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The National Weather Service Modernization and Associated Restructuring: A Retrospective Assessment

The result was greater integration of science into weather service activities and improved outreach and coordination with users of weather information. The MAR created a new, modernized NWS, and, significantly, it created a framework that will allow the NWS to keep up with technological changes in a more evolutionary manner. The MAR was both necessary and generally well executed. However, it required revolutionary, often difficult, changes. The procurement of large, complex technical systems presented challenges in and of itself.

The MAR also affected the career paths and personal lives of a large portion of the field office workforce. The National Weather Service Modernization and Associated Restructuring presents the first comprehensive assessment of the execution of the MAR and its impact on the provision of weather services in the United States.

This report provides an assessment that addresses the past modernization as well as lessons learned to support future improvements to NWS capabilities. The National Academies Press and the Transportation Research Board have partnered with Copyright Clearance Center to offer a variety of options for reusing our content. The National Weather Service modernization and associated restructuring presents the first comprehensive assessment of the execution of the MAR and its impact on the provision of weather services in the United States. This report provides an assessment that addresses the past modernization as well as lessons learned to support future improvements to NWS capabilities"--Publisher's description.

Find a copy online Links to this item View full text. Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Document, Internet resource Document Type: Machine generated contents note: Acronyms and Abbreviations -- B. Prior Assessments of the Modernization and Associated Restructuring. Summary of Questionnaire Responses -- E.

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National Weather Service " ;. A set of polar orbiting satellites, each crossing above the equator at a different local time, work together to provide coverage of the entire Earth, including the poles. Although the polar system observations have lower temporal resolution in comparison.


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In addition, the temperature and vapor soundings derived from polar orbiters have better vertical resolution. The complete global coverage that the sounder data provides is used for initiation of global NWP models. In addition, the polar-orbiting satellites provide better all-weather performance.

The launch of the Television Infrared Observation Satellite TIROS-1 in began significant strides forward in synoptic scale weather interpretation with routine global cloud observations from the system of polar orbiting satellites NRC, b. The images proved valuable in data-sparse areas, particularly in detecting and tracking tropical storms over the oceans NRC, b. Beginning with the launch of the Applications Technology Satellite ATS-1 in geostationary orbit in , meteorologists obtained full disk images of Earth and its cloud cover every 20 minutes. The spin scan cloud camera implemented on the ATS-1 geostationary platform enabled observations of weather systems in motion during daytime Purdom, Since then, each new series of geostationary satellites has incorporated improvements in both instruments and data provision.

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Improvements in the instruments included addition of infrared and microwave channels to the visible channels on the imager, allowing nighttime observations, and addition of a sounder capability to observe the vertical structure of the atmosphere. The GOES series of satellites also began to assist in provision and transmission of additional data.

For example, starting in the mids the GOES Data Collection System DCS was implemented, allowing for the relay of data from remote, ground-based data collection platforms through the satellite to a central processing facility. The need to modernize computational capacity at NWS national centers was well recognized at the time of the MAR and was one of the major components of the modernization.

Two emerging capabilities helped define and drive the MAR objectives for more uniform and scientifically-based forecast products: Managing, disseminating, and interpreting this expanding volume of information content required changes in many areas. The downscaling of numerical prediction results to specific guidance information that forecasters could utilize for their specific location was another important development. Before the deployment in the late s and early s of the Automation of Field Operations and Services AFOS , a computer-based forecaster workstation technology, the communication infrastructure of the NWS consisted of teletypewriter and facsimile circuits.

The communications system was vulnerable to failure, especially in severe weather conditions high winds, ice storms, etc. Major advances in meteorological instrumentation and measurement techniques were providing new data and information, contributing to improved weather forecasting and warning. The software was later rewritten to become the modern, modular, open architecture it is today that can accommodate upgrades and improvements such as AWIPS-II, presently being staged for operational deployment.


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The WSFOs prepared general forecasts for their assigned region of responsibility and provided severe weather warnings for their immediate local area covered by the station radar. They also recorded local observations and often had upper-air radiosonde observing responsibility. Some WSOs had local weather radars and had local responsibility for issuing severe weather warnings. All WSOs had surface observing responsibility and some performed upper-air observations.

Some WSOs were open only part time. It is difficult to obtain comprehensive data regarding the skill level, or performance metrics, of the NWS general weather forecasting prior to and during the MAR. Forecast verification data is collected centrally, and is made available to NOAA employees, and to other government employees and researchers on a case-by-case basis.

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However, some data are available for tornado and flash flood warnings see Figure 4. For example, in the late s, about 40 percent of tornado occurrences were detected, with an average warning lead time of five minutes and a false alarm rate of about 80 percent. There was a similar detection rate of about 40 percent for flash floods, with a warning lead time of near 10 minutes, and a false alarm ratio of about 60 percent.

It would describe the critical new technology components as well as the associated staff and operational changes necessary to fulfill the objectives of weather and flood forecasting and warning service improvements. The modernization and associated restructuring of NWS shall assure that the major advances which have been made in our ability to observe and understand the atmosphere are applied to the practical problems of providing weather and hydrologic services to the Nation NWS, The Strategic Plan emphasized that the MAR would be dependent on the development and implementation of several major technologies including.

Along with numerical weather prediction model improvements, this improved national guidance for forecasts and warnings; and. The system allowed communication between each weather forecast office and distribution of centrally collected data and centrally produced analysis and guidance products, as well as satellite data and imagery NWS, In Public Law , Congress also requested that one year after submission of the Strategic Plan , the NWS prepare and submit an initial implementation plan with annual revisions.

The NIP planned a transition to the modernized NWS that would be driven by service requirements and accomplished in two distinct stages. The staging would provide a stabilization period to allow field offices to adjust to, and gain familiarity with, the new Doppler radar system and data, and high resolution surface observation data NWS, Stage 1 would be characterized by an improvement in severe weather detection capability. Stage 2 would be characterized by operation of a reliable predictive warning program.