| NOAA's NWS Focus
Responses to Employee Comments for NOAA Program Review
The NWS was asked
to respond to 45 employee comments made to Undersecretary of Commerce
for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, retired Navy
Vice Adm. Conrad Lautenbacher, Jr., Ph.D., when he initiated a
Read the NWS
responses here. You can also find the document of comments
and responses on the NWS
Employee Best Practices web site.
Each NWS response
describes the current status and, where appropriate, actions taken
or planned in response to the recommendation.
Available for Wind Damage Assessments
A new guide for conducting
wind damage assessments is available to help NWS staff assess damage
from a violent tornado.
"A Guide to F-Scale Damage Assessment," was developed by the
NWS Office of Climate, Water, and Weather Services based on a
recommendation from the service assessment of the April 28, 2002,
LaPlata, MD, tornado outbreak.
The service assessment team suggested the need for a standard
reference since Weather Forecast Office (WFO) staff only receive
training on assessing wind damage one time, and because violent
F4 and F5 tornadoes are extremely rare, people have very few first-hand
opportunities to view storm damage of this magnitude.
The new 101-page, full-color guide has been posted
in PDF format on the Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM)
Resource Center web site to give WCMs and other NWS staff immediate
access to the information before the printed version becomes available
later in the spring.
"I am very excited about this new guide, which was prepared
to help train and assist our field WCMs in performing more accurate
and reliable F-scale ratings and post-storm damage surveys," said
Stephan Kuhl, National WCM Program Manager who coordinated NWS
Headquarters efforts in developing the guide. "NWS personnel who
assess post-storm damage to determine final wind storm intensity
will find this guide extremely useful."
The guide was developed through close collaboration between
the NWS, private sector meteorologists, wind engineers, and the
Kuhl said 500 copies of the guide are being printed and should
be sent to Regional Headquarters by early May. Each region will
then forward copies to local WFOs.
Identifies Digital Forecast Database as Key Piece in Future Partnerships
By Wendy Levine
NWS Strategic Planning and Policy Office
"The National Digital Forecast Database [NDFD] is a major undertaking
with major benefits."
This statement was made by John Armstrong, Chair of the National
Research Council's (NRC's) Committee on Partnerships in Weather
and Climate Services, at the February 2003 annual meeting of the
American Meteorological Society in Long Beach, CA. Armstrong briefed
of a NOAA-commissioned study performed by the NRC to examine
the public-private-academic partnership for providing weather
and climate services in the United States.
The report concludes that the partnership is "basically sound,
functioning well, and serving the needs of the Nation," and recognizes
the key role that NDFD will play in future provision of NWS products
and services, as well as the advantages NDFD will bring to our
private sector partners.
One of the NRC's basic recommendations is for the NWS to continue
activities essential to its mission, including unrestricted access
to publicly-funded forecasts and related information products
in a timely manner and at the lowest possible cost to users. The
NDFD will improve the NWS's ability to provide forecasts in convenient
forms, including digital, tabular, image, graphics, and other
types of visual displays.
The NRC also recommends that NWS make its data and products available
in Internet-accessible digital form. For the first time, human-generated
meteorological forecasts will be available via the Internet in
- NDFD is Internet-accessible;
- the data are in a widely-recognized standard; and
- the data can be used by all interested parties in the weather
and climate enterprise.
"The NDFD will allow the private meteorological sector to flourish,"
said Bob Glahn, NWS's Interactive Forecast Preparation
(IFPS) Program Manager. "The database will provide 'raw material'
for a substantial increase in the number and types of products
and services that can be produced and marketed to those who require
specialized services." The NRC report asserts that by providing
access to digital data not currently available in standard products,
the NDFD will improve the ability of all the sectors to produce
high-quality weather services, particularly as temporal and spatial
The IFPS and NDFD present enormous opportunities, but they also
present a unique challenge. According to the NRC, the NWS headquarters
and regional managers should learn to balance respect for local
innovation and creativity with greater control over activities
that affect the public-private partnership. Such an activity might
be the implementation of a new product or service.
The existence of IFPS and a digital forecast database fosters
local creativity for developing new products and services - this
is a wonderful asset, but one which must be carefully managed.
Directive 10-102 is a start to managing this process.
One of the objectives of the NRC study is to assess the impact
of scientific and technological advances on the public-private-academic
partnership. According to the NRC study, the NDFD is improving
access to data and forecasts in digital form and in databases,
offering much flexibility in how these data are used. Through
the database, users will be able to: download only the information
they need; combine different data; and manipulate the data to
form new data and products.
"In the future, the NDFD may include observations and analyses,
as well as forecasts from local offices and NCEP," predicts Glahn.
The study report concludes that these improvements will greatly
increase the number of opportunities for the private sector to
provide value-added products and create new services.
The use of IFPS in operations and our ability to produce a quality
NDFD for our users, will help NWS to play an important role in
the critical partnerships supporting the U.S. weather and climate
enterprise. IFPS and NDFD are fostering improvements both in NWS
products and services, as well as advancing the opportunities
for our partners. The net effect is sure to be seen as positive
to our broad spectrum of users.
Adds Locality Pay To 2003 Federal Raise
President Bush signed
an Executive order on March 21, 2003, to implement retroactive locality
pay increases costing approximately 1 percent of payroll. Pay will
be retroactively adjusted from the pay period which began January
12, 2003. The Office of Personnel Management has posted new 2003
pay tables to reflect
Together to Save Lives:
Advanced Weather Spotter Training Session Draws Hundreds
More than 300 people
attended the March 15, 2003, Indiana-Michigan-Ohio Skywarn Association's
Advanced Weather Spotter Training Session in Elkhart, IN. Thanks
to efforts of the Association and the Northern Indiana Weather Forecast
Office (WFO), participants learned more about severe weather and
how their reports aid NWS's warning decision process.
WFO Senior Meteorologist Sam Lashley spoke about the warning
process and how timely and accurate Skywarn reports lead to more
timely and accurate severe weather warnings. Video of a simulated
severe weather event provided a unique perspective on the interaction
between the storm spotter and the NWS, including the need for
timely and accurate spotter reports.
Other featured speakers in the day-long session included Charles
A. Doswell, Senior Research Scientist Cooperative Institute for
Mesoscale Meteorological Studies; David Arnold, Associate Professor
Ball State University; and Chris Novy, an amateur radio operator
and seasoned storm chaser. Severe weather awareness and safety
were recurring themes during the presentations.
Warning Coordination Meteorologist Steve Eddy and Senior Meteorologist
Patrick Murphy assisted the Skywarn group in planning the event.
"This event helped educate people about the valuable contributions
Skywarn spotters make to the NWS and we were able to show our
appreciation for their dedication," Murphy said. "The Veterans
Day weekend tornado outbreak is a prime example we cite to emphasize
how timely reports by Skywarn spotters help us focus our warning
Murphy said the NWS educated the experienced spotters on the
aspects of NWS severe weather operations and the contributions
of volunteer Skywarn observers. An NWS exhibit showcased NOAA
Weather Radio, spotter and safety brochures, and a simulated tornado
in a box. A dramatic slide show featuring tornado footage and
damage photos from the Veterans Day weekend tornado outbreak drew
many to the NWS booth.
Security Establishes Secure Emergency Web Site for Employees
A new NOAA Homeland
Security site is now online at https://www.emergency.noaa.gov
for NOAA employees only. Employees need their NOAA user name and
e-mail password to visit the site for emergency direction, preparedness
guides, up-to-date advisories regarding risk and the operating
status of the federal government. The site also provides important
to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency
Management Agency, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
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
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