Tropical Operations and Configuration
Frequently Asked Questions
Office of Climate,
Water, and Weather Services
Forecast Decision Training Branch
Disclaimer and Privacy
2012 Season Changes
Impact Graphics Use Questions (including Surge issues)
Impact Graphics Configuration Questions
NWRWAVES Configuration Questions
Expressions of Uncertainty Questions
2012 Season Changes
Tropical Impact Graphics Procedure changes
- Now produces 4 Surge grids: SurgeHtPlusTide (normalized innundation), SurgeHtPlusTideWTopo (above MSL), SurgeHtPlusTideNAVD (in relation to NAVD88 datum) and SurgeHtPlusTideMLLW (in relation to Mean Low Level Water)
- Thanks to a new VDATUM data set which provides corrections from MSL to both NAVD88 and MLLW.
- Slider bars removed from the procedure interface
- Impact category threshholds are now fixed within the procedure code and have been adjusted down
- Extreme - greater than or equal to 7 ft
- High - greater than or equal to 5 ft up to 7 ft
- Moderate - greater than or equal to 3 ft up to 5 ft
- Low - greater than or equal to 1 ft up to 3 ft
- Very Low category was removed
- New edit area, StormSurgeWW_EditArea, is now required by the tool
- TCInlandFloodThreat and TCWindThreat
- Refreshed procedure interfaces
- Removed Very Low category
- Slider bars removed from, and more information added to, the procedure interface
- Very Low category was removed
- Adjusted Low impact threshold from 5% to 2%
Tropical Impact Graphics and gHLS Website Changes
- New TCIG website
- This website, which goes online in early June, will be the home of the impacts graphics. No HLS text will be shown here. This is where customers can get information on the potential impact levels and see definitions of what those impacts mean. The KML (aka Google Earth) version will be the default but the png images will still be available on this site. There will be a link to the old gHLS site as well for those who want to see the HLS text.
- Changed gHLS website
- This website is being modified to only display HLS text by zone via the mouseover. No grpahics will appear. This is the reason for the blank png graphic creation in the 2012 webapps package noted on the tropical wiki. This site will show the latest HLS Overview text below the CWA graphic and will allow a mouseover of the appropriate section text (Winds, Surge, Inland Flooding or Tornadoes). That section text will also show up below the Overview to make it Section 508 compliant. The TCIG page will also be linked on this site.
Expressions of Uncertainty Changes
- Removal of 20 kt wind speed threshold for extended periods
- During Hurricane Irene, some sites did not see the expressions of uncertainty triggered in the CWF and ZFP in the later periods despite being within the cone of uncertainty/needed wind speed probabilities. This was due to 20 kts or higher being required in the Wind grid along with the needed wind speed probs.
- Therefore the windSpdProb method in VectorRelatedPhrases was updated to remove the 20 kt requirement in the later periods for triggering the expressions of uncertainty.
- If you have an override of the windSpdProb, getPeriod_5_9_Desc, and/or getPeriod_10_14_Desc methods in your ZFP or CWF Overrides, they need to be removed. No site should have an override to the windSpdProb method anymore, but many sites could have overrides of the getPeriod methods.
- Adjustment of the Surge Impact level thresholds
- The HLS was adjusted to mirror the changes made to the TCIG surge thresholds, as noted above, so the 2 products will be in sync. Also, the Very Low threshold was removed from the Surge impact statements. This updated HLS will be provided in the OB9.9 install.
- Why do I have double PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS
wording in that section?
- This is due to the call-to-action markers that are
now required in all hazard products. If you recall, the CTA markers
were introduced last winter and took the form of PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS
ACTIONS..., followed by a blank line, then the CTA, another blank
line and closing with &&. The marker wording was taken from
the HLS as the customers felt it was a good indicator of CTAs. So
now the HLS is saddled with double wording for each P/P section -
one for the section header and the other for the CTA marker. Both
MUST remain in the final product each time they appear.
- Why am I not getting my previous section text when I select that option?
- Similarly to how the Import Text works, GFE needs the section headers to match exactly. So if you are changing a section header, say from WINDS AND SEAS to just WINDS, you will not be able to get the previous text for that section as the headers do not match. By the same token, if you change section headers from one run to the next (e.g. WINDS AND SEAS to WINDS or TORNADOES to TORNADOES AND WATERSPOUTS), you will be unable to import previous section text for that section in that segment.
