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Summary Since World War II, significant improvements have been made in the prediction of large-scale weather features (high pressure areas, large storms) owing to increased knowledge of atmospheric processes, new observational techniques such as radar and satellites, and the advent of large computers and numerical prediction models. However, improvements in the forecasting and warning of smaller-scale phenomena (hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, flash floods) have been less dramatic. Yet recent scientific advances in the understanding of these phenomena and new capabilities to observe and rapidly process information on these smaller scales (from a few to several hundred miles) now permit a major advance in weather service to the nation. As a result, the United States has launched a bold and innovative program to modernize the National Weather Service (NWS), a major compo- nent of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the Department of Commerce. The modernization involves new observational technology, powerful new information and forecast systems, and a new organi- zational structure. It promises to provide a dramatic improvement in weather services to the nation, including more accurate and timely predictions of those weather events that have regular and dramatic impact on both private and public activities. Modernization of the NWS thus offers great opportunities to the nation, but it is also a complex undertaking. The National Weather Service Modern- ization Committee of the National Research Council (NRC) endorses the At the request of NOAA, the National Research Council established a review committee on the modernization and associated restructuring of the NWS. This first report of the Committee presents the results of its work during 1990. The Committee will continue its review and will present additional findings and recommendations in subsequent reports.

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organizational approach and implementation philosophy of the NWS, but recognizes the challenges ahead; success will depend on the continuity of strong leadership, of good management, and of adequate resources. Although the Committee is impressed with the progress made by the NWS, it is also cognizant of the commitment required by the federal government, NOAA, and the NWS to complete successfully the modernization and revitalization of the nation's weather services. The recommendations presented in this report are intended to be supportive of the national effort and to increase the possibili- ties of success. • The success of the National Weather Service modernization requires an increased commitment of resources and personnel to the many scientific, technical, and organizational challenges involved. Parsimony now will be expensive later.1 • The National Weather Service modernization requires the development and implementation of complex observation and information systems. Rigorous and creative management of the overall structure and of the individual components of each of these systems is essential for success. The system management capabilities of the National Weather Service must be strengthened through the commitment of additional resources and personnel. • Modernization of the National Weather Service involves a variety of scientific and technical issues and challenges. The National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should create technical advisory panels for each of the major systems that contribute to the technological modernization. However, these panels cannot substitute for the additional resources and personnel recommended. • Modernization must continue beyond the implementation of systems now being procured. Provision should be made to incorporate data from additional new technology, such as wind profilers and a lightning detection network, and to take advantage of scientific developments as well as improved computational and information systems as they become available. NEW OBSERVATION SYSTEMS The Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) system utilizes Doppler radar technology to provide improved estimates of precipitation amounts; to detect the transition between rain and snow; to track storm Several specific recommendations appear in the section on human and financial resources in Chapter 6.

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movement and intensity, and to allow for earlier detection of the precursors of tornadic activity, thunderstorm development, and other important weather phenomena. The NEXRAD program is currently in a limited production phase. A number of software problems have been encountered and are in the process of being resolved. The Committee cannot judge how well NEXRAD will meet its technical and functional requirements until the test and evalua- tion phase has been completed. • Steps should be taken to ensure the continued development and improvement of Next Generation Weather Radar processing algorithms as new developments and operational experience accumulate. The National Weather Service should develop a continuing comprehensive training and education program so that the skills of the Next Generation Weather Radar maintenance and operational staffs, as well as the meteorologists and hydrol- ogists, reflect the ever-changing state of the art. The Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) network will provide the basic data required for severe weather, flash flood, and river forecasting, as well as for support of aviation operations. However, although the ASOS has some dear advantages over the present surface observation method in operational weather forecasting and warning, serious concerns exist about its use in monitoring climate as discussed in the following section. The ASOS network will substantially increase the spatial resolution of surface observa- tions, but even greater resolution will be needed for additional improvement in small-scale weather forecasting and warnings in the future. • The National Weather Service should identify other local and state surface observation resources; initiate efforts to acquire existing data and, as feasible, to improve the quality and quantity of the data; and promote the development and installation of additional local and state networks in data- sparse regions. The Next Generation Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES-Next), now under development, will allow higher-quality and more frequent atmospheric soundings and cloud images to be obtained simulta- neously (only one or the other can be obtained from the current GOES). These advances are very important for improved prediction of severe storms and flash floods. Improvements now being developed in the free atmosphere temperature and humidity soundings acquired by NOAA polar orbiting satel- lites will also contribute to improved longer-range numerical forecasts.

