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					                         NOAA REPORT
  Vol. XI, No. 12                         www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/nr                                         December 2002

Early Warnings                          Stitches Help Heal Hearts, Preserve
Save Lives During                       Memories, Honor September 11 Heroes
                                        —By Marilu Trainor
Rare November
Tornado Outbreak                        A     beautiful, hand-crafted quilt
                                              sewn by two NOAA employ-
                                        ees and other volunteers from
                                                                                         quilters who sewed seven quilts to
                                                                                         honor the victims of the disaster.
                                                                                            Under the auspices of a group
—By Keli Tarp                           around the nation to honor victims               known as “America’s 9-11 Memo-

T     he deadliest tornado outbreak
     in three years claimed 35 lives
and caused extensive property
                                        of the World Trade Center disaster
                                        was presented to victims’ families
                                        and officials of the Port Authority
                                                                                         rial Quilts,” the volunteers began
                                                                                         work more than a year ago to
                                                                                         preserve the memories of the more
damage Nov. 10-11, but emer-            of New York and New Jersey Police                than 3,000 victims and bring
gency management officials said         Department Nov. 15.                              healing to the hearts of the victims’
timely warnings saved more lives           The quilt pays tribute to 38                  families.
than were lost.                         officers who were killed in the line                Andrea Bair, the Weather
    A total of 92 tornadoes were        of duty on Sept. 11, 2001, during                Service’s western region climate
reported in 12 states, according to     the attack on the center.                        program manager, was the team
NOAA’s National Weather Service.           The two NOAA employees,                       leader for the port authority quilt.
    Most of the deaths occurred in      based at the National Weather                    She traveled to New York to
Tennessee, where 17 people were         Service’s western region headquar-               present the quilt to the families
killed. Eleven people died in           ters in Salt Lake City, Utah, were               and the port authority police
Alabama, five in Ohio and one each      among a group of 400 volunteer                   continued on page 7
in Pennsylvania and Mississippi. A
total of 21 people—more than half
of those killed—died in mobile
homes. Early reports indicated
approximately 200 people sus-
tained injuries.
    Tornadoes were also reported in
Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois,
Indiana, Louisiana and South
Carolina.
    However, it was clear the loss of
life could have been much greater.
Throughout the devastated com-
munities, officials commended
Weather Service forecasters for early
watches and warnings.
    Monitoring the developing
storm system, the NOAA Storm
Prediction Center in Norman,
Okla., alerted officials, the media
and public to the high risk of
                                                                                                                    New York PAPD
severe weather. The forecasters went    NOAA employee Andrea Bair presents a plaque and memorial quilt to representatives of the
on to issue 14 tornado watches and      Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department to honor port authority officers
continued on page 6                     who lost their lives during the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center.

     Recycled
     Paper
2                                                                                                       NOAA Report / December 2002


Observing Deepwater Rockfishes off Southern California
—By Lisa Wooninck                        cowcod, 60 centimeters long.”                     surface.

