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noaa's National Weather Service


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									Colorado Wildfire Mitigation Conference April 13-15, 2007
           NOAA’s National Weather Service
                  Pueblo, Colorado
The Answer is Yes
Organization Structure
      President of the United States

      Department of Commerce

      National Oceanic and
      Atmospheric Administration

       National Weather Service
 Although NOAA was formed in 1970, the agencies that came together at
that time are among the oldest in the Federal Government. The agencies
included the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey formed in 1807, the
Weather Bureau formed in 1870, and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries
formed in 1871. Individually these organizations were America's first physical
science agency, America's first agency dedicated specifically to the
atmospheric sciences, and America's first conservation agency. Much of
America's scientific heritage resides in these agencies. They brought their
cultures of scientific accuracy and precision, stewardship of resources, and
protection of life and property to the newly formed agency.
• NOAA is a federal agency focused on the understanding and
  protecting our oceans and atmosphere.
• A Supplier of environmental information and services that extend to
  weather, climate, ecosystems and commerce as well.
• A Provider of Environmental Stewardship Services.
• A Leader in Applied Scientific Research
• NOAA’s Mission
   – “To understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment and
     conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our
     nation’s economic, social and environmental needs”
                             NWS History
•   A federal agency that has been in
    existence since 1870.
•   The "original" NWS began under the
    direction of the Signal Corps until it
    was transferred to the Department of
    Agriculture in 1890. This was part of
    the "Organic Act" that defines the
    responsibilities of the agency.
•   The Weather Bureau remained under
    the Department of Agriculture until
    1940 when it was transferred to the
    Department of Commerce...where it
    remains today.
•   Renamed the National Weather
    Service and, in 1970, was placed
    under the newly created National
    Oceanic and Atmospheric
    Administration (NOAA) which remains
    under the Department of Commerce.
                NWS Mission
• Protecting Lives and
• Serving America’s
  need for weather
• Enhance the
  Nation’s Economy
             NWS Responsibilities
•   The NWS is the sole United
    States OFFICIAL voice for
    issuing warnings during life-
    threatening weather situations.

•   Provides weather, hydrologic,
    and climate forecasts and
    warnings for the United States
    to protect lives and property
    and enhance the national

•   NWS data and services form a
    national information database
    and infrastructure used by
    other governmental agencies,
    the private sector, the public,
    and the global community.
             Weather Forecast Offices
•   Around-the-clock service for their
    areas of responsibility.
•   This includes weather forecasts and
    warnings. The forecast areas
    typically consist of 20 to 50
•   Your local office forecasters are
    most familiar with your local area
    and weather nuances.
•   The men and women that work at
    weather forecast offices issue and
    provide a myriad of products and
•   These include routine weather
    forecasts, advisories, watches, and
•   Aviation, Fire Weather, Hydrology,
    Search and Rescue, Incident
    Response, Damage Survey and
                National Centers
• The National Centers
  for Environmental
  Prediction (NCEP), is
  comprised of nine
  distinct Centers and is
  a critical national
  resource in national
  and global weather
  prediction providing a
  wide variety of
  national and
  international weather
  guidance products.
                  Observing the Atmosphere
                  Surface Observations - Past
•   In 1814 the US Surgeon
    General ordered
    surgeons to keep
    weather diaries. These
    are the first official
    weather observations in
    the U.S.
•   Smithsonian recruits 500
    volunteer weather
    observers to report via
    telegraph in 1860.
•   Weather Bureau begins
    observations at Post
    Offices and other
    Federal Buildings in
•   Transitioned to Airport
    observations in the
    1930s and 40s as air
    travel increased
                 Observing the Atmosphere
                Surface Observations -Today
•   Most airport observations
    transitioned to automated
    sensors in the 1980s and
    90s (ASOS).
•   Widespread development
    of mesonetworks began
    in the 1990s (RAWS,
    Schoolnet, DOT AWOS,
    etc. )
•   While human observers
    have been replaced at
    airports, 1000s of
    volunteer COOP
    observers still report
    weather every day
            Observing the Atmosphere
           Surface Observations - Future

