|NOAA's NWS Focus Newsletter -
November 2, 2001
Nominee for NOAA Administrator Testifies at Confirmation Hearing
The President's nominee to be the next NOAA Administrator
testified and answered questions before a Senate committee
November 8, 2001. The Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation concluded hearings on the nomination of Retired
Navy Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Jr., of Virginia, to be
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. The
next step in the process is for the full Senate to vote
on confirmation. The text of the Admiral's testimony is
available on the NOAA Legislative Affairs website at http://www.legislative.noaa.gov/lautenbachertst110801.htm.
Judging the Weather
The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court recently
spoke to a group of Washington, DC, area meteorologists
about his World War II background as a weather observer.
The Honorable William H. Rehnquist was guest speaker at
the October meeting of the District of Columbia Chapter
of the American Meteorological Society (DC-AMS).
The future Chief Justice was assigned to numerous Army
Air Corps state-side weather training schools, but eventually,
in the summer of 1945, went overseas and served as a weather
observer in the European Theater. Rehnquist was shipped
to Tripoli as the first step in a westward odyssey via a
series of air bases that were being decommissioned, ending
up in Casablanca. He remained in Casablanca for 4 months.
According to the Chief Justice, the situation was too good
to be true. Most of the weather facility had been turned
over to French civilians to operate, since Morocco was French
territory and they would have to take over when the last
American troops left Cazes. So the responsibilities of the
Weather Squadron were minimal.
Finally, in late March 1946, along with many of those of
the people stationed at Cazes Air Base at Casablanca, Rehnquist
said he boarded the SS Adabelle Lykes, to travel
back to the United States.
The Chief Justice finished his talk with an account of
the role of weather forecasts in D-Day-- June 6, 1944, the
most important day of World War II in the European Theater.
Essential to the success of the attack were favorable tides
and favorable weather. The invasion force assembled in England
in late May consisted of 4,000 ships, 11,000 planes, and
nearly 3 million soldiers, airmen and sailors. D-Day was
successful, and in that single day more than 175,000 allied
troops were landed in Normandy-and the key to that success
was great weather forecasting, as acknowledge by General
Dwight D. Eisenhower in his personal diary.
Responding to a question on his decision after the war
to leave meteorology and become a lawyer, Rehnquist said
with a quip that he likes to think the switch improved both
The Chapter presented the Chief Justice a plaque, the centerpiece
being a weather satellite picture donated by the Air Force
Director of Weather. On the plaque, the chapter honored
Rehnquist's interest in weather and climate by proclaiming
him a legal "weather weenie." Click here
for photos of the Chief Justice's AMS presentation.
Article information contributed by Ms. Lauraileen O'Connor,
Mitretek, (DC-AMS Recording Secretary) and Chris Moren,
QSS Group Inc., (DC-AMS Chair)
|NAS Committee Holds Second Meeting on Public, Academic, Private Roles in Weather Forecasting
The National Academy of Science's "Committee on Partnerships
in Weather and Climate Services" met for its second session
on November 5, 2001, in Washington, DC, and heard several
presentations which were open to the public.
The committee received a briefing by Francis P. Bretherton
of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, on a soon-to-be-released
data privatization report by the NAS entitled "Resolving
Conflicts Arising from the Privatization of Environmental
Data." The report will provide an analysis of the problems
associated with attempts to "privatize" environmental data,
in the "private"context (e.g., the emerging commercial land
remote sensing industry) and the European context of "government
NWS Chief Information Officer Carl Staton discussed the
size and diversity of the NWS infrastructure and systems,
and the diversity of methods the NWS uses to disseminate
information. NWS Strategic Planning and Policy Director
Ed Johnson summarized the evolution of the NWS process for
making the NEXRAD data stream available.
Ravi Nathan, general manager of the Weather Derivatives
Group at Aquila, Inc., outlined the weather risk management
industry and its information needs. Richard A. Anthes, president
of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research spoke
to the group about where global weather services may be
in 2025. Anthes is also vice-chair of the NAS Committee.