T     he red-and-white-striped flag
      rockfish stands its ground,
finding scant shelter among a bed
                                             Imagine looking out a tiny
                                         window on a busy intersection
                                         recording for 15-minute periods
                                                                                              At the surface to greet me are
                                                                                           Mary Yoklavich and Milton Love,
                                                                                           long-time research collaborators
of waving brittlestar arms as the        the model, number and year of cars                from the NOAA Fisheries lab in
15-foot Delta submersible gently         that drive by your limited view.                  Santa Cruz and the University of
glides past.                             That is the challenge of counting                 California in Santa Barbara. They
     Small red fish scatter behind       fish from a manned submersible.                   are the principal investigators of a
fields of vase-shaped sponges, while         After only 50 minutes of skim-                recently completed research cruise
a few solitary fish make failed          ming the sea floor, Ijames tells me               in the Cowcod Conservation Areas.
attempts at hiding their large           it is time to surface.                            The 1,660-square-mile refuge, off
bodies by sticking their heads in            “Already?” I plead. Everyone had              the coast of southern California,
small crevices of the rocky outcrop.     told me that I would not want to                  was created in 2001 in response to
    Pilot Chris Ijames guides the sub    return. I had not been convinced of               intense overfishing of the economi-
across the rocky sea floor at 400-       this prior to the dive, being preoc-              cally important cowcod rockfish.
foot depth, while I scrunch into a       cupied with fears of becoming sea-                   “There is a huge data gap in our
space the size of a steamer trunk.       sick or claustrophobic. My col-                   understanding of how marine
    This is my first dive, and the       leagues were right though. Once                   refuges function,” said Love.
marine world at these depths is          you leave the ocean’s surface and                 “Counting fishes and assessing the
more amazing and diverse than I          begin the descent, thoughts of                    habitat both inside and outside the
could have possibly imagined.            potential maladies are replaced by a              conservation area will give us a
When I glance through the upper          delight in the ever-changing view                 baseline from which to compare in
porthole, I am awed by the dark          of surrounding marine life.                       the future. Without initial baseline
shapes of schooling fish backlit by          I reluctantly bid farewell to the             data and follow-up monitoring it
the down-welling surface light.          rockfish paradise. Ijames turns the               will be impossible to determine
    The lower porthole grabs my          lights off and we are enveloped in                what, if any, changes occur in the
attention with an up-close view of       darkness that turns from deep blue                fish populations within and outside
tiny pink anemones and long              to turquoise as we rise to the                    the refuge.”
spidery-armed crabs—so many
creatures waving and pulsing their
life force in so many directions. I
can almost feel all the fish identifi-
cation knowledge that I had been
cramming into my brain the night
before seep out of my ears from
sheer sensory overload. Quickly,
with my face plastered against the
center porthole, I attempt to
identify the fishes within six feet of
the submersible’s path, just as the
expert rockfish biologists had done
in dives before mine.
    I use the lingo of rockfish
biologists when rattling off the
name, number and size of fish and
invertebrates into a microphone
linked to a digital camera. “About
50 pygmy and square spot rock-
fishes, five centimeters long. One
flag amongst brittlestars, 10                                                                                   Mary Nishimoto/UCSB
centimeters long.” My voice rises        A view through the submersible Delta’s porthole reveals a vermilion rockfish on rocks
with excitement, “Oh, great! One         encrusted with colorful algae.
December 2002 / NOAA Report                                                                                                3

                                           nearly two decades of work with
                                           the TAO Project, which is respon-
                                           sible for the maintenance of an
                                           array of moored buoys in the
                                           equatorial Pacific that provides
                                           early warnings of an El Niño.
                                              This is not a task to be taken
                                           lightly. There are 70 buoys in the
                                           array, with 58 of them the respon-
                                           sibility of the United States.
                                              Called ATLAS buoys, for au-
                                           tonomous temperature line acquisi-
                                           tion system, they were initiated by
                                           the lab’s Engineering Development
                                           Division in 1984 as an inexpensive
                                           way to learn about the climate
           Lt. Cdr. Chris Beaverson/NOAA
                                           patterns of the equatorial Pacific.
                                                                                                      Carol Baldwin/NOAA
Andrew Shepherd.                              Standard ATLAS moorings             Raymond Mitchell.
                                           measure surface winds, air tempera-

Andrew Shepherd                            ture, relative humidity, sea surface
                                           temperature and 10 subsurface          Raymond Mitchell
Is the December                            temperatures from an approxi-
                                           mately 1,500-foot-long thermistor      Is the December
Employee of the                            cable. Daily-mean data are trans-
                                           mitted to shore in near real time      Team Member of
Month                                      via NOAA’s polar-orbiting satel-
                                           lites.                                 the Month
—By Jana Goldman                              After testing and deploying         —By Jeanne Kouhestani

