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New And Stronger Collaboration Collaboration of the NWS with the academic community, the private sector, and public institutions is essential if the NWS is going to accomplish its mission successfully. Universities supply trained personnel for the NWS and develop much of the new scientific and technological foundation for improving forecasts and warnings. The private sector, through television, radio, and newspapers, is the primary means for the NWS to disseminate its warnings and forecasts. The private sector also provides much of the new technology used by the NWS and a wide variety of additional specialized meteorological and hydrological services that are outside the mission of the NWS. In the public sector, state and local government agencies are the critical link for the community action necessary when the NWS issues warn- ings of severe storms or floods and forecasts of snow storms or other hazard- ous weather phenomena. Strong and effective collaboration between the NWS and these three communities is necessary for the NWS to accomplish its mission, "to provide weather and flood warnings [and] public forecasts...primarily for the protection of life and property" (DOC, 1989, page 2), as well as to improve its services. Thus planning and fostering these collaborations must be an important part of the NWS modernization. The importance that NWS places on this collabo- ration is reflected in one of its goals for the modernization (DOC, 1990, page 7): "Strengthening cooperation with the mass media, universities, the research community, and the private hydrometeorological sector to collectively fulfill the nation's weather information needs from provision of severe weather warnings and general forecasts for the public as a whole, which is a Govern- ment responsibility; to provision of detailed and customer specific weather information, which is a private sector responsibility." 43

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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 technological development, and on scientific advances. For example, the cloud imaging and atmospheric sounding sensor used on the present Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite was conceived by a professor at the University of Wisconsin. 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. It is evident that universities are the sources of the professional employ- ees of the NWS and of much of the research on which current operations are based. Yet the NWS does not have strong ties with the academic community. Most significantly, the vast majority of research and development funded by NOAA and the NWS is performed by in-house organizations and laboratories. In this arrangement, students and university researchers are not stimulated by the most pressing or most interesting NWS scientific issues and opportunities. The NOAA and the NWS are remote from the academic community and are not adequately perceived as presenting scientifically exciting opportunities for young meteorologists. Neither organization receives the stimulation and advice that would flow if it were in more intimate contact with university researchers. The Committee believes, therefore, that an important new component of the modernization of the NWS should be a strong commitment by NWS and NOAA to strengthen their research partnership with the academic community. Some components of NOAA have very effective cooperative institutes on university campuses, staffed by NOAA and academic personnel; however, the NWS has none. Even though the NWS is a mission agency, its success depends on scientific advances and it should participate more broadly in development of the national scientific base in atmospheric and hydrologic sciences. Increased collaborative research is necessary to realize the full benefits of the modernization, for example, by developing the scientific basis for improved numerical prediction models of small-scale atmospheric phenom- ena. Plans for the proposed national Stormscale Operational and Research Meteorology (STORM) program are directed toward improving the under- standing and prediction of these phenomena. Recent recommendations 44

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regarding this program are contained in the report Advancing the Understand- ing and Forecasting ofMesoscale Weather in the United States (NRC, 1990a). The relocation of Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) provides another important opportunity for enhanced collaboration. The Committee agrees with the NWS intent to collocate, to the extent possible, WFOs with universi- ties offering undergraduate and graduate education in meteorology. Such collocation, preferably in intimate proximity to atmospheric science depart- ments, would enable students and faculty to be aware of NWS issues and opportunities, and would provide both motivation and opportunity for NWS meteorologists to continue their studies and to seek advanced degrees. Study of the new data made available by the modernization undoubtedly will result in scientific advances which, in turn, will lead to better forecasts and warnings. 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 commit- ments. Recommendation: 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. It would help to maintain the momentum of the present modernization initiative and lead to a greater involvement of the academic community in the success of the NWS. Recommendation: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin- istration and the National Weather Service should implement enhanced collaboration with universities in the atmospheric and hydrologic sciences, in both education and research. PRIVATE SECTOR Mass Media The only federally operated facility that broadcasts forecasts and warn- ings directly to the public is the NOAA Weather Radio network. Thus, the 45

