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NOAA's NWS Focus
May 8, 2006 View Printer Friendly Version
Asian American Heritage Month


Meeting With and Listening to Constituents
- Communication, Coordination Lessen Red River of the North Flood Impacts
- NWS Dedicates New Hurricane-Resistant Weather Forecast Office in Key West, FL
- Training Division Announces New Modules on Tsunamis, Basic Hydrologic Science
- NOAA Incident Meteorologists Gather in Idaho to Prepare for Upcoming Season
- New Editions of Aware and The Front
- Job Application Primer Offers Specific Advice on Selection Process
- Recent NWS Obituaries
- Annual NWS Golf Outing Will Benefit Local Charity
- NWS/NOAA Retirees Plan Picnic in Kansas
- Employee Milestones
- Snapshots

Coastal IMETs during electronic theodolite training recently in Boise, ID. IMETs in pictured are, from left: Joel Cline (Honolulu, HI), Jim Merrell (Morehead City, NC), Frederic Bunnag (Medford, OR), Rick Davis (Tampa, FL), Rob Balfour (San Diego, CA) and John Pendergrast (Melbourne, FL). Read the story below.

Straight Talk:
Meeting With and Listening to Constituents

It's evident to me that there is great value in your local and regional constituent relations. I think it is important for our constituents to know the opportunities and challenges ahead for the NWS, and for us to seek their input in discovering common opportunities and in identifying ways to make our operations and services more efficient and effective.

I recently taped a short video based on the message I delivered to more than 35 key constituents representing business, academia, and government who met with me at NWS Headquarters on April 20. We've designated May 8-12, 2006, as "NWS Constituents Week," for local NWS offices to host similar sessions with your local partners and customers.

In the video I outlined our three initiatives, and touched on the importance of the President's FY 07 budget proposal. I'm looking for our local offices to provide some additional background and reflect how the budget supports the local office and the local constituency.

We have a good budget proposal for 2007 compared to the last two years, and compared with many other Federal agencies in 07. However, we need support for the President's budget to ensure it holds strong in the ever-escalating competition for federal dollars.

Be sure in your local meetings to keep notes of constituents' concerns and their most important issue; these notes need to be shared with your Regions and NWS Headquarters so we can provide it to NOAA as stakeholder input, which is used in the future budget planning process.

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Communication, Coordination Lessen Red River of the North Flood Impacts

Communication from NOAA's National Weather Service and coordination with state and local governments proved to be key in keeping North Dakota and Minnesota residents safe this spring as the Red River staged its almost annual rampage along the border between the two states.

An extremely wet fall 2005 and an early freeze followed by heavier than normal snowpack in the Red River Valley set the stage for spring 2006 flooding all along the river's drainage area that stretches from South Dakota to the Canadian border. NOAA snow surveys conducted by the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center, and constant monitoring of winter river conditions by staffs at the Eastern North Dakota Weather Forecast Office in Grand Forks, N.D., and the North Central River Forecast Center in Chanhassen, Minn., gave river forecasters an early edge in alerting state, county and local communities, water management agencies, media and the public of the developing potential for devastating floods.

When the spring thaw kicked into high gear in late March so did flood forecasting operations. NOAA forecasters utilized a variety of communications formats to prepare everyone for the major flooding that was to come. On-site meetings with local officials were combined with frequent calls to state and federal partners and increased postings to WFO and RFC web pages to keep the public advised of conditions. As flood conditions worsened, HIC Dan Luna put the RFC into 24-hour operations and NOAA snow survey aircraft provided aerial reconnaissance of the river valley.

MIC Dave McShane and his staff at Grand Forks started a daily marathon of contacts with community officials to keep everyone abreast of conditions. Daily conference calls stretched from small riverfront communities to state offices and NWS Central Region Headquarters in Kansas City to exchange and update information. WFO and RFC personnel made daily calls to the major urban areas of Fargo and Grand Forks, and Automated Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) web pages were updated constantly.

The entire event provided text book examples of multi agency communication and coordination to keep the public safe. As crest levels started to drop in southern sections of the valley, local officials credited the outstanding communication efforts of NOAA Weather Service forecasters, especially citing "the daily, personal contacts" from WFO and RFC staff members.

"Everyone involved in this year's flood mitigation efforts, from local to county to state to federal levels, should be congratulated for some of the best cooperation and coordination I've ever seen in this type of situation," Central Region Director Lynn Maximuk said. "I think they've set the standard for future battles against floods on the Red River and its tributaries. Improved forecasting and communications techniques played a big role in keeping the public informed and safe, but the professional attitude of everyone involved put it over the top."

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NWS Dedicates New Hurricane-Resistant Weather Forecast Office in Key West, FL

NWS recently dedicated the new, hurricane-resistant weather forecast office in Key West, FL. State and local officials were also on hand to mark the milestone event and to help release the first weather balloon from the office's unique, three story launch tower.

