WFO HYDROLOGIC FORECAST SYSTEM (WHFS)
The WFO Hydrologic Forecast System (WHFS) is an integrated set of tools residing on AWIPS which have been designed to perform the hydrologic operations at National Weather Service offices. The system was developed and is supported by the Office of Hydrology at NWS headquarters. The intent of the system is to provide all of the information required to support the operational needs of the hydrology program, on the same workstation used to meet meteorological program needs. Having the information on the AWIPS workstations will eliminate the need for NWS operational personnel to search for and utilize files, binders, and other archives while attending to the office's hydrologic program.
Three primary applications make up WHFS: HydroBase, HydroView, and RiverPro. These applications are used to manage the database, monitor and analyze data and situations, and generate products, respectively. The WHFS tools are accessed through an interactive graphical user interface (GUI) on AWIPS. These GUIs give the user to access a series of menus which allow the user to interact with the applications to perform tasks. WHFS is designed so that the users do not need to know UNIX or INFORMIX in order to use the applications. However, some UNIX and INFORMIX knowledge is helpful in troubleshooting the system.
Resident training was supplied to two persons from each WFO when WHFS was being deployed, with the intention that these individuals would provide on station training to the rest of the staff. In addition, "delta" training is planned for all sites as significant changes are made to the applications. The "delta" training is provided through distant learning. Each office has received several copies of the WHFS Operational User's Guide and Training Manual. This manual provides a reference for how to use the applications and should be reviewed prior to operating WHFS.
The following sections describe the utility of each of the three main applications of WHFS. Also included is a section on data flow and handling and a section on troubleshooting and support.
HydroView (Hydrologic Data Viewing System)
HydroView is the key operational component of WHFS, allowing the user to monitor and analyze hydrologic situations. This application allows the user to view observational data from all locations defined in the database, reference data for river forecast points, and examine the Catalog of Dams. This application also contained a flash flood threat assessment tool.
The default screen in HydroView is a geographical display of the hydrologic service area. Observational data for a wide variety of parameters can be displayed in this manner for all locations in the database. The operator has control of how the data is displayed as well as the exact type of data displayed. In addition, this display can be used to view areal data such as radar precipitation estimates and mean areal precipitation. The areal display is also where the flash flood threat assessment tool is located. The user can also select various background information to be displayed such as rivers, highways, counties, etc.
Data may also be displayed in a graphical time series. All parameters can be displayed in this manner. The time series for two parameters can be displayed simultaneously. The user can also control the source of the data for those locations with more than one sensor for a given parameter. Time series data for stage can include forecast data as well as observed data. Flood categories are also displayed on the time series.
A tabular display of data is also available. This display provides a view of data for a selected parameter in chronological order. This display also provides a means of adding, deleting or editing observed data. This is the only location in WHFS which allows access to the observational database.
The final display of observed data is the river profile. This display provides a view of the status and latest observation for all locations along a selected river. This display is useful in monitoring an entire river.
HydroView also provides a menu system to allow the user to access the reference database for all river forecast points. This menu allows the user to access information about flood categories, historical crests, impacts, and persons to contact for each river forecast point.
HydroView contains an accessible copy of the Catalog of Dams. The user can view information about a particular dam, including some basic dam failure information.
HydroBase (Hydrologic Database Manager)
HydroBase is the component of the system which permits the management of the reference portion of the database. Adding, deleting, and editing of hydrometeorological data collection and river forecast data locations are handled within HydroBase. HydroBase consists of a series of pull down menus which allow for interacting with the information within the reference database.
Much of the data contained in the reference database can be accessed from the other applications of WHFS. The use of HydroBase is intended for maintenance of the database and not for operational use. Since the other applications of WHFS rely on the databases, it is recommended that access to this application be restricted at each station.
HydroBase provides the tools used to control the operational database used by WHFS. The data ingest filter and data range settings can be manipulated from within this component of WHFS. However, HydroBase does not allow for interacting with the specific observations, i.e. stage data, contained in operational database.