W      hen Andrew Shepherd was
       finishing up his studies at
the University of Colorado, he
                                           prototypes, the lab began monitor-
                                           ing a large-scale TAO array in
                                           November 1984. The full array was
                                                                                  A    nyone who has experienced
                                                                                        computer problems can
                                                                                  appreciate how important it is to
thought it would be a fine idea to         completed a decade later.              have good technical support so
go to Alaska and build a log cabin.           “Once the array started, technol-   important projects can be com-
   He got as far as Seattle, Wash.,        ogy changed,” said Shepherd, who       pleted on time, e-mail can be read
and decided to stay there for the          was nominated by Pacific Marine        and responded to and life can go
next 30 years.                             Environmental Laboratory director      on.
   “Seattle was halfway there,”            Eddie Bernard for his “exceptional        The Silver Spring, Md., staff of
Shepherd said with the logic that          contributions to the TAO project       NOAA’s Marine and Aviation
one would expect from a person             in managing the recent transition.”    Operations has counted its bless-
who deals with precise measure-               The lab started a re-engineering    ings since Raymond Mitchell, the
ments.                                     effort in the mid-90s to modernize     December Team Member of the
   Shepherd, a supervisory opera-          the just-completed array. The          Month, joined its information
tions specialist with NOAA’s Pacific       upgrades included improving data       technology team four years ago.
Marine Environmental Laboratory,           quality, adding new sensors,              Mitchell is a contract employee
is the NOAA Employee of the                increasing temporal resolution of      who works for RS Information
Month.                                     internally recorded data, improving    Systems. Since May 1998 he has
   “The award was a surprise,” he          reliability to extend system life,     provided top-notch service to
said. “I received the notice and           simplifying fabrication proce-         Marine and Aviation Operations
thought it was for the other Andy          dures—and doing it all less expen-     headquarters and Commissioned
Shepherd at the University of              sively.                                Personnel Center, and about a year
North Carolina-Wilmington. We                 Shepherd was instrumental in        ago began supporting the staff of
often get each other’s e-mails. I just     identifying the problems with the      the newly created Fisheries Survey
assumed it was a mistake.”                 old moorings and working with the      Vessel Acquisition Program as well.
   Shepherd was nominated for his          continued on page 8                    continued on page 8
4                                                                                                           NOAA Report / December 2002


                                                                                                  A    s with all great projects,



      Focus On…
                                                                                                        Science on a Sphere started
                                                                                                  with a question. “Why can’t NOAA
                                                                                                  present it’s science more effec-
                                                                                                  tively?”


                    Science on a Sphere
                                                                                                     The question led to experiments
                                                                                                  on the deck of Sandy MacDonald’s
                                                                                                  house in Boulder, Colo., projecting
                     —By Barbara McGehan                                                          images onto a beach ball.
                                                                                                     MacDonald, the director of
                                                                                                  NOAA’s Forecast Systems Labora-
                                                                                                  tory, is known as an innovative
                                                                                                  thinker, but even he didn’t fully
                                                                                                  anticipate the results.
                                                                                                     “I knew that putting NOAA
                                                                                                  climate, weather, geophysical and
                                                                                                  ocean data on a sphere would be a
                                                                                                  spectacular tool for explaining
                                                                                                  NOAA’s science to a vast audi-
                                                                                                  ence,” MacDonald said. “It was
                                                                                                  just a question of working out the
                                                                                                  logistics,” which MacDonald and
                                                                                                  his team began doing in the
                                                                                                  summer of 2001.
                                                                                                     By the summer of 2002, Science
                                                                                                  on a Sphere was ready to use as a
                                                                                                  teaching tool, using images from
                                                                   Wilfred Von Dauster/NOAA
                                                                                                  environmental satellites, output
David Himes (on ladder), senior software engineer for Science on a Sphere, attaches a             from computer models of the
suspension cable from the sphere to the ceiling girder in the science lab of Broomfield Heights   atmosphere and data on land-
(Colo.) Middle School.                                                                            surface and ocean-bottom topogra-
                                                                                                  phy projected onto the 200-pound,
                                                                                                  five-foot-diameter, white fiberglass
                                                                                                  sphere.
                                                                                                     Beverly Meier, an eighth-grade
                                                                                                  teacher at Broomfield Heights
                                                                                                  Middle School in Broomfield,
                                                                                                  Colo., who has worked at the
                                                                                                  Forecast Systems Laboratory during
                                                                                                  summers, began work on some
                                                                                                  lesson plans that would be appro-
                                                                                                  priate for middle school students.
                                                                                                     The sphere was then transported
                                                                                                  to Broomfield Heights Middle
                                                                                                  School to see if students would be
                                                                                                  as captivated with it as were the
                                                                                                  adults who had seen it.
                                                                                                     Meier arranged for over 500
                                                                                                  students to view the sphere and
                                                                                                  participate in the lessons she
                                                                   Wilfred Von Dauster/NOAA       developed. Fourteen scientific and
David Himes (left) and Russ Chadwick, senior engineer from NOAA’s Forecast Systems                technical staff from the Forecast
Laboratory, synchronize watches before Chadwick presents a lesson to Broomfield Heights           System Lab and two representatives
middle schoolers on Science on a Sphere.                                                          continued on page 5
December 2002 / NOAA Report                                                                                                                 5