Constructed with a combination of concrete, reinforcing steel and hurricane impact-resistant glass, the new facility was built to withstand sustained winds of 165 mph. The interior contains an additional concrete structure designed to serve as a Severe Weather Occupancy Shelter to protect against winds up to 250 mph. It is located approximately a half-mile from shore and six-and-a-half feet above sea level. The interior floors are an additional seven feet above the grade for a combined height of 13.5 feet above sea level, which is 2.5 feet above the anticipated storm tide of a Category 5 hurricane.

Read more on the NWS Southern Region web page here.

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Training Division Announces New Modules on Tsunamis, Basic Hydrologic Science

Several new online training modules are now available to the NOAA Workforce on the topics of tsunamis and basic hydrology.

The 30-minute Tsunami E-Learning Module provides a general overview of the science of tsunamis and the NOAA TsunamiReady public safety program.

Three one-hour hydrology training modules titled Understanding the Hydrologic Cycle, Unit Hydrograph Theory, and Streamflow Routing are available. These foundation topics are part of the upcoming Basic Hydrologic Science course, and may be taken separately or used as a supporting topic to provide factual scientific information to students as they complete the case-based forecasting modules to be released later.

Understanding the Hydrologic Cycle helps students gain a basic understanding of the elements of the hydrologic cycle and examines the basic concepts of the hydrologic cycle including water distribution, atmospheric water, surface water, groundwater, and snowpack/snowmelt.

Unit Hydrograph Theory offers a thorough introduction to the use of unit hydrographs and the application of unit hydrograph theory in flood prediction. This module explains key terminology and assumptions, outlines the steps in creation of a unit hydrograph, examines the issues surrounding application of unit hydrograph theory, and discusses important considerations for forecasters.

Streamflow Routing offers a thorough introduction to methods and applications in the river forecasting process. This module explains key routing concepts, flow characteristics, and tools with a primary focus on hydrologic routing methods.

These modules can be found in the course on-line E-Learning Catalog. All NOAA NWS employees have access to eLearning@NOAA at

First-time users of the eLearning@NOAA site can find more information at the site: or contact, 303-497-8369.

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NOAA Incident Meteorologists Gather in Idaho to Prepare for Upcoming Season

By Heath Hockenberry
Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services (OCWWS) Fire Weather Program Manager, Boise, ID

More than 70 Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) and IMETs in training from across the Nation came together in Boise, Idaho recently for annual fire weather training. The training was funded by the NWS Training Division and coordinated by Larry Van Bussum, the NWS Fire Weather Operations Coordinator from OCWWS.

The training in Boise continued to provide IMET certification in the setting up of on-site communication systems and weather observation networks. In addition, all IMETs learned to use new electronic theodolite equipment for upper air information. The Great Basin Smokejumpers provided training in radio use and fire shelter deployment techniques to protect IMETs on the front lines during large fire incidents. IMETs provided briefings on their 2005 experiences. These experiences included large fire outbreaks and support during and after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

2006 marks the 90th year that the National Weather Service has provided direct, on-site meteorological support to fire control agencies. And while fire historically has been the main activity for IMET support, new types of incident requests are driving NOAA to proactively plan for the future of IMET support.

Incidents such as hazardous material and oil spills, along with high impact national events such as Hurricane Katrina, point toward a future of critical weather information support for the entire emergency management community. To prepare for this critical emergency support, NOAA has invested additional resources in the IMET program that will allow faster incident response times and increased forecast accuracy during critical events.

The IMET program will add increased response capability specifically at the coast in 2006. Mobile forecasting laptops, satellite dishes and on-site observing equipment will be added or upgraded at 5 coastal locations this year. In addition, the entire IMET program is being supported with new capability to respond not only to coastal incidents, but all high impact all-hazard events. Additional training for IMET all-hazards response is scheduled during the week of May 22, 2006.

Thanks to NOAA's commitment to critical training and new equipment, the IMET program will be even more prepared in its 91st year to respond to fire and all-hazards support requests.

To learn more about the IMET program, visit

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New Editions of Aware and The Front

In March, the NWS Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services (OCWWS) published new editions of two of its newsletters: Aware and The Front.

Aware is the NWS newsletter for the Emergency Management Community. Find the latest edition at

To subscribe to Aware, go to

The Front, published by the OCWWS Aviation Services Branch, offers articles on Aviation weather. Find the latest edition at

To subscribe to The Front, write and ask to be added to The Front list.

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Job Application Primer Offers Specific Advice on Selection Process

Editors' Note: The attached document is a combined effort of the NWS Regional Deputy Directors.

The job selection process seems to be a mystery to many National Weather Service (NWS) employees. How many of us have applied for a job but not fully understood the selection process? The following is an attempt to de-mystify the process and provide advice on applying for jobs.

Where to Find Vacancy Announcements

To find vacancies for federal government jobs, go to the USAJOBS web site, The USAJOBS site has a feature that will send you email notice of vacancies of your choice. At the USAJOBS site click on My USAJOBS and follow the instructions.

