|NOAA's NWS Focus
David Reynolds (far right),
Meteorologist-in-Charge of the NWS Weather Forecast
Office (WFO) in Monterey, CA, recently presented
a length of service award to staff at Lick Observatory
at Mount Hamilton near San Jose, CA, for 120
continuous years as a Cooperative
Observer station. With Reynolds from left
to right are Remington Stone, Director of operations
at Lick Observatory, and COOP observers Lotus
Baker and Wendy Hansen of the observatory. The
staff at the observatory record the daily high
and low temperature, rainfall and snowfall atop
Mount Hamilton. At the end of the month, this
data is sent to the local NWS Forecast Office
in Monterey, CA, for quality control and then
forwarded to NOAA's National Climate Data Center
where it is incorporated into the official climate
record of the United States.
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
Dialog: Wind Speed and Wind Damage Reports
In our opinion,
the NWS needs to develop consistent and complete guidelines
for what types of wind damage qualify as severe. Too many
offices (including this one) use very marginal damage reports
(the classic...power lines blown down) or wind speed estimates
by spotters when most, if not all, spotters may not be adequately
trained to accurately estimate wind speeds. When one sees
reports of 60-65 mph winds by a "trained" spotter and there
is no significant damage reported, then a flag should go
up. Is this really severe? We are more than willing to accept
such a report to verify a warning. In some cases we make
several (8-10) phone calls to get a marginally severe report
all in the name of verification. Is it a statistically sound
practice to not make the same effort in counties where warnings
were not issued and where marginal storms existed? We urge
you to consider constructing a well written and well thought
out and statistically sound national directive would take
out some of the subjectivity where severe wx [weather] verification
Drew Albert and Wes Browning NWS Forecast Office Springfield,
Accurate wind speed and wind damage reports are important.
Our reports are often the only historical record of severe
weather events. I share your desire to ensure we use consistent
and statistically sound guidance in determining which reports
We will publish
National Directive System Instruction 10-1605 "Storm Data
Preparation" by early January. This instruction will provide
guidance on Storm Data reports, and include guidelines for
severe wind damage reports. A team of Warning Coordination
Meteorologists wrote this instruction to ensure our guidance
was based on field tested, consistent and statistically
sound practices. Implementation nationwide should help reduce
the subjectivity in severe weather assessments.
Kelly, NWS Director
Collaboration Plays Big Role in Forecasting First Eastern Winter Storm
collaborative Winter Weather Experiment - a joint venture
between National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP),
Eastern Region, Central Region, and the Office of Climate,
Water, and Weather Services - helped NWS forecasters provide
outstanding service for the first significant weather system
of the 2002-2003 winter season in the eastern United States
December 4-5, 2002, according to Dean Gulezian, Director,
Eastern Region. "The WWE was especially helpful in unifying
our winter weather warnings with a clear, consistent message
for our customers and partners on this high impact event,"
weather system produced a large area of freezing rain across
portions of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
Ice accumulations of one quarter to one half inch were common
across the area. The highest amounts of ice accumulation,
one half to one inch, occurred in the central Piedmont of
North Carolina. This resulted in numerous downed trees and
power lines in North Carolina and South Carolina. In total,
1.3 million customers lost power during the event. Meanwhile,
a swath of 4 to 8 inches of snow fell from eastern West
Virginia through northern Virginia northeastward across
the Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston
metropolitan areas. The highest snowfall total of 11 inches
was recorded in Mount Hope, NY.
From the special
weather statements and winter weather outlooks issued several
days in advance to the timely posting of winter weather
watches, warnings, and advisories, our partners and customers
were well informed on the threats posed by this storm system,
according to Gulezian. For example, transportation departments
in the Carolinas and Virginia began preparing for the event
on Tuesday, December 4, dispatching crews to treat the primary
roads/highways. Power utility companies in North Carolina
pre-staged and organized internal and external resources
to deal with anticipated power outages across the area.
Preliminary estimates indicate that the average regional
NWS winter weather warning lead time for this event was
about 17 hours, well above the NWS national goal.
the WWE contributed to the NWS success. The experiment began
last year with NCEP and a handful of Eastern Region offices.