                                             grow, collapse and disperse. The                 going out into space to view and
                                             prevailing westerly winds and the                study the Earth.”
                                             easterly trade winds materialized                   The students also looked at
                                             before their eyes.                               infrared satellite images and
                                                The students were wide-eyed                   discussed temperature.
                                             and enthusiastic about the displays.                One of the most popular activi-
                                             As they looked at the sphere                     ties was dividing up each group of
                                             through 3-D glasses, the Earth’s                 students into teams, then giving
                                             topography and bathymetry                        students from each team a laser
                                             emerged and they saw enormous                    pointer to see who could locate an
                                             ridges, canyons and crustal plates               area on the globe first. Each
                                             beneath the oceans.                              student had a turn and had to look
                                                Students walked clockwise                     at the nighttime lights on the
                                             around the sphere to observe Earth               Earth to determine the correct
                                             by night and day. They were                      location of various cities, countries
                                             handed flat maps and asked, “How                 and other cultural and physical
                                             are the globe and map similar and                features.
                                             different? How does Antarctica                      Eighth grader Tom Romaine
                Wilfred Von Dauster/NOAA     appear different on the map                      said, “Science On a Sphere in-
David Himes helps a student calculate the    compared to the globe?” The                      trigued me and made me wonder
distance between a geostationary satellite
                                             questions and answers went on and                about our Earth and the ways in
and the Earth using the Science on a
                                             on.                                              which we can make our planet a
Sphere as a model.
                                                The sphere turned out to be a                 better place to live.”
                                             hit with teachers too.                              Robert Croft, a sixth grade
continued from page 4                           Teacher Neida Gross said,                     teacher at Broomfield Heights
of NOAA’s Oceanic and Atmo-                  “Science On a Sphere is an awe-                  Middle School, said, “It is wonder-
spheric Research outreach program            some learning tool. Being able to                ful to know that there are still
conducted the lessons at the                 look at a large, three-dimensional               people out there who are willing to
middle school using the sphere               Earth with real satellite images                 invest their time and effort in our
suspended from the science lab’s             projected on it is almost as good as             youth.”
ceiling struts, four projectors
positioned at 90-degree spacing
around the sphere, and a custom-
ized software package to correctly
position the images on the sphere.
   The students were brought into
the darkened science lab in groups
of 20 to 30.
   The images projected onto the
sphere allowed the students to
imagine gazing upon Earth as if
they were suspended in orbit
22,000 miles above the planet’s
surface. As the students watched,
infrared satellite imagery was
projected onto the movie screen-
like surface of the sphere to show
Earth’s dynamic atmosphere.
   The students could watch a
hurricane form, slowly gather
strength and travel westward from                                                                              Wilfred Von Dauster/NOAA
Africa across the Atlantic Ocean.            An infrared image from seven satellites above Earth is projected onto Science on a Sphere to
They could see the colorful infrared         observe weather patterns, while Beverly Meier, the teacher who developed the NOAA
images of cloud tops meet, join,             Science on a Sphere lesson plans, instructs her students.
6                                                                                                 NOAA Report / December 2002


