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NOAA's NWS Focus
July 11, 2006 View Printer Friendly Version


Question on Service Evolution Initiatives
- NCEP's Environmental Modeling Center Unveils New National Forecast Model
- Partners Meeting Covers Range of Topics and Issues
- NCEP Hosts Visit by Maryland Senator Mikulski
- 2005 Fire Weather Report Available
- Being Prepared for the Next Disaster in Alabama

- NWS Promotes Weather Safety with Cleveland Indians and WKYC-TV
- Forecast Office and Partners Offer NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards Programming Drive
- Recent NWS-Related Obituaries

- Employee Milestones

- Snapshots

Don Drew, a Lead Forecaster at NOAA/NWS Forecast Office in Juneau, AK, recently achieved his 25th anniversary and his 1,200th radio show as a volunteer broadcaster at KTOO-FM, Juneau's public radio station. Drew hosts the very popular "Mule Train" show which plays "real country music" and bluegrass every Tuesday from 9 p.m. to midnight. The show debuted in March 1981, making his one of the longest continuous programs at KTOO. In recognition of the occasion, Drew and his band, "The Wild Pioneers," mixed in live songs in the studio with his trademark music from the 1940's, 50's, and 60's. On the occasion of his 1200th broadcast, he was highlighted in a feature story in the Juneau Empire newspaper. Originally from New York, and a graduate of Rutgers University, Drew is well known in southeast Alaska music circles. He is a respected ambassador for NOAA's National Weather Service and he's rumored to be the best dressed person in the WFO. Photo by Brian Wallace, Juneau Empire.

Straight Talk:
Question on Service Evolution Initiatives

Dear General Johnson,

The opportunity to explore and derive new ways to improve the efficiency and quality of our services is exciting.  I would like to emphasize how very important it will be to seek lots of input directly from forecasters in the field offices during this process.  We are in an ideal position to know what kinds of modifications can best enhance our mission since we are intimately involved in the forecast process on a daily basis, and most familiar to the unique challenges of our local forecast areas.  Many of us would like to participate in the evolution of the National Weather Service given the opportunity.  I look forward to becoming involved.

Mark Bloomer, Journeyman, NWS Caribou, ME.

Thanks for your comments Mark.

I firmly believe having field input is absolutely necessary to coming up with the right answer.  We've established Service Evolution Initiative teams, including management and union representatives, tasked with gathering that input, and garnering support as they work toward finding the right answer. 

Change is always a challenge – but we must evolve, adapt, remain relevant, lest we go the way of the dinosaurs.  America needs what we do – evolving "Services" is a way to support our customers even better.

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NCEP's Environmental Modeling Center Unveils New National Forecast Model

By Chris Vaccaro
NWS Headquarters Public Affairs

NOAA's Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), one of the nine offices within the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, has launched the new Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) system into operations. This is the first new national weather forecast system at NCEP since the creation of the Eta model more than a decade ago.

"WRF produces forecasts with much greater detail than its predecessor, the Eta model, and will lead to accelerated forecast improvements in coming years," said Stephen Lord, Ph.D., director of the Environmental Modeling Center. "WRF forecast fields will provide improved guidance for forecasters in populating the National Digital Forecast Database grids in the future."

Forecast precipitation valid at 12 UTC, 3 May 2006 from the previous NAM-Eta and from the new NAM-WRF.  The NAM-WRF produces much more detail and larger rainfall amounts overall for this case.

WRF was developed by a 20-member team at EMC. The model itself was developed by Dr. Zavisa Janjic, while the data assimilation system was developed by the EMC Data Assimilation Team. Parts of the WRF system were developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research and NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory, Global Systems Division.

Earlier versions of the WRF model have been available for limited weather applications, such as high-resolution severe weather and mesoscale ensemble forecasts, but now the WRF is producing operational forecasts of day-to-day weather for the entire U.S.

"Universities can now use this operational system for research purposes, whereas before they could not, and this now meets the needs of universities for a modern mesoscale forecast system," added Lord.

WRF features options that can be configured for use by the U.S. research community and, for the first time, the model's code is being used by both the research and operational communities. This is a result of a major strategic initiative for the National Weather Service, called community modeling, which will result in a streamlined process for transitioning research advancements into operational forecast systems.