HydroBase also provides menus for modifying the Catalog of Dams. Dams can be added or deleted. In addition, information from different dam failure scenarios can be added for viewing from within HydroView.
HydroBase also allows the user to produce various reports related to a station's hydrology program. Reports which can be produced include WS Form E-3 (Flood Stage Report) and WS Form E-19 (Report on River Station). Reports can be viewed, or printed from the HydroBase application.
RiverPro (Hydrologic Product Formatter)
RiverPro is the product formatter application component of WHFS which is used for creating hydrologic products for river forecast points. This application utilizes observed data, reference data, and forecast guidance to automatically create products for public dissemination. The application provides a great deal of flexibility in the format and content of the products. This flexibility comes at a price, however. The specific content of the products is controlled by a series of templates. The templates must be customized to fit the customer needs of each office, this is the price of the flexibility.
A product (always the most severe) is recommended each time RiverPro is opened. This recommendation is based on maximum observed stages, forecasts, and previously issued products. The recommendation will include the type of recommended product and the forecast points to be included in it. The recommendation can be overruled by the forecaster by selecting another product and/or selecting or deselecting forecast points to be included.Reference data for all forecast points can be viewed from within the RiverPro application. Information such as flood categories, impacts, crest histories, and persons to contact is available for view. Observational and forecast data is also available for view in table form from within the application. All of this information can be used by the forecaster in deciding what product to issue, which points the product should contain, and what information to include for each product.
The forecaster can then have RiverPro create a product. The created product is then displayed on the screen in a text editor. The forecaster can review the product, edit it if necessary, and then either chose to issue it or save it for later retrieval and editing.
WHFS Data Flow and Handling
The WHFS software tools utilize observed hydrometeorological data, a reference data set, and forecast guidance from the River Forecast Centers contained in the AWIPS INFORMIX database. The observed hydrometeorological data is fed into the INFORMIX database from one of two sources: the AWIPS Satellite Broadcast Network (SBN) or the Local Data Acquisition and Dissemination Systems (LDADS). The SBN provides nationally collected data such as: GOES DCP data, SNOTEL data, RFC guidance, etc. LDADS provides data which has been collected on site (ALERT, telephone telemetry, etc.) or sent to a site by a cooperator. The reference data set originated from the station's Service Hydrologist Information Management System (SHIMS) database. This data set can be manipulated by the HydroBase application discussed earlier.
Data from the SBN is sent to a directory which contains an ingest filter. This filter allows designated products to be sent to the directory where the SHEF decoder can act on them. The ingest filter prevents unwanted data from being decoded and saves computer resources. Data coming through LDADS will be scrutinized by the LDADS decoder. If the data is in SHEF code, it will be sent to the directory for SHEF decoding. If the data is in another form, the LDADS decoder will convert it to a comma separated value (csv) format. The csv format will then be SHEF encoded and sent to the directory for SHEF decoding.
Troubleshooting and WHFS Support
WFO personnel are not expected to become proficient in fixing "bugs" in WHFS. However, it is advantageous for Hydrology Program Managers (HPM) to become proficient in isolating system problems. WHFS contains a number of log files and directories which can aid in determining problems with the system. The User's Guide and Training Manual contains some information about the directories where these logs reside. The Manual should also contain some information describing how to check to see if the SHEF decoder is running. By examining these sources of information, the HPM will be able to assist the WHFS support personnel in resolving problems, when they are contacted.
Support for the WHFS package is supplied by a group within the Hydrologic Operation Division of the Office of Hydrology. To contact the group, please use the following:
The group can be reached at (301)713-0624 (Monday - Friday 8am to 5pm ET)
Jeff Zimmerman (Group Leader) - ext 153
Ernie Wells - ext 133
Ken Mack - ext 209
Jennifer Hill-Maxwell - ext 135
For off hours assistance, contact the NCF. If the NCF cannot resolve the problem and it is operationally important, request that they contact one of the WHFS support group for you. A support group member will be "on call" at all times. The group may be contacted for any problems encountered with WHFS.