|NOAA's NWS Focus
4 , 2003
Kansas National Guard Military
Technician Mark Reasoner (right) presents a certificate
of appreciation to Meteorologist-In-Charge Scott
Mentzer of the NWS Goodland, KS, Weather Forecast
Office. The certificate from the National
Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and
Reserve recognizes the WFO for being a supportive
employer, enabling NWS employees to participate
in the Guard and Reserve.
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
Climate Partnership Report Published by National Research
A year-long study on
the public-academic-private partnership for providing U.S. weather
and climate services supports the National Weather Service mission
and concludes that the partnership is basically sound, functioning
well, and serving the needs of the Nation.
than conflict, appears to be the normal mode of operation," the
study authored by a National Research Council committee noted. "Despite
occasional friction, the three-sector system works," wrote
committee chair John A. Armstrong in a letter about the report
to Jack Kelly. Armstrong added, "The committee judges this
friction to be an acceptable price to pay for excellent weather
services" but also recommends that partners work harder to
lessen the friction. The study recommends that the NWS be more
open in decision-making, and seek more input from all interested
partners and the public.
"The study is a
must read for everyone who is serious about making the Nation's
weather and climate enterprise a success," said Ed Johnson,
Director, Strategic Planning and Policy Office.
"At times, our employees
are uncertain about what they can and can't do within the public-private
partnership. Some have worried that the weather service mission
would be changed to exclude basic forecasting," said Johnson. "This
study confirms our mission and shifts our focus to working
better with all of our partners."
Each NWS office
and center will receive a publication copy of the 150-page
report when it is available in about two months. A pre-publication
copy of the report is available online at http://www.nap.edu/books/0309087465/html/.
Following are some
- The committee
rejected defining rigid roles for each sector as counterproductive;
- The NWS should
replace its 1991 public-private partnership policy of defined
roles with a policy that defines processes for making decision
on products, technologies, and services;
- NWS should seek
advice from users and representatives of the public, academic,
and private sectors on weather and climate matters;
- NWS headquarters
and regional managers should develop an approach to managing
the local forecast offices that balances a respect for local
innovation and creativity with greater control over the activities
that affect the public-private partnership, especially those
that concern the development and dissemination of new products
The study, "Fair
Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services," published
January 30, 2003, was prepared by a panel of respected experts
from inside and outside the meteorological community and chaired
by Armstrong, former Senior Vice-President for Science and
Technology at IBM.
are links to some news coverage of the report's release:
Editors' Note: The NWS is counting down
towards national implementation of the Interactive Forecast
Preparation System (IFPS). Bob Glahn, IFPS Program Manager,
provides the current status of the effort to change the way
NWS forecasts are produced. Glahn's article begins a series
of NOAA's NWS Focus stories covering topics relating to IFPS
and the National Digital Forecast Database.
Months and Counting:
Forecast Preparation System Taking Root at Forecast
By Bob Glahn
IFPS Program Manager
IFPS is on track!
We set September 30, 2003 for our Initial Operating Capability
(IOC) for the continental United States (CONUS) about a year
and a half ago. Although there is much work to do, I see
nothing to keep us from making that goal. We will follow
with the Alaska and Pacific Regions three months later.
The National Digital
Forecast Database (NDFD) concept was born later than IFPS--a
little over two years ago. Making a quality mosaic from the
input of many WFOs is a challenge, but we are making excellent
progress. We are committed to providing temperature and probability
of precipitation (PoP) grids out to 72 hours by IFPS IOC;
actually, we should be able to do more.
of IFPS IOC is simple--all WFOs will produce the grids necessary
to automatically compose ten basic NWS text products and
will produce those products with software (formatters):
- Zone Forecast
- Coded Cities
- Tabular & Narrative
Fire Weather Forecasts (FWF)
- National Fire
Danger Rating System Forecast (FWM)
- Coastal Waters
- Great Lakes
Open Lakes Forecast (GLF)
- Nearshore Forecast
- Marine Verification
- Service Area
- Tabular State
We also will make
the local grids available to customers and partners. Of course,
many things must happen to accomplish this: staff must be
trained, forecast offices must make shift changes to support
the new operations concept, and forecasters must embrace
the paradigm shift to this new method of forecast preparation.