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Partners Meeting Covers Range of Topics and Issues

NWS hosted about three dozen constituents for a Partners Meeting June 6, 2006, in Silver Spring, MD.  Attendees included TV weathercasters, academia, private sector companies, government agencies, and emergency managers.

Candid exchanges about the public/private partnership were shared by several speakers during a Listening Panel chaired by Brig. Gen. D.L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), NOAA Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and NWS Director.  

Among the topics raised by these partners included NWS procedures for testing and implementing new products, discussion of what the NWS should and should not be doing, the autonomy of the NWS Regions and the challenge of getting the Regions and local offices to follow agreed-upon policies and procedures, and NOAA's draft public/private partnership policy.  NWS also got compliments for overall improvements in data distribution and the initial NWS Service Improvement Plan distributed in 2004.

The meeting began with a greeting from the NWS Director, and he participated in each of the morning sessions.

The Public/Private Sector Policy dominated much of the meeting's discussions.  Technical and service panelists took questions and comments from attendees.  Another question was asked about the aviation initiative, including the future of the CWSUs and aviation forecasting.

NWS Training Division Chief Percy Thomas said participants were actively involved and were pleased with the dialogs at the workshop, and they offered ideas for improving NWS/Partner communications further.  One suggestion was to lead discussions and to increase two-way communication.  Among the other topics covered at the meeting included a new hurricane product and Probabilistic Wind Speeds.

A Family of Services meeting, relating to data communication line services for sharing U.S. Government obtained or derived weather information, closed out the day.

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NCEP Hosts Visit by Maryland Senator Mikulski

The NWS National Centers for Environmental Prediction recently hosted a visit to NCEP Headquarters in Camp Springs, MD, by Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), the senior Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. 

NCEP staff welcomes Senator Barbara Mikulski during her visit to NCEP Headquarters. Click here for more photos of her visit. Photo by Ronald Bell, Department of Commerce.

During the senator's visit she received a demonstration of hurricane models and learned about the roles of the NWS and NCEP centers.

"I'm so proud of NOAA's Weather Service, which is critical to protecting people, their homes and their property," said Senator Mikulski.  "The Nation depends on the Weather Service to help local weather forecasters get it right so our citizens can secure their property and get their families out of harms way."

"Our industry and our economy depend on NOAA.  One-third of our gross domestic product (GDP) is weather sensitive -- $3 trillion.  That's why I'm fighting in the US Senate to make sure NOAA is a priority in the federal checkbook so we have the funding needed for the latest technology to keep improving our weather forecasts."

Senator Mikulski voiced similar support during a Senate hearing on NOAA's role in forecasting and warning about hurricanes.  Read the Senator's full news release here.

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2005 Fire Weather Report Available

The NWS has released its 2005 Fire Weather Report.

The report gives an overview of the 2005 fire climatology and a summary of large scale fire incidents which affected the nation during 2005. It details incidents which support was provided by Incident Meteorologists, including an extensive section of statistics on the Incident Meteorologist program.  The report also contains statistics on 2005 National Red Flag Warning verification.

The report can be found online at:

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Being prepared for the Next Disaster in Alabama

Lead Forecaster, Faith Borden, from the Birmingham, AL, Weather Forecast Office, was one of the keynote speakers for the First Annual Alabama VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) Conference held in Montgomery at the end of May. 

Over 150 people from dozens of faith-based and non faith-based service organizations gathered to share ideas, network, and learn from each other on how to be better prepared and ready to activity when a disaster strikes.  Borden covered topics including:  "Who is the National Weather Service and where your watches and warnings come from."  She also covered "Severe weather in Alabama -- it happens any time of the year;" and gave the outlook for the 2006 Hurricane Season.

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NWS Promotes Weather Safety with Cleveland Indians and WKYC-TV

Gary Garnet, Warning Coordination Meteorologist in Cleveland, OH, joined forces with the Cleveland Indians and WKYC TV in preparing a Weather Education Day on May 2 and May 18 prior to the Cleveland Indian's games.  Other organizations such as NASA and the International Women's Air and Space Museum participated in the event and rounded out the Weather Safety team. 

NOAA's National Weather Service Gary Garnet, Warning Coordination Meteorologist in Cleveland joined forces with the Cleveland Indians and WKYC TV in preparing a Weather Education Day on May 2 and May 18 prior to the Cleveland Indians games. Slider the team mascot for the Indians assisted Mr. Garnet with safety positions. Slider was seen demonstrating the lightning safe position as well as the tornado safe position.

