippi Coast from 1983 to 1986, 1989 to 1992 and 1996 to 2002. Hurricanes were always a threat and several occurred that effected me - Camille in 1969, Elena in 1985, and Georges in 1998. None required my family or me to evacuate. On Monday, September 13, 2004, my wife and I flew into New Orleans, LA, to attend a Navy ceremony at Stennis Space Center. We know the area was being threatened by hurricane Ivan, but felt that we had plenty of time to attend the ceremony and leave the area.

Not the case! Hour by hour, Ivan looked more threatening to the New Orleans and the South Western Mississippi gulf coast, by September 14, we made the decision to join the more than two million people that would evacuate the area. What an ordeal. The good news - two recent hurricanes striking Florida, continuous news coverage of our Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) and an excellent outreach program by NWS Southern Region got people moving early.

Our route was to the west to San Antonio, TX, via Baton Rouge, LA, normally a 9-hour trip. Twelve hours into the trip, we still hadn't reached Baton Rouge. Rest stops were filled as far west as Beaumont, TX. People tired of driving and out of harms way just waiting to see what the storm was going to do. By that time it looked as though New Orleans was going to be spared I had the opportunity to talk with several people, nearly all from New Orleans and all happy they made the decision to leave even though Ivan missed the Big Easy and surrounding area.

I took away a couple of thoughts. I will evacuate earlier rather than later. If we had left the area at 10 or 11 a.m. the trip to San Antonio would have been 9 hours rather than 26 hours. The active tropical season had heightened everyone's awareness -- and people responded.

My hat is off to TPC, Southern Region, and Eastern Region. From my perspective, they did a great job starting long before the tropical season began and continuing as the remains of Ivan caused extensive tornado outbreaks and severe flooding.

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Boots Are Too Tough for Rattlesnake

Electronics Technician John Hickman of Lubbock, TX, was glad he was wearing a pair of high-top work boots recently when he had an encounter with a rattle snake.

Hickman was servicing a wind profiler in Jayton, TX, on September 17, 2004. Jayton is southeast of Lubbock, and the wind profiler is located in a semi-arid area with scrub brush and mesquite vegetation. Recent and persistent rains in West Texas caused the brush to grow considerably more since the last visit made to the site several months ago, according to Engineer Terry Brisbin of NWS Southern Region Headquarters.

The well-camouflaged rattlesnake was lying next to the Profiler's cement pad, which is outside a chain link fence.

"The snake was hidden from view and did not rattle until after the bite," Hickman said.

Hickman said the rattlesnake struck at his ankle about an inch down from the top of the boot and got one fang into the boot, but the snake was unable to penetrate all the way through the leather.

"This is a good example of why people should wear boots and suitable clothing when working out in the open," said Olga Kebis, NWS Safety Officer.

Barbara Mayes at the NWS booth.  Photo by Tom Dietrich, Hydrologist, NWS HeadquartersHydrologic Services Division Electronics Technician John Hickman holds the rattle snake that tried to bite him.

NSC President Allen McMillan (left) and other NSC officials receive a weather briefing from meteorologist Barbara Mayes (right).   Photo by Tom Dietrich. Hickman points to the spot where his boot protected him from the snake bite.

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Outlook for New Postage Stamps: Mostly Cloudy

The U.S. Postal Service begins issuing new postage stamps bearing pictures of clouds on October 4, 2004.

The Cloudscapes stamp sheet includes fifteen 37-cent stamps based on photographs of nine cloud formations. The stamps are arranged on the stamp pane according to altitude, and information about each cloud is on the back of the pane behind the stamp. Postcards with the Cloud Stamps on them will also be available.

The cloud stamps are being released at a Boston, MA, event on October 4, to begin National Stamp Collecting Month and tie into the theme, "Reach for the Sky and Collect Stamps!" NOAA and the NWS are partnering with the Weather Channel and the American Meteorological Society to educate stamp collectors about atmospheric sciences.

The first-day-of-issue dedication ceremony is at the historic Blue Hill Observatory ( in Milton, MA. Stamp products will be available on-site and weather-related activities for students are scheduled throughout the day. WFO Taunton, MA, is providing an activity in the morning for the 250 local students attending the press conference.

Warning Coordination Meteorologists have been sent copies of the USPS CloudScapes Information Kit, including a compact disc with images of the 15 cloud stamps and background information on the stamps. The NWS Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services is encouraging Weather Forecast Offices to develop appropriate outreach activities for their areas. Little Rock, AR, and Knoxville, TN, for example, have links to information on the new stamps from their web pages. NWS Outreach Coordinator Ron Gird said some offices have contacted local television stations for partnerships with the stamp promotion.

Read the USPS news release for more information.

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Big Sky Outreach: Employee Teaches in Classroom with Very High Ceiling

Hydrometeorological Technician Mark Pellerito of the Glasgow, MT, Weather Forecast Office recently taught weather to a group of students in a classroom with very high ceilings when he participated in a two-day outdoor classroom for 8th graders from Montana's Roosevelt and Richland counties.

Students were bussed to the outdoor classroom site "in the middle of nowhere," Pellerito said, about 20 miles south of Culbertson and 20 miles north of Sidney, MT. Six different "stations" included topics such as archaeology/paleontology, fish and wildlife, and plant identification, and of course, weather.

Pellerito said the event was really good exposure for the NWS and the WFO Glasgow county warning area (CWA).

"Northeast Montana is a sparsely populated CWA, a little over 50,000 people total for all 12 of our counties!" said Pellerito. "Two hundred seventy five students are a lot for this area.

"It was a lot of fun talking to the students about how the weather works, and answering all of their questions outside of a classroom environment," said Pellerito. "We were all outdoors, the sun was shining, you could see for miles and miles around, and the trees were colorful with the onset of Fall... far away from any real signs of civilization."

Pellerito said the kids hiked in from the highway, and then walked from station-to-station through the day. To get the teaching materials to the site, Pellerito said he had to use the four-wheel-drive of the NWS's truck and drive through the mud, and he was "glad to make it back out when it was done!"

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Also On the Web...New Executive Director at American Meteorological Society

Keith L. Seitter has been named Executive Director of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), the Nation's leading professional society for those involved in the atmospheric and related sciences. As Executive Director, Seitter is responsible for the daily operations of the Society, which has more than 11,000 members around the world. Seitter is replacing Ronald D. McPherson, who served as Executive Director since October of 1998. Seitter began his new position on September 15, 2004.

Read the AMS news release here.

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NWS Snapshots

Click here for a look at photos we've received from around the NWS.

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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.
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