An Interesting Job

You've found a job you're interested in. What do you do next? READ THE VACANCY ANNOUNCEMENT VERY CAREFULLY. Are you sure this is a position you're interested in? Read the duty description a few times to make sure. Are you sure the position is in a location you're comfortable with? Did you discuss the location with your significant other? Don't wait until you're offered the job to research the local community, school system, taxes, etc. Turning down a job offer is very disconcerting to all involved. Your judgment will be questioned if you apply for a job, are offered the job, and then turn it down. Obviously if something major changed in your life that would cause you not to accept the position, you should clearly articulate this. ... Read the entire article here.

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Recent NWS Obituaries

Forrest Wayne Johns, 69, of Fort Smith, AR, died Feb. 25, 2006. He was born Jan. 20, 1937 in Lowell to Lawrence Raymond and Alice Bernice Burch Johns.

He was a retired meteorologist from the National Weather Service after 50 years of service. During his career, he worked in Korea, Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska and Arkansas and he also served in the Air Force.

Survivors include his wife Mary Ann Johns; one son, Michael R. Johns of Little Rock; one daughter, Janet L. Willcutt of Lowell; one brother, Jimmie Johns of Lake Wylie, SC; one sister, Carolyn Vanhook of Lowell; and five grandchildren.

Memorials may be made to Faith United Methodist Church, 2901 Massard Road, Fort Smith, 72903; Mercy Hospice, 5401 Ellsworth Road, P. O. Box 17000, Fort Smith, 72917; or the Forrest W. Johns Memorial Scholarship in Meteorology which is being established at Oklahoma University, for details call (479) 452-8696 or (405) 808-0805.

Roderick Arthur Scofield, 63, died February 25, 2006.

Dr. Scofield's professional career included research positions with the NWS Meteorological Development Lab and most recently in the NESDIS Office of Research and Applications.

He specialized in flash flood forecasting techniques, and his research led him to develop the Scofield-Oliver technique, which has been credited with saving thousands of lives by improving severe weather warnings. He conducted many training workshops for the NWS and was the author of more than 175 papers.

In 1986 he earned the National Weather Association award for outstanding contributions to operational meteorology through continuing research. In 1989, he received a Commerce Bronze Medal. In 1999, he received the Francis W. Reichelderfer Award of the American Meteorological Society, the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal and the NOAA Group Bronze Medal (which he also received in 2001). He served as president of the National Weather Association in 2000.

Survivors include his wife of 41 years, Joyce Wiedmar Scofield of Pomfret, MD; three children, Michelle Eileen Preil of Louisville, KY; Matthew Roderick Scofield of Churchton, MD, and Brett Edward Scofield of Bowling Green, KY; a brother; and two grandchildren. (Source: The Washington Post)

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Annual NWS Golf Outing Will Benefit Local Charity

Make your plans now to attend the 21st Annual Central Region/National Weather Service Golf Outing and help a local charity in the process. This year's golf outing will be held June 19-23, 2006, in East Dubuque, IL, at Lacoma Golf Club.

After seeing the devastation from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year, event organizers wanted to use this gathering of NWS employees to help with weather outreach and education activities. To accomplish this, the golf scrambles planned for June 20 and 21 will be open to the general public and a portion of the entry fees will be donated to the local Red Cross chapter. Weather safety brochures and severe weather information will also be on display and available for participants. This event will allow golfers from the general public to be paired with current and former NWS employees, allowing them to informally ask questions and learn more about the NWS and become better prepared for severe weather.

This event is open to all NWS/NOAA golfers nationwide, active and retired, and to their family members and guests. Attendees can play in a single day event or stay for the whole week and play each day. The East Dubuque area features plenty of sightseeing activities and family fun entertainment, as well as shopping, and event organizers are encouraging participants to bring the family and have fun while helping a local charity.

To learn more about the NWS golf outing or to register, visit the event website at

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NWS/NOAA Retirees Plan Picnic in Kansas

NWS retirees are holding a picnic Saturday, June 10, 2006, at Antioch Park, 6501 Antioch Road, Shawnee Mission, KS. Word is the person picking the date and time is the best forecaster among the group, but they have Shelter Number 3 reserved to protect against any stray raindrops.

The picnic runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and it's pot luck (each family should bring either a covered dish of meat, salad, vegetables or dessert. Also bring service items and drinks for your family members. Coffee and water will be provided.)

Old photographs, memorabilia, and display items are welcomed.

Antioch Park is accessible from Antioch Road-which runs N-S just east of I-35 Highway, and just south of Shawnee Mission Parkway. In past years the group reserved the patio for the gathering, but now the patio is gone, so the new location is Shelter # 3.

If you have friends without Internet access, please contact them with the information-and urge them to come to the picnic. If you are unable to attend, send us a message to read that lets everyone know how and what you're doing these days. For more information Contact Don Whitman, 816-361-1956, or

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Employee Milestones

  • Click here to see NEW APPOINTMENTS/TRANSFERS to NWS through April 30, 2006.
  • Click here to see RETIREMENTS/DEPARTURES from NWS through April 30, 2006.
  • Click here to see NWS EMPLOYEES ACCOMPLISHMENTS through April 30, 2006.
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