Import Text from a flat file can be used instead. Just copy the previous section text into the pre-determined flat file name in the proper format.
- How do I handle a mix of NEW and CONtinued hazards in an HLS?
- While you will not be given the option to do an abbreviated from the Overview window, you will be forced into Abbreviated for those NEW segments. So to expedite the issuance of the NEW hazards, choose to import the previous text into all of the segments that are CONtinuing. In the Situation Overview, alert customers that a full HLS will be issued shortly, or give a time. Then just like in an Abbreviated issuance, as soon as this cursory HLS is issued, begin work on the full HLS which updates or adds all of the desired sections.
See the Tropical Jobsheets for more information on the steps required to accomplish this.
- If I have the same section information for all of the
segments, can I place it in the Overview instead?
- Yes, that can be done and is a good way to shorten the
- Deselect the section within EACH
of the segments in the third HLS window. This
ensures it will not be placed in the segments. For example, if you
have the same tornado information for each segment, deselect the Tornadoes
section within each segment before clicking OK to run the formatter.
Keep in mind this also means you cannot pull information in from an
external file or PIL.
- Add the information to the Situation Overview section in the Overview. So
in our Tornadoes example, once you have the formatter output in the
product editor, add information about the possible tornado/waterspout threat to the Situation Overview. This will also ensure that information is linked to the impact graphics as it includes the Situation Overview if there is no segment section with that header.
- How can I know what zones to expect from the NHC breakpoints?
- NWSHQ and NHC worked with the regions/WFOs to come up
with a list of zones that will be generated with the various breakpoint
segments. That file can be found here.
Look for your office and read the instructions at the top on how to determine
which zones will be included when there are multiple tropical hazards
happens when NHC wants a breakpoint that splits one of my zones?
- You can always ask the specialist to choose a different
breakpoint that more closely aligns with a zone boundary. But that is
not always possible. So all involved need to understand that in the cases
where the breakpoint falls within a zone, that zone will be grouped with
the higher threat (i.e HU vs TR or
W vs A).
- How can I effectively test the new HLS?
- You have two options. First and easiest is to place
GFE in PRACTICE
mode and use it as you would during an event. While you will not
have live data, the grids
can be manually created. In practice mode, nothing will leave your office as
only the GFE text infrastructure is used. More information on testing can be found on the tropical wiki page.
There is also a program
similar to the watchautomater that simulates the transmission of a TCV.
It can be accessed at http://www.weather.gov/os/training/tcv.tgz.
To use this program on the WES or AWIPS,
- Download the file and place
in dx4:/awips/GFESuite/primary as user ifps.
- tar -xzvf tcv.tgz
- cd tcv
- Read the tcvauomater_readme.txt and follow the instructions
- If you have any questions or problems, email Shannon.White@noaa.gov
- How can I correct a bad HLS?
- ALWAYS use GFE to edit and transmit
all HLSs. GFE VTEC products cannot be edited outside
of GFE or bad VTEC will result. Use the steps outlined here
to correct any text mistakes.
- For area, time or other VTEC mistakes, the grids
need to be corrected and a new HLS generated. While this is extra
work, it is necessary to get a valid product which will be properly disseminated.
Catching these mistakes before they are disseminated is also why having
multiple forecasters QC the HLS before transmitting is vitally important.
- What happens if the HLS formatter fails?
- Open a TT with the NCF. If you cannot generate an HLS during an actual event, also call Shannon White at 336-310-3032.
- Do Inland sites need to do anything differently than
coastal sites in setting up the HLS?
- Your configuration will not have the coastal and marine
zones that many sites will have, so you can substantially streamline your
configuration. An inland-specific configuration file is provided within
the HLS Configuration course in the LMS or can be accessed here.
The concept outlined in the file is also applicable to sites that do not
have inland zones.
- How do I get the correct ETN in my Hazard grid?
- You must override the OB9.3 version of MakeHazard to comment out the blank tcmList and uncomment the appropriate list for your basin.
Impact Graphics Use Questions
- Why are my latest segment sections not appearing with the graphics mouse over?
- The full HLS was not transmitted prior to running the gHLS script. Furthermore, the graphics package (make and send scripts) needs to be run with EVERY HLS update. Even if the impacts are not changing, running of the scripts is needed to update the timestamp and allow the most current HLS segment text to link to the graphics.