Promising results encouraged Eastern Region to expand the
WWE this year to include all of its Weather Forecast Offices
(WFOs) - 23 total; eight Central Region WFOs have also joined
the experiment for FY03. In addition to providing an overview
of numerical model performance, the WWE provides an opportunity
for NCEP to test graphical guidance from the Short Range
Ensemble Forecast System (SREF) for application to winter
weather forecasting, and to explore its collaborative role
with WFOs in the National Digital Forecast Database era.
The WWE also produces graphical guidance to show the possibility
of exceeding watch and warning snowfall thresholds. Actual
WWE collaboration occurs through an Internet-based chat
room and twice-daily conference calls.
At the end of
the 2002-2003 winter season, the NWS will compare this years'
winter weather watch and warning program verification with
last year's to evaluate the success of the WWE program.
Pongsona Hammers Guam Forecast Office
have been restored to the Guam Weather Forecast Office (WFO)
following a heavy battering the island took from Super Typhoon
Pongsona December 8, 2002. (A typhoon is a tropical cyclone
occurring west of the International Dateline; a super typhoon
has winds exceeding 155 miles per hour.)
winds and heavy rainfall hammered the Hall Islands of northern
Chuuk State on Friday, December 6 (Chuuk Local Time), and
the Islands of Guam and Rota on Sunday, December 8 (Guam
Local Time). Sustained winds of 100 to 150 mph with higher
gusts occurred on the Islands of Guam and Rota for periods
up to six hours within the eyewall of Typhoon Pongsona.
indicate widespread devastation, and structural and infrastructure
damage including power, phone, and water outages on Guam
and Rota. All NWS staff and families are accounted for,
including two employees were away on temporary duty during
NWS Pacific Region Headquarters Director Jeff Ladouce, the
impact to Guam was much worse than from Typhoon Chata'an
in July, and even Super Typhoon Paka in December 1997.
Due to communications
failure, WFO Honolulu, HI, provided full-service backup
for WFO Guam for about 30 hours between December 9 and 10,
2002. Honolulu provided backup again when communications
failed a second time. Solar-powered satellite phone is the
only way Pacific Region Headquarters has been able to stay
in contact with WFO Guam during these periods.
WFO Guam was
built with typhoons in mind, constructed with reinforced
steel and concrete, and equipped with typhoon shutters on
the windows and doors, two covered generators, and water
storage. According to reports from Pacific Region, WFO Guam
sustained mostly external damage, but essentially survived
intact, and the alternate emergency generator is working.
One tower with an upper-air target antenna was bent and
fell to the ground, and the bottom two feet of the upper
air inflation building's roll-up doors were torn off. An
office water spigot was turned on by the storm, releasing
about 5,000 gallons of stored water. The remaining 5,000
gallons in the on-site storage tank is required for restrooms,
ready room, and the hydrogen generator water purifier.
The Guam Advanced
Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) is operating,
but communications between the WFO and the WSR-88D Doppler
Radar were down at last report. The radar appears from a
distance to have survived intact, according to reports from
WFO Guam. The Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS)
is operating, except for wind measurements, which are being
"This is a
sobering reminder that our employees who work hard to keep
their communities safe can also be victims of severe weather,"
said Ladouce. "Our people are having trouble getting simple
supplies like food, and having trouble getting to work because
of the gas situation." Nearly all employees' homes were
damaged by the storm: broken windows, roofing damage, downed
trees, etc. All homes sustained water damage and the majority
are without water. Those with generators have power, but
fuel availability is a major concern. One employee's apartment
is totally unlivable. Fuel reserves are unavailable because
the fuel storage farm is on fire. Fuel was restricted for
emergencies, so no gas is being sold to the public. Fuel
is needed for generators until power can be restored to
the island. With the island-wide power outage, generators
are crucial for refrigeration and communication (radio,
TV), to charge batteries needed for flashlights and cell
phones, and many other uses.
a link to some of the latest news on Guam.
NWS Honor Van Wert, OH, Heroes For Saving Lives Through
NOAA and the
NWS honored Van Wert, OH, community heroes at a December
10, 2002, public awards ceremony for their actions, which
saved countless lives during a tornado outbreak that claimed
four lives and injured 26 on November 10, 2002.
