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NOAA's NWS Focus Newsletter - November 2, 2001
- Nominee for NOAA Administrator Testifies at Confirmation Hearing
- Judging the Weather
- NAS Committee Holds Second Meeting on Public, Academic, Private Roles in Weather Forecasting
- WFO Juneau Hosts High School Student
- Radar Hotline Celebrates 10 Years of Worldwide Assistance
- NOAA Magazine Debuts-Offers Look Behind the Headlines
- Thrift Savings Plan Open Season Begins November 15


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


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 professions.

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 commercialization."

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 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 the NWS.



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 Express ( also provides capabilities for making certain changes to your TSP account. For more TSP-related news, visit the TSP home page ( 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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