Over 14,000 students throughout northern Ohio arrived at the game early to receive weather education by Gary Garnet and his side kick "Slider" the Indian mascot. The weather team educated the students on the fundamentals of temperature, wind and pressure. The team demonstrated the impacts of weather on the flight of a baseball and the importance of weather to game operations. Mr. Garnet presented a detailed weather safety section which included lightning, tornado and flood safety.  Slider, the team mascot for the Indians, assisted Mr. Garnet with safety positions. Slider was seen demonstrating the lightning safe position as well as the tornado safe position.

The safety presentation was given from the top of the dugout as the students looked on from their seats in Jacobs Field.  Safety slides and video clips were displayed on the giant scoreboard in the outfield.

"I covered tornado, lightning, and flash flood safety.  I emphasized the importance of lightning safety with every storm, not just severe storms.  Students need to understand they are a high risk group when it comes to lightning strikes because of the numerous outdoor activities they are involved in," said Garnet.

As a special surprise, Garnet was as asked to throw out the game's ceremonial first pitch.  As 22,000 fans looked on, Garnet was interviewed about weather safety before tossing out the first pitch.

"The Indians surprised me with the honor of throwing the ceremonial first pitch," Garnet said.  "I had no idea until an hour before the game that I was selected.  It gave me an added opportunity to briefly talk about weather safety to the crowd as I took the long walk to the mound and let it rip.  It sure seemed like a long way.  In case you're wondering if it was a strike, it wasn't.  I was so worried about throwing it short that I nearly threw it over the catcher's head!"

"The Cleveland Indians and WKYC TV were excellent partners for this event.  Both organizations realize the importance of weather safety and are committed to help educate the public," Garnet said at the end of this very successful outreach event.

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Forecast Office and Partners Offer NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards Programming Drive

Barbara Marlow and Jeff Johnson of WFO Des Moines, IA, help customers during the NOAA Weather Radio programming drive on May 6, 2006.

The Des Moines, IA, Weather Forecast Office (WFO), local Hy-Vee grocery stores, and KCCI-TV teamed up to offer a public service to program NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) receivers in central Iowa.  The NWR programming drives were held at seven central Iowa Hy-Vee locations in April and May, 2006.  Several hundred radios were programmed during three different programming drives.

Hy-Vee and KCCI-TV collaborated on a joint promotion to sell Midland NWR receivers at a discounted price this spring. WFO Des Moines joined by offering to give the customers an opportunity to have their radios programmed.  In addition to programming, customers were shown how the radios worked and the type of information that would be broadcasted.  The programming drive was open to any NWR receiver.

KCCI-TV promoted the programming drive by announcing it during their nightly weather broadcasts and severe weather television special.  The station also broadcast live from the stores the evening before the event. 

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Recent NWS-Related Obituaries

Johnny S. Wallace, 60, April 5, 2006.  Data Acquisition Program Manager (DAPM) at WFO Lubbock, TX.  Johnny earned an Associates Degree from Tarrant County Junior College and served in the U.S. Air Force, during the Vietnam War, from 1966-1970.  After his dedication and service with the military, in 1970, Johnny began a long and distinguished career with the National Weather Service.  In addition to countless personal awards and recognitions, in 2000 Johnny was selected as the first DAPM at WFO Lubbock, TX – and will remain the only individual to serve in that specific NWS position for the office.  Johnny held various positions across the NWS Southern Region, including offices in Waco, San Antonio, and Fort Worth, TX and Columbus, GA. 

He is survived by his wife Priscilla Wallace of Lubbock; three sons, David Wallace of Lubbock, Bryan Brown of Lubbock, Jessie Brown and wife Celeste of Waco, and a brother Jerry Wallace of Dallas.  A memorial service was held Monday, April 10, 2006, at the Resthaven Funeral Home and Cemetery in Lubbock, TX.  A plaque was created in honor of Johnny, and resides at the WFO in Lubbock. 

The following message was inscribed:  “He was a man for all seasons with warmth and caring who will greatly be missed.”  The WFO in Lubbock also created a website as a tribute to Johnny. 

Please visit:

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Employee Milestones

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