Russell Gold, director, Airline Operations Control/Meteorology,
Air Transport Association, presented a perspective of how
the aviation community uses weather forecasts.
The committee's next public session is a town hall meeting
in Orlando on January 17, 2002, while many members of the
meteorological community are assembled for the annual meeting
of the American Meteorological Society. The committee's
web site at http://www.nationalacademies.org/partnerships
solicits comments from interested parties and provides information
and feedback that the committee has received.
WFO Juneau Hosts High School Student
During the month of November 2001, Courtney Patterson,
a Juneau-Douglas High School junior, is participating in
the Choosing Healthy Options in Cooperative Education (CHOICE)
program. CHOICE is a job shadow program which offers students
the chance to gain experience with a beyond-school area
of interest. "Students typically choose WFO Juneau for their
job shadow in relation to a science class, but Courtney
is enrolled in a government class," said Richard Przywarty,
Director of NWS's Alaska Region. As a result, this shadow
will explore differences in the private versus the public
sector, intergovernmental relations, and general aspects
and organization of the Department of Commerce, NOAA, and
Radar Hotline Celebrates 10 Years of Worldwide Assistance
On November 4, 2001, the radar troubleshooters who keep
the Nation's weather radars running celebrated 10 years
of providing technical and scientific support to the worldwide
network of Doppler weather radars operated by the NWS, the
Defense Department and the Department of Transportation.
The Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) Hotline team
is part of the NWS Office of Operations Systems (W/OPS)
Radar Operations Center based in Norman, OK. The
NEXRAD team provides telephone and onsite assistance
to thousands of NWS, Federal Aviation Administration, Air
Force, and Navy weather forecasters and system operators
worldwide, whenever needed.
Since the hotline team began official operations November
4, 1991, it has processed and resolved more than 93,000
requests for assistance from a customer base of over 5,000
operations and maintenance personnel at 300 field sites
worldwide. In annual customer surveys, the hotline consistently
scores comprehensive customer approval ratings of 93 to
95 percent. The Hotline team has been awarded with a Vice
President's Hammer Award for Reinventing Government, the
Department of Commerce Silver Medal and Customer Service
Excellence Awards, and the Federal Agency Excellence Award
from Government Computer News magazine.
Daryl Covey, hotline manager, said, "The result of our
customer support has been extremely high availability and
effectiveness of the government's primary weather warning
system, and unprecedented high quality of the radar-based
weather warnings our citizens rely on to be safe."
NOAA Magazine Debuts--Offers Look Behind the Headlines
With WFO Brownsville, TX, situated so close to the Mexican
border, the office has an interest NOAA has a lot of stories
to tell beyond the day's breaking news. A new web page,
NOAA Magazine, was introduced this week to take
an in-depth look at the stories behind the headlines. According
to Greg Hernandez of NOAA Public Affairs, the magazine will
also profile NOAA services available on the Internet and
other media. November's issue covers winter weather preparation;
the economic impact weather has on the U.S. economy; and
NOAA's role following the World Trade Center attack. Click
below to see the new NOAA Magazine.
Thrift Savings Plan Open Season Begins November 15
The next Thrift Savings Plan open season for civilian government
employees is November 15, 2001, through January 31, 2002.
During this time, all FERS and CSRS employees may enroll
in the TSP, and current participants may change the amount
they contribute to the Plan. New contribution limits effective
in January 2002 will be 12 percent for FERS employees, and
7 percent for CSRS employees and members of the uniformed
services. TSP participants will be able to make a maximum
dollar contribution of $11,000 in 2002. All participants
who want to increase their contributions must submit requests
during the open season. To enroll or change your contribution
amount, TSP officials typically require you to complete
a Form TSP-1, Election Form, which is available on the TSP
Web site or from your agency personnel office. Employee
also provides capabilities for making certain changes to
your TSP account. For more TSP-related news, visit the TSP
home page (http://www.tsp.gov/).
For information on the changes made to the TSP over the
past six months, see the articles in the May
4 and May 18, 2001 issues
of NOAA's NWS Focus.
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