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TOWARD A NEW NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE Assessment of Hydrologic and Hydrometeorological Operations and Services National Weather Service Modernization Committee Commission on Engineering and Technical Systems National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1996

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NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distin- guished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce Alberts is president of the National Acad- emy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. William A. Wulf is interim president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is admin- istered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce Alberts and Dr. William A. Wulf are chairman and interim vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. This study was supported by Contract No. 50-DGNW-5-00004 between the National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis- tration. Copyright 1996 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Available in limited supply from: Transition Program Office National Weather Service, NOAA 1325 East-West Highway Silver Spring, MD 20910 (301) 713-1090 Cover Photo: David D. Vann, The Sentinel-Record, Hot Springs, Arkansas. Printed in the United States of America

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NATIONAL WEATH ER SERVICE MODERN IZATION COM M ITTEE ROBERT J. SERAFIN (chairJ, NAE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado RICHARD A. ANTHES, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado DAVID ATLAS, NAE, Atlas Concepts, Bethesda, Maryland (beginning February 1996) WILLIAM BONNER, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado JOHN P. BRADLEY, Murray and Trettel, Inc., Northfield, Illinois (until February 1996) ROBERT B RAMMER, TASC, Reading, Massachusetts KENNETH C. CRAWFORD, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman DARA ENTEKHABI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge GEORGE J. GLEGHORN, NAE, TRW Space and Technology Group (retired), Rancho Palos Verdes, California WILLIAM E. GORDON, NAE, NAS, Rice University (retired), Houston, Texas ALBERT J. KAEHN, Jr., U.S. Air Force (retired), Burke, Virginia (beginning February 1996) JENANNE L. MURPHY, Hughes Information Technology Corporation, Vienna, Virginia VERONICA F. NIEVA, WESTAT, Inc., Rockville, Maryland DOROTHY C. PERKINS, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Greenbelt, Maryland (beginning February 1996) MARILYN M. WOLFSON, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Lexington (until February 1996) ARTHUR I. ZYGIELBAUM, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena (until February 1996) Hydrology Panel KENNETH C. CRAWFORD, chair DARA ENTEKHABI VERONICA F. NIEVA, advisor Staff FLOYD F. HAUTH, study director MERCEDES ILAGAN, study associate WANDA PRIESTLY, project assistant COURTLAND LEWIS, technical writer . . .

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Preface In a March 1995 contract Statement of Work, the Na- The Hydrology Panel focused on NWS flood and flash tional Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asked flood issues related to the planning and implementation of the National Weather Service Modernization Committee warning and forecast products and services. These issues include operational procedures, new science and technology, quality control, verification procedures, model deficiencies, staffing, training, and management functions. The panel relied heavily on NWS internal documents, interviews, and correspondence at all levels of the NWS and information collected from government and private-sector participants in the overall national hydrology activities. The panel and the committee conducted their analyses and re views in the broad context of the overall NWS moderniza tion. The committee's recommendations are intended to in crease the effectiveness of the modernization program to meet all NWS goals aimed at the improvement of hydrologic and hydrometeorological products and services. The Hydrology Panel visited a carefully selected subset of field locations and interviewed staff members who pro vide flood and flash flood products and services to a wide range of users, including the public, all levels of government agencies, and specialized interests in the private sector such as emergency management, agriculture, and transportation. Staff members interviewed were from all levels of support activity within the NWS organizational structure and who covered all aspects of work processes, ranging from data collection to analysis, forecasting, interacting with users, and related research and development efforts. A questionnaire about hydrology activities and interests was distributed in ternally to all NWS offices with hydrology-related responsi bilities. Responses were received from approximately two thirds of those contacted. (The responses are summarized in the appendix.) In addition, representative users of hydrology products and services were contacted or interviewed to ob tain their perspective on the NWS modernization of hydrol ogy functions. The committee reviewed the data gathered by the Hydrol ogy Panel and analyzed it in the context of the NWS strate gic plan. The committee also reviewed documents related to the modernization of hydrologic and hydrometeorological (NWSMC) of the Commission on Engineering and Techni- cal Systems of the National Research Council (NRC) to "re- view plans and progress, and assess the need for changes or improvements in the hydrology and hydrometeorology prod- ucts and services of the modernized National Weather Ser- vice (NWS), with particular emphasis on the flash flood fore- cast and warning program." In June 1995 the Executive Committee of the NRC authorized the NWSMC to conduct the foregoing study and prepare a report. The NWSMC was asked to undertake the following tasks: Examine the adequacy of plans for modernization of the NWS hydrologic and hydrometeorological products and services for the nation. Examine the progress made by the NWS in improving hydrologic and hydrometeorological products and ser- vices for the nation. Assess the effectiveness of the NWS in incorporating new technology and science in hydrologic and hydro- meteorological products and services for the nation. Identify possible unmet needs in NWS hydrologic and hydrometeorological products and services for the nation. Explore alternative approaches to incorporate scien- tific and technical developments into the modernized NWS hydrologic and hydrometeorological products and services. The NWSMC established a Hydrology Panel to gather information, make a detailed assessment of the status of hy- drology in the NWS organization and operations, and report its findings to the committee. In accordance with its charge, the committee' s report identifies the most critical tasks to be accomplished by the NWS to advance the modernization program and provides recommendations to address deficien- cies identified during the course of the study. v