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Development and funding problems in the GOES-Next program may result in a delay until mid-1994 or later in reestablishment of the full two-GOES constellation, should there be a launch or spacecraft failure. The NOAA polar satellite system is in better condition, but continued funding constraints have decreased the availability of replacement satellites, thereby raising the threat of an interruption in observations in the event of launch or premature satellite failure. • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Commerce, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Congress should provide more realistic budgeting and funding for the National Oce- anic and Atmospheric Administration's operational satellite systems in order to realize the full potential benefits of the National Weather Service modern- ization and associated restructuring. Viability and Integrity of the Climate Data Record The nation's climate record is a valuable resource whose viability must be maintained. Climate information is used in the design of structures, drought assessments, agricultural planning and assessment, and water manage- ment. The possibility of climate change as a result of human activity empha- sizes the need for a data record from which climate trends over the coming decades can be determined unambiguously (for example, see Committee on Earth Sciences, 1990; NRC, 1990b). The NWS is the primary organization engaged in observing and recording in situ weather information in the United States. It must ensure the accuracy and integrity of the weather information it gathers to fulfill its operational requirements; however, the Committee is concerned about the adequacy of NWS data to meet NOAA's climate require- ments. Modernization and restructuring of the NWS will affect the viability and integrity of the U.S. climate data record, but it will also provide the opportunity to enhance this record significantly through the availability of new kinds of data; such opportunities should be examined by NOAA. Because the NWS has traditionally viewed its role as collecting observed data to prepare forecasts and warnings, data quality has been determined largely by these needs. However, the accuracy, continuity, and consistency required of observed data for climate studies are more stringent. The Committee argues that the NWS must be concerned that its data satisfy the needs for consistent climate records as well as for forecasting. Because NWS modernization plans

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give little attention to the issues of data management and the quality of the climate record, the Committee recommends1 the following: • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration should set the requirements for the climate data to be derived from the modernized National Weather Service observations, establish the role of the National Weather Service in generating these data, and ensure the availability of the resources necessary for this purpose. The National Weather Service at all levels should recognize its responsibility to acquire a major portion of the national climate record; the preservation of data quality for climatic purposes should have equal priority with its mission of providing forecasts. NEW INFORMATION SYSTEMS Improved information systems are critical to the NWS modernization and associated restructuring. The key component of each modernized Weather Forecast Office (WFO) will be the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) supported by its associated communications system. The AWIPS at each WFO will be the information system used by the meteorolo- gist on duty to prepare warnings and forecasts and to disseminate these products rapidly to the public and other users. The Committee is favorably impressed with the prototypes of AWIPS and the capabilities that are afforded to meteorologists and hydrologists in producing warnings and forecasts. However, it is concerned with the steady slippage of the schedule for full implementation. Without this system, WFOs will be unable to use the new observational technology in an effective manner or to reduce staff through restructuring while increasing service effectiveness. Attention also must be given to providing adequate access by private meteorologists and weather services, and by universities to raw data and information from AWIPS. • The Administration and Congress should take the necessary steps to maintain the implementation schedule for the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System and its associated communications. The National Weather Service, in consort with the university community and private sector users of National Weather Service data and information, should develop viable plans for broad access to the raw data and information that will become available via the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, Additional recommendations in this area appear in Chapter 2.

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keeping in mind the benefits such collaboration can provide to the govern- ment, the public, and the private sector. Improved numerical forecast and guidance products, with higher space and time resolution, are required by the WFOs to improve their forecasts and warnings of small-scale weather features. In turn, these improvements neces- sitate continuing enhancement of computer capability and refinement of atmospheric models at the National Meteorological Center. NEW STRUCTURE OF THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE A major purpose of the NWS modernization is to improve dramatically the short-term forecasts of significant weather events and warnings of severe weather. To achieve this aim, meteorologists and hydrologists must be able to observe their service domains continuously and must have a workload commensurate with the area covered, the short response time necessary for effective warning, and the effective range of available observations (e.g., Next Generation Weather Radar). These human factors must be paramount in evaluating field service structures proposed for the modernized NWS. Weather Forecast Offices The Committee has examined the various configurations of the Weather Forecast Office (WFO) network that have been considered and endorses the proposed network of 115 WFOs, which coincides with the expected effective coverage of the new Next Generation Weather Radars (NEXRADs), a radius of around 200 km from each unit. The efficacy of this network will be vali- dated by the Modernization and Associated Restructuring Demonstration (MARD) to be conducted for one year in the midwestern United States around 1993, a schedule that is in jeopardy because of continued delays in implementation of the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System. However, the Committee is very concerned about a report that the Depart- ment of Commerce has decided to modify the MARD to test the efficacy of using about one-half as many WFOs as now planned while maintaining the current proposed network of 115 NEXRADs. Attempting to double the area covered by each WFO without a propor- tional increase in staff on shift could seriously jeopardize the ability of each WFO to deal effectively with small-scale weather events over such a large area. Moreover, coordination of warnings with state and local government would also be degraded by doubling the area of responsibility for each WFO. Furthermore, a two-tier test would surely increase significantly the difficulties