Early Warnings                         pager signal that automatically
                                       turns the unit on and sounds an
                                                                                      StormReady. Van Wert County was
                                                                                      designated StormReady by the
continued from page 1                  alert. The theater’s unit was tied             NOAA weather forecast office in
a severe thunderstorm watch.           directly into the Van Wert County              northern Indiana this past Jan. 10.
   More than two dozen Weather         siren system and activated immedi-                 “If we hadn’t gone through the
Service forecast offices issued        ately once the Van Wert County                 StormReady process and gotten our
dozens of tornado warnings, giving     emergency operations center                    warning system in place before this
valuable advance notice to the         sounded the warning sirens. The                storm, a lot of people would not
public of the devastation sweeping     unit then remained open for live               have gotten the warning, and we
across the South, Midwest and          broadcasts by the emergency                    could have lost many more lives,”
Ohio River Valley.                     manager.                                       McCoy said.
   Following a tornado warning, an        The Van Wert County emer-                       “All communities across the
alert theater manager in Van Wert,     gency operations center received               country need to look at becoming
Ohio, and his staff got more than      the NOAA tornado warning via a                 StormReady, because at some point
50 adults and children out of          NOAA Weather Radio receiver                    they’re going to have severe weather
theaters in the multiplex and into     tuned to the Fort Wayne, Ind.,                 of some kind. People shouldn’t say
safer conditions in a hallway and      weather radio transmitter fre-                 ‘it can’t happen here,’ because it
restrooms. Minutes later a tornado     quency. Van Wert County emer-                  can,” he said.
tore off the building’s roof and       gency manager Rick McCoy                           The tornado touched down in
tossed cars into the screen and        received the warning and immedi-               Van Wert County with 13 minutes
front seats where children and         ately activated the city of Van Wert           lead time. The tornado struck the
parents had been watching “The         siren warning system. McCoy also               movie theater 28 minutes after the
Santa Clause 2.” While surveying       broadcast the Weather Service                  warning was issued.
the ruined theater, Lt. Gov.           tornado warning and action state-                  In Alabama, local emergency
Maureen O’Connor said, “There is       ment live over the Informer.                   managers praised the Weather
no doubt in my mind that he saved         Seventy of the alert units and a            Service staff in Birmingham for the
many lives.”                           number of NOAA Weather Radio                   advance warning lead times.
   The National Weather Service’s      receivers were purchased with grant                Fayette County emergency
StormReady program helped Van          money by the Van Wert County                   management director Theresa
Wert County be prepared for            emergency management office as                 Willcutt said, “The information
disaster. To earn a StormReady         one of the requirements to become              continued on page 7
designation, county officials placed
a series of warning alert systems in
public locations, including the
movie theater.
   “This story illustrates a great
success for the National Weather
Service, NOAA Weather Radio and
StormReady programs,” said
Stephan Kuhl, the Weather
Service’s national warning coordi-
nation program manager.
   “It also illustrates the impor-
tance of establishing a close work-
ing relationship between our local
NWS offices, our emergency
management partners and ulti-
mately the communities that we
serve.”
   The theater office was equipped
with a Federal Signal Corporation                                                                           Ron Trumbla/NOAA
local warning alert system called      Residents reported they had ample warning of a powerful F3 tornado that damaged a
the “Informer.” The Informer is        women’s university and numerous businesses in Columbus, Miss., before moving through a
activated via a digitally encoded      residential neighborhood.
December 2002 / NOAA Report                                                                                          7