StormReady Community Hero Award was presented to Van Wert
County Emergency Manager Rick McCoy, County Commissioner
Gary Adams, and Van Wert City Mayor Stephen Gehres for establishing
the county's StormReady program with the NWS. Van Wert Cinemas
assistant manager Scott Shaffer was given the NOAA NWS Public
Service Award for ushering moviegoers to safety after hearing
an NWS tornado warning.
a great compassion for all those people of Van Wert who
lost their homes to this destructive tornado," said Timothy
R.E. Keeney, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Atmospheres
for the Department of Commerce. "At the same time, we must
be grateful that due to the timely forecast of the National
Weather Service and the prompt and heroic action of the
emergency management community and others, the tragedy was
not worse in terms of lives lost."
"Van Wert citizens
will be putting their lives back together for a long time
after this destructive tornado," said McCoy. "But at least,
thanks to StormReady and the lead time provided by the weather
forecasts, we were able to save many, many lives." Alerted
by a warning from the local StormReady radio alert system,
Shaffer and his staff evacuated more than 50 adults and
children from the theater just minutes before the powerful
tornado tore off the building's roof and tossed cars into
the screen and front seats where kids and parents had been
watching 'The Santa Clause 2.'
of nature is an awesome thing," Shaffer said. "Thank God
and a good staff we had enough time to get people to safety."
Meteorologist-in-Charge, and Steve Eddy, Warning Coordination
Meteorologist, of the Northern Indiana Weather Forecast
Office in Syracuse, IN, worked with state and county officials
for nearly a year to bring Van Wert to StormReady status.
"This is a
real success story for the Weather Service, NOAA Weather
Radio, and StormReady programs," said Sabones. "It's a case
where a timely and accurate weather warning activated the
system, allowing people to promptly respond, saving lives."
the awards were Keeney and NWS Central Region Director Dennis
McCarthy. More details on the Van Wert tornado are available
in the November
18, 2002, issue of NOAA's NWS Focus.
Together to Save Lives:
First NWS Hydrologic Program Managers Conference Unites,
Focuses Water Experts
The first National
Hydrologic Program Managers (HPM) Conference, was hosted
by the NWS Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services
(OCWWS) in New Orleans, LA, the week of December 3-6, 2002.
to get everyone together, all of the service hydrologists
and hydrology focal points at the Weather Forecast Offices,
River Forecast Centers, and Regional and National Headquarters,"
said Glenn Austin, Hydrologic Services Chief, OCWWS. "We
met to build a basis and understanding of hydrologic service
goals and priorities, and to provide a clear understanding
of what the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS)
is and the roles and responsibilities for implementing AHPS
across the country."
the conference also provided a chance for hydrologic program
managers to share ideas and best practices across regional
boundaries, and to provide training on program leadership,
team building and customer service.
Jack Kelly opened the conference with a presentation and
then took time to engage in a question and answer session
with the audience. "The emerging issue in this country,
and around the world, is water availability, accessability,
and quality," Kelly said.
of the Hydrologic Program and the importance HPMs play in
the Weather Service's mission were discussed by Greg Mandt,
OWCCS Director, and Gary Carter, Director of the Office
of Hydrologic Development (OHD).
by Kevin Stewart, Chairman, National Hydrologic Warning
Council, and Manager of Information and Flood Warning Systems,
Denver Urban Drainage and Flood Control District, Denver,
CO, and Jim White, Emergency Management Coordinator, Harris
County, TX, provided the HPMs with views from two customers
his keynote remarks noted that the AHPS Initiative has "elevated
the status of the NWS Hydrology Program in the country."
In turn, he added, the importance the NWS is giving to improving
hydrologic services is helping him and his peers make their
cases for improving hydrologic services at state and local
conference attendees "We need to continue to strengthen
our partnership and leverage off each others' resources
in order to effectively plan and respond to flood hazards
such as those caused by Tropical Storm Allison."
presented information about the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction
Service (AHPS). HPMs at all levels obtained a clear view
of AHPS and their role and responsibilities for its implementation.
An open forum at the end of this session provided the attendees
an opportunity to further clarify any questions that they
might have had.
and open forums at the conference covered Flash Flood Hydrology,
Snow Hydrology, River Ice (Jams), and Drought. Each of the
NWS Regions took time for breakouts to cover regional issues/topics.
NWS attendees indicated the conference was worthwhile.