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involved in using the MARD results in the certification process required by Congress. Finally, the need to transmit the full-resolution data from two or three remote NEXRADs to a WFO and to merge these data in "real time" for use by meteorologists, although technically feasible, would add significantly to the complexity, cost, and the time required to implement both the MARD and, subsequently, the entire modernization. • The Department of Commerce should carefully reconsider its decision to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service conduct a two-tiered Modernization and Associated Restruc- turing Demonstration because a configuration of significantly fewer than 115 Weather Forecast Offices will lead to serious degradation of weather services. Moreover, such an experiment would be much more complex and expensive, and would probably lead to a serious delay in the National Weather Service modernization. Hydrology in the National Weather Service Modernization The nation's need for improved management of water resources and more accurate flood forecasting will increase during the 1990s. Modernization of the NWS presents opportunities for improving hydrological services on all tune scales by taking advantage of the new observational technology and forecasting capabilities, and by enhancing the collaboration between meteorol- ogists and hydrologists. • In light of the National Weather Service modernization and restructur- ing, the workloads, responsibilities, interactions, and cross-training of meteorological, hydrometeorological, and hydrological personnel planned for Weather Forecast Offices and River Forecast Centers should be examined carefully and redefined.1 NEW AND STRONGER COLLABORATION Strong and effective collaboration between the NWS and the academic community, the private sector, and public institutions is necessary for the NWS to accomplish its mission to provide weather and flood warnings and public forecasts for the protection of life and property, as well as to improve its Additional recommendations are included in the section on hydrology in Chapter 4.

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services. Thus, planning and fostering these collaborations must be an impor- tant part of the NWS modernization. Universities The success of the NWS in accomplishing its mission depends on the effective integration of the skills and knowledge of its meteorologists, on employing advancing technology for observing the atmosphere, on continued improvement in its systems for transmitting information and creating numeri- cal simulations and forecasts of atmospheric behavior, and on effective utiliza- tion of new and basic scientific understanding of the atmosphere. Clearly then, the effectiveness of the NWS is dependent on education, on technologi- cal development, and on scientific advances. Thus the Committee believes that the federal government must take a new view of the relationship among NOAA, the NWS, and the atmospheric sciences community, especially in the universities. An important new component of modernization of the NWS should be a strong commitment by NWS and NOAA to strengthen their research partnership with the academic community. The Committee agrees with the NWS intent to collocate, to the extent possible, Weather Forecast Offices with universities offering undergraduate and graduate education in meteorology. Unfortunately, NWS efforts to implement this ideal situation are being impeded by lack of a high-level federal policy on collocation and by ponderous procurement procedures that delay and mitigate against the necessary commitments. • The Administration and Congress should adopt a policy that fosters the collocation of as many Weather Forecast Offices as possible on university campuses with atmospheric science departments. The Committee believes that more intimate and effective collaboration between the NWS and the universities in education and research would greatly benefit both parties and the nation. • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Weather Service should implement enhanced collaboration with universities in the atmospheric and hydrologic sciences, in both education and research. 8

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Private Sector The private sector provides much of the new technology now being implemented in the NWS modernization and also contributes to the techno- logical advances on which operational improvements are based. The primary sources of weather forecasts and warnings for the general public are the mass media: television, radio, and newspapers. Clearly, maintaining effective collaboration with the mass media is crucial, and any inadvertent actions that might impair linkages between the NWS and the media would have serious impacts on the safety and well-being of the populace and on the commercial sector as well. Private weather services, which provide a variety of services regionally, nationally, and even worldwide, constitute another major interface between the NWS and the general public or other elements of the private sector. Thus although these components of the private sector are providing many important services today, they will become even more important in the era of the modernized NWS. Increased attention to collaboration with the private sector will be required as modernization of the NWS continues. • To ensure that the association between the National Weather Service and the private sector functions smoothly and efficiently to the best advan- tage of all parties, including the general public, the constituent affairs activities of the National Weather Service should be strengthened; the Constituent Affairs Officer should act as an ombudsman for the private sector to the Assistant Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmo- spheric Administration for Weather Services, coordinate program changes with the private sector, obtain its inputs to National Weather Service plan- ning and evaluation, and arbitrate or resolve conflicts as they arise.1 Public Institutions Community preparedness is essential to save lives and minimize property damage during severe weather situations. The critical role of the NWS is to participate actively in preparedness planning and then communicate both to state and local governments, and to the public, the seriousness of specific weather situations. A leadership role is necessary, and the Committee believes that a limited, part-time approach to this key function is entirely inadequate. Additional recommendations appear in the section on private weather services, Chapter 5.