A critical element
of IFPS success is to have software that will compose information
from the local database (grids) into text products. To do
this, WFO staff can use the AWIPS baseline formatters developed
by the Meteorological Development Laboratory (MDL), or they
can use locally-developed formatters based on templates developed
by the Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL). For instance, a
WFO can use the baseline formatter for the zone product and
a locally-developed formatter for the fire weather product,
or vice versa.
There were some
challenges in making thousands of local grids available.
We decided the most expeditious route, and one leading toward
producing national mosaics, was to send the local grids to
the NDFD server and disseminate them from there. So it became
imperative that the WFOs send their grids to the server for
IFPS IOC. Software was put in place to do that.
Most WFOs are
using IFPS but with varying degrees of training and experience.
In order to work out details of implementation, three prototype
areas consisting of 17 WFOs worked together with NCEP, and
their grids were produced and sent to the NDFD server; the
concepts they developed live on and are spreading across
the Nation. Currently, all WFOs are sending grids to the
These grids are
being pieced together into seamless mosaics which are available
for viewing by the forecasters on AWIPS. Recently, some of
these same mosaics were made
available for experimental use and feedback from customers
and partners. These are the local grids at 5-km resolution,
just put onto a national map. In addition to the CONUS grids,
there are 16 slightly overlapping "tiles" that contain the
same information for those not wanting, or able to handle,
the large grids.
Early on we recognized
that producing a "seamless" mosaic would require new operational
procedures be put in place. The NWS is using a three-step
approach to solving possible boundary discontinuities.
Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) has adjusted
operations to collaborate with the WFOs for a national mosaic.
HPC and the WFOs assess the overall weather situation for
the Nation and HPC distributes guidance to the WFOs to use
in adjusting their grids. This collaboration is crucial to
the process, and HPC has stepped up to the challenge. In
the words of Lynn Maximuk, Meteorologist-In-Charge (MIC)
at Pleasant Hill, MO, one of the prototype sites, "Having
HPC as an active participant early in the forecast collaboration
process has opened new doors to forecasters. The result has
been better, more consistent forecasts across time and space."
Next, the WFOs
collaborate among themselves concerning the specific forecasts
along their borders. Offices exchange grids and use collaboration
tools such as chat software to assist the process. Collaboration
between WFOs also is a critical step in the forecast preparation
process, and the WFO forecasters are rising to the challenge.
For the third
step, when the grids are received at the server, software
compares the boundary values, and the results are provided
in numeric and graphical form to the WFOs. This gives the
WFOs a chance to amend their grids before posting to the
In order to make
sure we are ready, a month-long Operational Readiness Demonstration
(ORD) is scheduled to start June 16, 2003, for the CONUS,
and one for Alaska and the Pacific three months later. An Integrated
Work Team (IWT) is working out the details and procedures
for the ORD for all regions. The team will also oversee the
ORD, report on findings, and insure any deficiencies are
corrected before the IOC dates. The ORD will be an official
test to make sure we are ready for the IFPS initial operating
capability. During this test, all WFOs will demonstrate IOC
readiness in all respects. Actually, we hope to be up and
running a month or so before the ORD.
To meet legal
requirements, the NWS must archive official products. We
are working out the details of this record retention process.
It requires the transfer and storage of large volumes of
data, and new procedures have to be worked out concerning
WMO headers and for switching in the Telecommunications Gateway.
All NWS components
recognize the tremendous benefits to the NWS and have responded
admirably. The NWS Training Center staff and the training
staff in the Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services
recognize the importance of training for this transition
and have allocated staff accordingly. HPC has shifted resources
and forecast methodologies to lead the large-scale collaborative
process. FSL has improved the graphical editing capability
to insure IOC success. The Office of Science and Technology's
MDL and Systems Engineering Center put together a process
to get software releases to the field much more often than
was possible before. The AWIPS Network Control Facility has
provided, with MDL, 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week support
to the process, and Northrop Grumman Information Technology
has superbly dealt with the more rapid release schedule.
Finally and most importantly, WFO forecasters led by their
MICs and regional headquarters are adjusting and accommodating
to difficult paradigm shifts and schedules to keep the NWS
relevant in its role of providing the best possible service
to the Nation.