"The fact that
this conference was organized and conducted for...WFO Hydrology
Program Managers makes me feel the work I do for the NWS
is important for the first time," said Steve Bayes, Service
Hydrologist, Little Rock, AR, Weather Forecast Office (WFO).
Service Hydrologist, Dodge City, KS, added, "For the first
time, I feel like we're all on the same page."
Still on Track to Influence U.S. Winter
early dose of snow and ice in the Southeast and along the
East Coast may be a glimpse of weather to come during Winter
2002-03, thanks to a moderate-strength El Niņo digging in
its heels. NOAA released an updated
Winter Outlook and updated El Niņo outlook on Thursday,
December 12, 2002. Additional background information on the current outlook was
prepared by the Office of Public Affairs and Climate Prediction
Center to help keep you up-to-date.
On the Field:
Reconditioning Center Veteran's Career Spans Massive Technological
Charles H. Lake, Jr., an Electronics Technician and quality control specialist at the National Reconditioning Center (NRC)
has seen tremendous technological change during a 38-year federal career, and 26 years with the NRC.
"When I first started working in electronics, everything was vacuum tubes," recalls Charles H. Lake, Jr. "We thought back
then that the transistor could never replace the vacuum tube, but it sure did!"
The NRC maintains both ancient and cutting-edge equipment; everything from mercury thermometers, river gauges, and
parachutes to laser ceilometers that measure cloud height. Lake and co-workers in the Technical Inspection and Material
Reception Branch (TIMRB) of the NRC inspect both electronic and mechanical equipment before it is placed back into
operation in the field. The NRC is responsible for the repair and quality assurance of new and reconditioned parts shipped
to NWS offices.
"Everything is becoming computer-based," said Lake. "Today's equipment has diagnostic capabilities built-in and the
quality control technician of the future will have to be very computer-literate. While a lot of the old equipment has been
phased out though the modernization, it takes mechanical, electronic, computer, and hands-on experience to maintain
Weather Service equipment."
"I've seen technology change significantly during my career," recalls Lake. "My career spans the digital revolution, predates
the Internet and integrated circuits on computer chips, and computerized equipment networked together in open systems."
"Charlie is retiring on January 3, and leaving big shoes to fill," said TIMRB Branch Chief, Russel Horan. "I really admire
his willingness to go the extra mile to train his peers and new people on some of the older equipment and to make sure there
are written procedures in place so that others can follow behind him, pick-up the procedures, and be able to do a test.
Charlie is very professional and takes a lot of pride in his work, and he's good at his job."
Another coworker said Lake has been a "guiding light" when no one else had specifications or drawings or any idea how to
test some of the equipment that comes through the NRC's doors.
"He saves the day a lot of times when we have problems understanding certain equipment," said John Rasheed, an
Electronic Technician who works with Lake. Most of us call on Charlie Lake because he has such a wealth of experience, in
oscilloscopes, radar, barographs, hygrothemograph, and just about everything around here."
In reflecting on technological changes over the years, Lake says he's seen equipment come though the NRC that was built in
"A couple of years ago, we had a river gauge come in that was manufactured in 1925. So we're working on stuff that goes
way back, as well as cutting-edge technology."
Training, says Lake, will be key to staying ahead of the technology curve in the future. In the 26 years he has worked for the
NWS, Lake said he has accumulated 52 weeks of training to stay on top of technology and changing equipment.
"Everything now is digital, years ago everything was analog. Look at the oscilloscope, once it was switches, now it's all
digital," Lake said.
"Charlie is probably an expert on most of the equipment on the shelves of the NRC," said Al Morris, Chief of the NRC.
Morris is the only person with a longer tenure at the NRC; he arrived there a month before Lake. "Even from the very
beginning, Charlie's work was excellent. He's been very important part of this organization and he will be missed. His
work on remote data loggers has been just one area that stands out in my mind."
According to Roy Wiggins, Senior Electronics Technician in the unit where Lake works, the Instrument Inspection Unit,
"Charlie will be missed for more than his technical expertise."
"Charlie can talk to anyone, at any level, about anything. He has that capacity. He's a very unique person," adds Rasheed.
Lake's supervisor Horan says, " I wish I had ten more people like him. He has initiative, enthusiasm, warmth, and great
sense of humor. I wish him well as he moves on to the next phase of his life, it's been an honor working with him here at
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