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• To ensure adequate community preparedness, professional staff time equivalent to a full-time person should be provided at each Weather Forecast Office to work with state and local governments and other involved agencies in preparing plans for the community's response to severe weather. To maintain liaison with public institutions and to assist in community preparedness, the federal government should consider retaining, with limited staff, most Weather Service Offices now planned for closure. IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS The NWS has done a commendable job in planning its modernization. A new matrix organization is in place and top management staffing is complete. However, both NOAA and the Department of Commerce appear to have a shortage of staff to provide administrative support, such as procure- ment and personnel, and to handle the external contacts with Congress, user groups, and the public that are essential for implementation of the modern- ization and associated restructuring. Moreover, the Committee is concerned that the project management, engineering, and support staff may not be as strong as required for an effort of this magnitude. It appears to the Committee that the NWS lacks an overall policy for configuration control of large systems and for the development and mainte- nance of complex software. System engineering in the NWS environment is vital because of the phased development and because NWS systems must remain operational during upgrading and modernization. • The National Weather Service should establish overall policies and procedures for the development of major systems, including consideration of the interaction between systems, and establish software development and maintenance standards. Overall, the Committee is impressed with the progress that has been made in developing hardware and preparing for field installation. Delays in procurement and funding constraints for the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) are the most serious concerns involving hardware, although there are some troublesome delays in software and hardware for the Next Generation Weather Radar. The AWIPS situation poses a major Several specific recommendations regarding staff increases appear in the section on human and financial resources in Chapter 6. 10

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problem in the Modernization and Associated Restructuring Demonstration and certification process that must precede restructuring of the NWS. The Committee's study to date has not reviewed the system security and resiliency issues involved in modernization. It is apparent, however, that the NWS has concentrated on physical security and has not paid sufficient atten- tion to the security of electronic access. • The National Weather Service should satisfy itself that the security of its data systems will be adequate to preclude a breakdown of critical services in the event of improper intervention, either intentional or inadvertent, in its data and communications systems. The Committee is concerned about the plan to have only one meteorolo- gist on duty during the night shift at each Weather Forecast Office (WFO). The weather is no less life-threatening and damaging at night than during the day and evening. The concept upon which the NWS bases the feasibility of the proposed night shift staffing has not been tested successfully. Therefore, the Committee recommends:1 • The proposal to produce operational forecasts by computer that are equal to or better than current manually produced forecasts and warnings should be demonstrated for a variety of weather conditions and locations. The new procedures should be operational and their efficacy established before the meteorological staff at a Weather Forecast Office is reduced to the proposed one person on the night shift. An alternate operational plan for staffing the night shift should be formulated for use until the proposed concept has been fully developed and proven. The Committee recognizes that many of the suggestions made in this report have a potential impact on the budget for the NWS modernization and associated restructuring. The additional personnel required temporarily to assist in modernization activities could save money in the long term. Although the solution proposed for the problem of limited forecast staff on the night shift at the WFOs may reduce the overall savings visualized from restructuring the NWS until the effectiveness of automation can be demonstrated satisfacto- rily, the Committee believes that this would be compensated by savings to the A related recommendation appears in the section on operational staff in Chapter 6. 11

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public and governments from reduced loss of life and destruction of property. The phasing of funds for NOAA satellites to ensure their continuity and for rectifying the current low incremental funding of the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System program would also require an increase in near- term budgets but would probably reduce the overall cost of implementation. Although the Committee has not received detailed plans for certification to review, it offers two initial observations. First, specific comparisons of the quantity and quality of weather information, forecasts, warnings, and their prompt dissemination must be obtained, both during the Modernization and Associated Restructuring Demonstration and during the process of certifying the capabilities of any WFO to serve its area of responsibility. The Commit- tee believes that carefully constructed and unbiased comparisons will demon- strate a noteworthy improvement in the quality and accuracy of service. Second, to increase the credibility of the certification process in the eyes of user groups and Congress, it may be appropriate, at some stage, to involve an independent evaluation of the statistical and analytical measures developed during the initial operations of the WFOs as applied to each specific certifi- cation. 12