Sept. 11 Quilt                           and affection that is displayed in
                                         the quilt gives the families a sense
                                                                                  loved one. To say the least, the
                                                                                  event was very emotional for me,
continued from page 1                    of the appreciation that is felt by      and for the families who were
department at the former World           all of us.”                              present at the dedication.”
Trade Center site. The quilt in-             On accepting the quilt, port
cludes fabric patches Bair made
with photographs of all 38 fallen
                                         authority police superintendent
                                         Charles D. DeRienzoin said, “This        Early Warnings
officers and the port authority’s K-     is an extraordinary gift that comes      continued from page 6
9 dog.                                   from the heart and soul of America.      you provided beforehand and as the
   Bair said, “Working on the quilt      On behalf of our police force and        storms were occurring was superb.
has been such a personal privilege.      the families of our heroic brothers      We always knew exactly what was
We began work by designing our           and sisters who made the ultimate        happening.”
layout within one month of the           sacrifice to save lives on Sept. 11, I       Walker County emergency
tragedy. Sewing began in February        would like to express our profound       management director Johnny
2002 and involved hundreds of            gratitude.”                              Burnette concurred. “The flow of
hours of work by quilters from five          Bair said the port authority         information was more than anyone
states. More than 150 different          plans to display the quilt publicly      could ever hope to have in a
fabrics were used to create the          at its headquarters in Jersey City.      situation like last night [Nov. 10].”
patchwork, [which] was designed              She said another gigantic quilt,         Ken Graham, NOAA meteorolo-
in the traditional style known as        known as the “Victims’ Quilt,” will      gist in charge at the Birmingham
the ‘courthouse log cabin’ style.”       feature photos of every known            forecast office, surveyed the tornado
    The quilt is adorned with            victim of the terror attacks. That       damage from a helicopter. He was
mementos of the port authority           quilt will measure 10 feet by 60         impressed with how well the entire
police department, including             feet and will contain all 3,000+         warning process worked. “We
badges, buttons from police              faces and names. The quilters hope       monitored the radar images and got
uniforms and the department              it will be preserved and displayed       the warnings out early. The media
slogan, “Pride, Service, Distinc-        for the families at the proposed         did a terrific job of relaying the
tion.” The quilt also includes an        World Trade Center memorial park         information to the public. The
appliquéd rendering of the New           in New York City or an appropriate       emergency management people
York skyline, in which each build-       museum to permanently safeguard          were providing critical information
ing is made from a separate piece of     the memory of all who perished in        and, most important, the citizens
fabric, plus two hand-stiched            New York, Washington and Penn-           heeded the warnings and took
poems. Photos of the fallen officers     sylvania.                                appropriate actions,” Graham said.
are mounted on a red field and are           Weather Service western region           “It just all came together the
surrounded by contrasting blue           director Vickie Nadolski added,          way it’s supposed to,” Graham
and red fabric strips with hand-         “Andrea and Karen have dedicated         added. “Despite the 11 fatalities in
embroidered names and ranks of all       their hearts to this project. They       Alabama, a lot of lives were saved
the officers.                            created a fabric of love that will       by the watch and warning process.”
   The centerpiece of the quilt, a       become part of American history.             While a tornado outbreak of this
port authority police shield, was        They chose to memorialize those          size is unusual any time of the year,
cross-stitched by Karen St. Clair,       workers who perished for knowing         it is especially rare in November.
the Weather Service’s western            what they had to do to protect           The last major November outbreak
region budget officer. It took her       others.”                                 was in 1992.
three months to create the large             Following the dedication Bair            This outbreak is the biggest to
shield and another two months to         said, “After visiting Ground Zero        occur during what had previously
make a similar depiction of the          and meeting several of the families,     been a quiet year for tornadoes. In
Statue of Liberty. St. Clair recruited   I knew every hour I spent working        fact, the total tornado count for the
her mother, Joan Foltz, also of Salt     on the quilt was more than worth         year had been as low as 50 percent
Lake City, to create an embroidered      it. I was truly overwhelmed and          of average. Through October, 670
American flag.                           touched by their reaction to seeing      tornadoes had been reported
   “Working on the symbol gave           the quilt for the first time. I was      during 2002, according to the
me a special connection to the           speechless when three of the             Storm Prediction Center. The
families and their sacrifices,” St.      families gave me special pins that       three-year average for tornadoes
Clair said. “I hope that the love        they had made in honor of their          during that same time is 1,068.
8                                                                                           NOAA Report / December 2002