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v! functions. The committee presents its analyses, findings, conclusions, and recommendations in this report. This study could not have been conducted without the full and willing participation of a wide range of NWS staff members, in particular Mr. Louis G. Boezi, Deputy Assis- tant Administrator for Modernization, and Dr. Edward R. Johnson, Chief, Hydrologic Research Laboratory, both of whom kept the committee abreast of the status of hydrology- related plans and progress in the NWS modernization. I also thank the members of the Hydrology Panel, Drs. Ken Crawford and Dara Entekhabi, for the considerable effort they devoted to this study on behalf of the committee, PREFACE including visiting NWS facilities, conducting interviews, pursuing the questionnaire activities with the help of Dr. Veronica Nieva, advisor to the panel, and drafting the report. On behalf of the committee, I express our appreciation to Mr. Floyd Hauth, study director, and Mrs. Mercedes Ilagan, study associate, for their expert organizational and logistical support, and to consultant Courtland Lewis for his assistance in the preparation of the report. ROBERT J. SERAFIN, chair National Weather Service Modernization Committee

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Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY INTRODUCTION 6 Floods: A Significant National Hazard, 6 Modernization of the National Weather Service, 6 Scope and Organization of the Report, 8 BACKGROUND 9 Hydrology and Meteorology prior to the Modernization Program, 9 Hydrology and Meteorology under the Current Modernization Program, 9 MODERNIZATION OF THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HYDROLOGIC SERVICES: AN EVALUATION Observation Inputs, 19 Tools and Techniques, 24 Operations, 29 Products and Services, 33 19 4 MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONAL SUPPORT 34 Leadership, 34 Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation, 35 Advisory Groups, 36 Field Initiatives, 37 International Projects, 37 Personnel, 37 Training, 38 5 EPILOGUE: AN OVERALL ASSESSMENT 41 REFERENCES . 42 ACRONYMS 43 GLOSSARY APPENDIX: SUMMARY OF SURVEY RESPONSES FROM NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE EMPLOYEES WITH HYDROLOGIC RESPONSIBILITIES ........................................................................... . . vat .44 .49

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Figures, Boxes, and Tables FIG URES BOXES TABLES Notable floods and flash floods from 1987 to 1991, 7 Flow of hydrologic products and guidance through NWS offices prior to modernization, 10 Flow of hydrologic products and guidance through NWS offices under current modernization and associated restructuring, 12 River Forecast Centers, 14 Unique and overlapping aspects of hydrologic forecaster and HAS forecaster functions in the modernized NWS, 15 Hydrologic Predictions, 11 Precipitation Processing System, 20 Hydrologic Processes Modeled by the National Weather Service River Forecast System, 25 Hydrometeorological Functions of the NCEP, RFCs, and WFOs in the Modernized NWS, 13 Summary of Basic Training Courses Available for the Modernized Hydrology Program, 39 Age and Years of Service of Survey Respondents, 49 Participation in Training Programs, 49 Perceived Training Needs, 50 Perceived Training Needs Stratified by Position, 50 Responses to Familiarity Questions, 50 Responses to Familiarity Questions Stratified by Position, 51 Rating of Issues, 51 Rating of Issues Stratified by Position, 51 "Excited and Optimistic" Responses, 51 Six

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