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primary sources of weather information for the general public, including fore- casts and warnings, are the mass media: television, radio, and newspapers. Clearly, maintaining effective collaboration with the mass media is crucial. The National Implementation Plan for the Modernization and Associated Restructuring of the National Weather Service (DOC, 1990, page 1) states: "The NWS will continue to rely on the mass media as its major method of dissemination of weather and flood warnings and forecasts to the public." Any inadvertent actions that were to impair the 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 Private weather services provide a major interface between the NWS and the general public or other elements of the private sector. There are a few hundred such services in the United States, most of which are very small and provide specialized services, usually in a local area. The several large organi- zations that exist generally provide a larger variety of services nationally or even worldwide (e.g., weather or ocean forecasts in support of optimum ship routing, weather forecasts for aviation, or crop-weather information in support of agricultural operations). The value-added services that the private meteorological community should continue to provide include • generating data and information (forecasts and analyses) based on output from the NWS, usually collated and reformatted for clarity and convenience of use, and redistributing the resulting products to a variety of users ranging from large media organizations to individual subscribers; • compiling and reorganizing NWS data into tailored regional or local information products for the media; • utilizing NWS data to make specialized, highly detailed, or locally ori- ented forecasts for operational use by such entities as municipalities, utilities, industrial plants, agribusiness, marine and air transportation, and general aviation; • generating and maintaining a database of observations and analyses acquired in real time from the NWS, often correcting errors in content and format, to provide the data to consumers in a more utilitarian mode than may be available directly from NOAA; and • advising individuals or organizations, either to clarify weather information received from any source or to provide more depth, detail, or alternative 46

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opinions regarding the information itself or its implications for a particular customer's activities. The NWS modernization plan appropriately recognizes the contributions and responsibilities of the private sector. It mandates that meteorological data and information products be available to the private sector. The general information content now available on the "Family of Services," the principal real-time data and information transmission link today from the NWS to the private sector, will be incorporated into the NOAAPORT broadcast; however, a much larger volume of data will be involved. A detailed and definitive description of how the NWS communication system will function and evolve until the completion of modernization should be developed in collaboration with representatives of the user community. Recommendation: The National Weather Service should develop detailed plans for evolution of the communication of data and prod- ucts to the private sector (including the academic community) during modernization; such planning should be undertaken in collaboration with the user communities. Outlook The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act passed in October 1990, author- izes NOAA to sell its data, information, and products at fair market prices, rather than for only the added cost of provision as in the past. The Act calls for the collection of fees NOAA-wide not exceeding $2 million in each of fiscal years 1991 to 1993 and $3 million in 1994 and 1995. Certain products can be excluded from added fees, such as warnings and watches, exchanges under international agreements, and those for noncommercial use of govern- ment and nonprofit institutions. The NOAA is conducting a market analysis for a wide variety of its outputs that appear to have commercial value, to provide a basis for setting their cost. The proposed fee structure will be pub- lished in the Federal Register; 30 days will be allowed for comments prior to implementation. The Committee is concerned that a significant increase in fees could put vital NWS weather information beyond the financial reach of the majority of private weather organizations, potentially resulting in a significant loss of quality, service, and economic utility to the ultimate user and the public at large. This may vitiate the policy that the private sector should be the primary means for disseminating official forecasts to the public and for providing all specialized weather services (many formerly provided by the government). 47

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Recommendation: The Department of Commerce, in implementing the law to increase payments of user fees, should consult with the affected user community to minimize the impact such increases will have on the vital weather services of this nation. The NWS Constituent Affairs Officer in the NOAA Office of Legislative Affairs has been serving as the primary point of contact for consultation and coordination with the private sector on matters of mutual interest or concern, such as the issue of user fees discussed above. In recent years, this function has been handled commendably by the Constituent Affairs Officer. However, with the growing complexity of the NWS systems and the increasing amount of legislation impinging on collaboration with the private sector, a strengthen- ing of the office appears necessary. Recommendation: To ensure that the association between the National Weather Service and the private sector functions smoothly and efficiently to the best advantage 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 Atmospheric 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. The National Implementation Plan (DOC, 1990, page 43) states that "the Transition Program Office has drafted a national plan to design, execute, monitor and evaluate a systematic NWS program to provide for communica- tions exchange and technical coordination with both the internal and external communities either affected by, or interested in, modernization activities." The Committee assumes that the plan embraces all sectors of the external community and looks forward to examining the adequacy of the plan during the coming months. 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

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weather situations. A leadership role is necessary, and the Committee believes that a limited, part-time approach to this key function is entirely inadequate. Many of the expected improvements in the forecasting of storms and severe weather will go to waste if there is inadequate planning for response to the improved watches and warnings. The flash floods on June 14, 1990, in the vicinity of Shadyside, Ohio caused 26 fatalities and extensive property damage. Anticipating the flood event, the Weather Service Forecast Office in Cleveland issued a Flood Watch about two hours prior to the flood (NOAA, 1991a). Although the Flood Watch was promptly broadcast by local television and radio stations and the Flood Watch message was successfully received by the Belmont County Sheriffs office, it was not relayed from that office to the Shadyside police or the county emergency management coordinator. This example points out the need for close and frequent coordination between the NWS and public insti- tutions. This will become even more important with the advent of new tech- nology in the NWS modernization whereby a major improvement will occur in the continuous monitoring of weather phenomena that pose a threat to life and property. Effective warning and preparedness require adequate planning, coordination, and education at the national, regional, and local levels. Recommendation: 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. 49