The text and image are paired as part of the internal script, not linked from the issued HLS. The script pulls the segment text from the latest HLS in the text database, so if you have not transmitted the FULL, not abbreviated, HLS you should not yet be running the graphics scripts. Furthermore, if the graphics are not updated and the HLS is, the mouseover text will be from the previous version when you last ran the graphics scripts. This could lead to customer confusion.
- Will there be storm surge data for each event?
- No. You are only guaranteed to have surge data for hurricanes, specifically when there is a warning. For tropical storms, it will only be done if there is a specific surge threat. If you are unsure if you should be receiving surge data in AWIPS, check the probabilistic surge website at http://www.weather.gov/mdl/psurge/. If there is no current data there, then none is being produced for the current storm.
If you are anticipating non-zero surge, you can always create the SurgeHtPlusTide grid by hand so the data will be picked up by the HLS. You can also manually create the CoastalFloodThreat grid so the gHLS will be more representative of the threat.
- How can I test the tools before an event?
- The Wind, Inland Flooding and Tornado threat tools can
be tested anytime as the data is always available. The Storm Surge tool
can only be run when there is surge data available, which is only when
part of your domain is under a watch or warning. Make sure things work
now rather than waiting for a real event. But when you have no active
system, make sure your graphics show <None>.
- What should I do if the tools do not provide the output
I feel is appropriate for my area?
- Then by all means adjust the output using the usual
suite of grid editing tools. Then save, publish and send up to the web.
- Should I create my threat grids before or after creating
- This is a good question. With this season's version of the formatter relying on the grids produced by the TCCoastalFloodThreat tool, the tools need to be run before running the
HLS. Also, it highlights where the major threats are and can assist in creating
appropriate zone groupings in the HLS.
Impact Graphics Configuration
- What will appear with the mouseover capability if that section (i.e. storm surge) is not in a particular segment?
- If a particular subsection does not appear in a segment for a particular zone group, the situation overview will be shown as the mouseover information.
- Should the XXX_mask for each threat graphic be unique?
- For the most part, yes. The Wind mask should be for
the land only as the threat level definitions at the bottom of the page
describe land-based impacts. However if you have included the marine zones
as part of the mask then leave it as-is because the image maps for the
mouse-over functionality in the website have already been done and redoing them would be too much work at this point.
Just be aware that the threat level definitions at the bottom of the impact
graphic webpage describe land-based impacts only.
- The Inland Flooding mask should also be land-only. The
Tornado mask should be your entire AoR, including Marine, as watches are
issued for the entire area.
- The Storm Surge mask is a bit trickier. It should mirror
the area for which surge guidance is issued. To do this, you would need
to bring up your SLOSH basin map and draw a similar edit area by hand
in GFE. It does not have to be exact as this is experimental, but it is
best to be close. You should probably err on the side of adding a larger
area. WFO MHX has a good example of a surge mask, as shown below.
- Once you have all of the masks where you want them,
you will need to save and publish them and provide copies of the new images
to Loly Brandes (Maria.Brandes@noaa.gov) and Pablo Santos (Pablo.Santos@noaa.gov)
via email so they can coordinate the needed
adjustments to the maps on the website.
- In order to create copies of the new images without
reposting on the website, put an exit command on the make_ghls.sh
script after the section of the
code where the ifpImage program is invoked before
the line that reads:
echo "Copying image and text files to LDAD
for WEB processing"
Then get the images from the PRODUCTdir
and email them to Loly and Pablo. This will provide them with the
images for verification and creation of the new image maps before
you offically upload them to the production servers.
- Remember to remove the
exit line from the make_ghls.sh script when you are done!
- Can I change the name of the graphics
sent to the web?
- No, this graphic name in the image configuration file
cannot be changed, other than to change MFL to your site ID. If changed,
it will not appear on the web.
- What should I do if the colortable delivered with the
package interferes with my other SITE-level colortables?
- You should remove the delivered colortable and create
one by hand using the provided RGB values.
- How can I test out the full capability of the graphics
and mouse-over functionality?
- Every WFO should have sent up test graphics this season
to make sure everything appears correctly (masks, sample points, etc.).