New Weather Forecast Office and New Radar
The NWS marked two
milestones last week with the dedication of a new Weather Forecast
Office (WFO) in Alabama and a new radar in Indiana.
AL, is the 122nd WFO. Located in the National
Space Science and Technology Center (NSSTC) Annex at the
University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), the new WFO now
provides complete weather forecast and warning services for
the citizens of Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Jackson,
Colbert, Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Marshall, DeKalb, and
Cullman Counties. Transfer of the county warning areas from
Birmingham to Huntsville took place January 14, 2003.
NWS at the January 30, 2003, dedication
ceremony were NWS Deputy Director John Jones, NWS Southern
Region Headquarters Director Bill Proenza, and Huntsville Meteorologist-In-Charge
John Gordon. Also attending were U.S. Representatives Bud Cramer
and Robert Aderholt, who represent communities within the Huntsville
office's county warning area.
A new radar near Owensville,
IN, was dedicated on January 31, 2003. Data from the
new NWS Tri-State Doppler Radar near Owensville, IN, will
be used by forecasters at five NWS offices in four states
to provide the best possible forecasts and warnings to emergency
managers and the public. The radar will provide low-level
radar coverage to 70 counties: 30 in Illinois; 23 in Indiana;
and 17 in Kentucky.
John Hostettler, NOAA Deputy Assistant Secretary Timothy Keeney,
NWS Central Region Director Dennis McCarthy, Larry Ordner of
Senator Richard Lugar's office, and Andy Cullen of Senator
Evan Bayh's office attended the dedication, along with NWS
Paducah, KY, Weather Forecast Office (WFO) Meteorologist-In-Charge
New International Activities Director
Robert (Rob) Masters
assumed the position of Director of NWS's International Activities
Office on December 16, 2002. For the last 10 years, Masters
was Chief of the Satellite Activities Branch of the International
and Interagency Affairs Office at NESDIS.
"Rob is a great
asset to NOAA and we are glad to have him leading our International
Activities Office," said John Jones, NWS Deputy Director. "He's
widely known for his diplomacy, negotiation skills, and knowledge
of international affairs."
During a 20-year
tenure with NOAA, Masters has negotiated agreements with satellite
operators and instrument providers, and received three bronze
and two silver Department of Commerce medals. He's served as
Desk Officer for several countries such as Australia, France,
Africa, and the United Kingdom. As a Desk Officer, he provided
guidance to senior NOAA officials on topics relevant to those
areas including regional and national organizations, noteworthy
news and issues, and staffing issues. He worked with the World
Meteorological Organization to promote international partnerships
that furthered NOAA's mission world-wide.
with NOAA in 1982 as a Presidential Management Intern. He holds
degrees in public policy, international affairs, management,
and french law. Masters, who is married with seven children,
lives in Silver Spring, MD.
Program Opportunities Available
Full-time and part-time
training assignments at accredited educational facilities are
available through the 2003 University Assignment Program (UAP),
the Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services Training
Division announced recently. Employees selected for university
training assignments remain in their positions of record while
in training status.
"Employees who get
involved with the University Assignment Program can keep abreast
of advances in science and technology and other innovations
within their occupational fields," said Greg Mandt, OCWWS Director.
The program also enables employees to learn new skills or develop
and improve abilities needed in current or future positions.
Scientific and technological
advances require NWS employees (meteorologists, hydrologists,
computer specialists, and other professionals) to keep in step
with current knowledge in mesoscale meteorology, marine weather,
oceanography, hydrology, advanced numerical prediction, information
technology, and other job-related disciplines. Applicants may
also look to broaden their communication, interpersonal, leadership,
and managerial skills through the program.
deadline is February 21, 2003, and all Region Headquarters,
Centers, and NWSH Offices have the forms needed to apply for
the program. To apply for this program or for more information,
contact your supervisor and normal chain-of-command in your
Region or Office. NWS Headquarters contact is Michael.Dion@noaa.gov.
here to see NEW APPOINTMENTS/TRANSFERS to NWS through
January 31, 2003.
here to see RETIREMENTS/DEPARTURES from NWS through
January 31, 2003.
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