• Continued expansion
  of various, mainly non
  NWS mesonetworks
• Development of more
  disposable sensors
• Expansion of remote
• Problems include
  bandwidth, siting,
  calibration, etc.
         Observing the Atmosphere
        Upper Air Observations - Past
•   In 1898 the Weather
    Bureau begins
    regular kite
    observations for
    studying upper-air,
    last flight made in
•   In 1909 balloon
    observations begin
•   In 1931 regular 5
    a.m. EST aircraft
    observations at
    Chicago, Cleveland,
    Dallas and Omaha, at
    altitudes reaching
    16,000 feet begin.
    This program spells
    the demise of "kite
         Observing the Atmosphere
        Upper Air Observations - Past
•   In 1933 First Weather
    Bureau balloon carried
    radio-meteorgraph, or
    radiosonde, sounding
    made at East Boston,
    Mass. Ends the era of
    manned aircraft
    soundings since
    balloons could be
    launched in virtually all
    weather conditions and
    could fly substantially
    higher than aircraft
•   Automated radar
    tracking of weather
    balloons began in
    1950s, eliminating time
    consuming manual
     Observing the Atmosphere
   Upper Air Observations - Present
• Roughly 1000
  stations release
  twice daily at 00z
  and 12z.
• Program
  underway to
  replace U.S.
  (1950s tech) with
  GPS tracked
     Observing the Atmosphere
   Upper Air Observations - Present
• Other sources of
  upper air data
• ACARS data
  from commercial
  aircraft (4000
  obs per day
• Wind Profilers –
  vertically pointed
  doppler radar
  which measures
  winds speeds
• Satellite wind
  and temperature
  profiles also
        Observing the Atmosphere
      Upper Air Observations - Future
•   Research into the use of umanned
    aerial vehicles (UAVs) for upper air
    observations is ongoing within NOAA.
•   UAVs can loiter for 24 hours or more,
    at altitudes of 45000 feet
•   UAVs can used for “dull, dirty and
    dangerous” work including fire
    perimeter monitoring, air sampling for
    smoke and hazardous materials
    releases and basic atmospheric
•   Could be especially helpful
    over data sparse areas of the
    Northern Pacific
           Observing the Atmosphere
•   First widespread use
    of radar was for
    military applications
    during World War 2
•   After the war, surplus
    military radars were
    given to the Weather
    Bureau for research
•   First dedicated
    weather radar, the
    WSR-57, began
    deployment in 1959
•   Research into Doppler
    radar technology
    began in the 1960s at
    the National Severe
    Storms Laboratory in
    Norman Oklahoma
          Observing the Atmosphere
•   Doppler radar
    continues at
    NSSL through
    the 1970s
•   First networked
    Dopple radar
    developed in
    the 1980s,
    throughout the
    nation in the
•   Last WSR-57
    radar replaced
    in 1999
          Observing the Atmosphere
•   Research is underway at the
    National Severe Storms Lab on the
    next generation of weather radar,
    using AEGIS phased array
    technology developed by the Navy
•   Phased array radar has the
    potential to reduce radar volume
    scan time from 4-5 minutes to 20-
    30 seconds
•   Large improvement in
    tornado warning lead
    times is possible
•   Deployment of Phased
    Array technology
    possible sometime
    after 2015
           Observing the Atmosphere
•   World’s first
    Meteorological Satellite
    was TIROS-1,
    launched on April 1,
•   First satellites were
    polar orbiting, passing
    over the same point on
    the Earth twice a day
•   Geostationary
    satellites, which rotate
    at the same speed as
    the Earth and remain
    over the same point on
    the surface, were
    developed in the early
•   The first operational
    geostationary satellite
    was SMS-1, launched
    on May 17 1974.
           Observing the Atmosphere
•   Currently 2 GOES
    satellites are in
•   GOES-11 (135W)
    covers the western
    portion of North
    America and the
    eastern Pacific
•   GOES-12 (75W)
    covers eastern
    North America and
    the Atlantic Ocean
•   A spare GOES
    satellite is in on-
    orbit storage in
    case of failure of
    either primary
        What do we do with all this
•   Data from around the world is
    collected by NCEP in
    Maryland, then fed into a
    supercomputer for analysis
    and modeling
•   The NCEP supercomputer
    runs several weather forecast
    computer model programs to
    help us predict the weather in
•   Can perform over 2 trillion
    calculations per second
•   If you used a pocket
    calculator, it would take you
    5,000 years to do the same
    number of calculations
                   Forecasting Process
                    National Centers (NCEP) and Model
 -Event Driven
                              High Resolution Grids
-Always current
                                                                 – Interactive
                                                                 – Collaborative
                                                                 – Information
   Local Digital
     Forecast        Field                            National     Oriented
     Database       Offices                           Centers
                              Data and Science Focus

                                National Digital
             Where Can I Find It?
•   Weather Systems and National Data
     – www.hpc.ncep.noaa.gov
     – Cold Fronts and Warm Fronts
     – High and Low Pressure
     – Jet stream
     – Upper level Winds
     – Day 1-7 Surface Maps
•   Water Vapor Satellite Imagery
     – adds.aviationweather.gov
•   WFO Pueblo Graphical Forecast
     – Weather.gov/pub click on
•   WFO Pueblo Activity Planner
     – Weather.gov/pub click on Activity
•   WFO Pueblo Fire Weather Info
     – Weather.gov/pub click on Fire Weather
                                               Photo courtesy Pam Evenson
• Prediction is very difficult, especially about
  the future.
           - Niels Bohr (Danish physicist,
           who worked on the Manhattan
           Project in World War 2

   Email: eric.petersen@noaa.gov

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