Shepherd                                1,146 module temperature calibra-
                                        tions.
                                                                                system and an Oracle database.
                                                                                   His many achievements include
continued from page 3                      Shepherd has spent his entire        migrating the Marine and Aviation
lab’s engineering development           career at NOAA’s Pacific Marine         Operations headquarters and
division to solve them.                 Environmental Laboratory. “You          NOAA Corps Commissioned
   “Andy managed this transition,       couldn’t ask for a better job,” he      Personnel Center offices from
including development of new            said. “It’s a complex challenge that    Banyan to Windows, migrating e-
calibration procedures, production      changes daily.”                         mail from BeyondMail to the
of new sensors and design and              As for that cabin in the wilds of    NOAA Enterprise Messaging
construction of a new sensor test       Alaska, well, Shepherd visited the      System and keeping the office
facility, with no increase in budget    forty-ninth state a while back. “It’s   running smoothly from an informa-
or personnel,” Bernard wrote in his     too cold,” he said.                     tion technology perspective.
nomination.                                                                        “Ray single-handedly got all 45
   “Although funds for running the
TAO array have been essentially         Mitchell                                users off the Banyan network one at
                                                                                a time. We were pleased it did not
flat since 1996, through efforts like   continued from page 3                   interrupt anyone’s work, because a
Andy’s, the TAO project continues          “More than once I’ve received        shift like this would usually bring
to sustain a high level of efficiency   feedback from the people that Ray       the system down for half a day or
in the delivery of high-quality         has helped, and I’m always pleased      more,” Bass said. “He was able to
oceanographic and surface meteoro-      to hear this well-deserved recogni-     do this because of his planning
logical data to NOAA forecasting        tion for him,” said Greg Bass, who      capabilities and resourcefulness,
centers, NOAA researchers and to        oversees Mitchell’s work.               and because he took the time to
the scientific community,” Bernard         “Ray is a real people person who     research solutions to problems and
wrote.                                  never keeps a customer waiting. He      was able to respond to surprises
     Depending on sea conditions,       has resolved many issues for Marine     when the system didn’t work the
the 12-foot aluminum TAO tower,         and Aviation Operations manage-         way it was supposed to.”
secured atop an orange and white        ment and staff, often in hours or          Mitchell can be recognized by
doughnut-shaped buoy, can been          days instead of the weeks some-         his “can do” attitude and cheerful
seen by radar from four to eight        times taken by others. His trade-       willingness to serve. His motto is,
miles away.                             marks are prompt response,              “If I do not have the solution to a
   Pieces of the buoys are loaded       attention to detail, insight to the     problem, I do know how to get it.”
onto ships and assembled aboard         inner workings of IT systems,           And he does, consistently.
the moving vessel at sea. The ease      providing solutions quickly and in         Mitchell’s friendly smile and
of deploying or installing these        general keeping the users satis-        genuine approach go a long way in
systems depends on sea conditions.      fied—all with a smile,” Bass said.      dealing with his customers and
   With each buoy having a life-           Mitchell came to NOAA with           truly make him an asset to NOAA
time of a year, it’s steady work for    excellent credentials. After retiring   Marine and Aviation Operations.
Ka’imimoana (ocean seeker), the         from the Navy, he worked for the
NOAA ship dedicated to the              State Department and White               The NOAA Report is a monthly publi-
service of the array in the Pacific.    House from 1995 to 1997.                 cation for NOAA employees from the
   “In a research environment, few         When he began working for             Office of Public and Constituent Affairs,
things are purchased off the shelf,”    NOAA Marine and Aviation                 Washington, D.C.
Shepherd said. “The people who          Operations, he was responsible for       Address comments to:
work at PMEL are creative and           arranging for the migration of the       Editor, The NOAA Report
flexible.”                              mail system to Netscape.                 1315 East-West Highway
   In addition to the moorings,            Mitchell now manages the              SSMC3, room 10853
                                                                                 Silver Spring, MD 20910
Shepherd also supervises the            network and provides software and
                                                                                 301-713-9042 (voice)
checkout and preparation for            hardware installation with up-           301-713-9049 (fax)
deployment of about 900 tempera-        grades and configurations. He            Email: dane.konop@noaa.gov
ture and conductivity sensor            works closely with the NOAA              NOAA Report Online: http://
modules and the calibration of 114      Network Operations Center and            www.publicaffairs.noaa.gov/nr
air temperature sensors, 185            coordinates information with other       Jordan St. John, director, OPCA
relative humidity sensors, 200          NOAA offices. He also administers        Dane Konop, editor
wind sensors, 105 rain gauges and       a personnel document imaging

				
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