But if you would also like to test the mouse-over functionality with mock
HLS text, then you need to do the following:
- In PRACTICE
mode, create an HLS, with test wording for the INLAND FLOODING, WINDS/WINDS AND SEAS,
STORM SURGE AND STORM TIDE, and TORNADOES/TORNADOES AND WATERSPOUTS sections, and save it to
a particular file location (/home/user/HLS.txt, etc.).
- In Operational mode, open
a text window and select File --> Import from File, then select
the HLS you created from your saved location.
- Click Enter Editor
- Change the PIL to something unique like TSTTIG and
set addressee to 000 as an extra precaution. You will receive an error
message alerting you to the fact the PIL is not valid. Click YES.
- Make sure your HLS is ready and click Save.
- Create and send your graphics up to the web. Where
is asks for your HLS PIL, give your test PIL (NNNTSTTIG).
- Check the web to make sure your threat graphics
were updated and check the mouse over.
- When you are done, make sure your graphics show
- How does NWRWAVES handle HLSs from more than one WFO?
- There is a file set up by your NWRWAVES focal point that creates separate configuration files for each WFO's HLS that you need to broadcast. So for each HLS that is issued, whether yours or a neighbors, you will receive a GUARDIAN message alerting you to run the HLS Subheadlines selection interface. From there you choose which WFO's configuration to use. Once that file is updated, NWRWAVES will process the appropriate HLS and send it to NWRWAVES browser. See the jobsheets for specific steps.
will a simultaneous HU.A and TR.W in a segment be handled by NWRWAVES?
- Two separate messages will be created and will play
on NWR, both which contain the exact same information. For tone alerting,
this is necessary to get all of the correct SAME information to disseminate.
But for subsequent issuances, you can remove one of the files from rotation
and include both headlines in the one remaining file before it is moved
from Pending. But all subsequent issuances will need to have that as the
followup NWRWAVES does is based on VTEC and the files will not replaces
one another properly when making these edits.
Anytime there are multiple VTEC lines in a given segment, there will be
multiple NWRWAVES messages generated with the exact same content, one
for each VTEC. This is not an issue if you are only playing the Overview.
are HU.S segments handled by NWRWAVES?
- They are handled the same as any other VTEC. The baseline
setup for HU.S is HLS, which is not an EAS code, and no tone alert is
configured. This is all correct. So NWRWAVES will create a message separate
from any other VTEC for broadcast, and it will contain whatever section
information was chosen via the selection interface.
the Overview be included in each file created by NWRWAVES or will it play
- For 2011, there will only be one Overview (OVR) per transmitter. It is treated separately from the hazard files (e.g. HUA, TRW) as opposed to being appended to them. This is an improvement from previous seasons.
- We only want to play the overview. How can I set up the HLS to not require users to launch the subheadline selection window?
- Why is my OVR product not playing on NWR?
- What is required to be tone alerted?
- Only the warnings (TRW and HUW) are required to be tone alerted this season. If you choose to tone watches, that will need to be configured locally.
- How do I prevent the double Precautionary/Preparedness Actions wording from being broadcast?
- Add PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS, PRECAUTIONARY/PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS,|| PRECAUTIONARY PREPAREDNESS ACTIONS to WordFile.txt to remove the extra P/P wording if that section is included.
- Can I have a different default configuration for each
different office's HLS I need to broadcast?
- Yes, you need to first create an hls_sites.list, then create a default for each of the sites following the steps outlined in the config jobsheets.
- Can I keep pws grids in my grid manager, just zeroed
out, so they are not forgotten next year?
- No, you only want to generate pws grids if there is
a reason to do so. The point-and-click site looks for the existence of
pws grids to trigger the tropical wording if the winds are high enough.
So even if they have a zero value, they could accidentally trigger tropical
icons and wording on the web. Make sure to remove all pws grids at the
end of the season.
- What do I need to do to ensure the point-and click web
site has the necessary grids?
- As long as your grids are published, they should be
getting included in the package that is sent up to your regional web farm.
Since SR and WR sites use the rsyncGridsToCWF.sh, you need to ensure you have a line that looks like:
parmlist6="-p pwsD34 -p pwsD64 -p pwsN34 -p pwsN64 -p CoastalThreat -p InlandThreat -p TornadoThreat -p WindThreat -p MarineThreat"
If you find that is not the case, make sure to add it to the script.