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Summary of Survey Responses from National Weather Service Employees with Hydrologic Responsibilities In April 1995 the Hydrology Panel of the National Weather Service Modernization Committee (NWSMC) sup- plied the NWS Office of Hydrology with a questionnaire and asked that all NWS employees with hydrologic respon- sibilities be provided copies. Recipients were instructed to return the completed questionnaires directly to the NWSMC anonymously. Out of a total of 275 questionnaires that were distributed, 211 were completed and returned to the NWSMC. The 77 percent response rate and the commentar- ies received along with the questionnaires indicated a sig- nificant level of cooperation and interest by NWS personnel who have hydrologic responsibilities. The chief objectives of the questionnaire were (1) to gather basic statistics on the background and service history of NWS personnel with hydrologic responsibilities, (2) query personnel familiarity and perspectives on various compo- nents of the NWS modernization program, and (3) provide information to the NWSMC Hydrology Panel about NWS offices not visited by the panel. The results of the question- naire were used principally to support the NWSMC Hydrol- ogy Panel's analysis of issues leading to the conclusions and recommendations contained in this report. The questionnaire yielded a useful profile of the NWS personnel with hydro- logic responsibilities. This appendix provides a selective summary of questionnaire quantitative results that are of ei- ther historical or management interest and that are relevant to the conclusions and recommendations in the report. Dif- ferences in the responses of field personnel (primarily op- erational duties) and those of managers/planners/research personnel are discussed in the following sections. PERSONNEL AGES AND SERVICE RECORDS Of all the respondents, 75 percent had operational tasks in NWS field offices. Eleven percent worked in management and 13 percent held staff positions in the Office of Hydrol- ogy or research laboratories. Table A-1 shows the age, years of NWS service, and years of NWS service in hydrology positions. The median age was 40; two-thirds of the work 49 TABLE A-1 Age and Years of Service of Survey Respondents Age Percentile Service Years of NWS Years in Hydrologic Operational Duties 33rd percentile Median 90th percentile 35 40 55 25 5 9.5 20 3 5.5 force were over 35 years of age. NWS personnel with hydro- logic responsibilities had, as a median, 9.5 years of service at the NWS. The median number of years in positions that in- volve hydrologic duties was significantly less, at 5.5 years. This implies that possibly a large fraction of NWS personnel with hydrologic responsibilities transitioned into their cur- rent positions from other NWS jobs unrelated to hydrology. TRAINING AND BACKGROUND The educational background of the respondents also re- flects this transition to hydrologic operational duties from other fields. Half of the respondents held degrees in hydrol- ogy or closely related fields. Half of the respondents were schooled formally in meteorology and received their hydro- logic training through the NWS, the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education, and Training (COMET), or correspondence courses. Table A-2 shows the TABLE A-2 Participation in Training Programs (in percent) Personnel with Course Atmospheric Sciences Degree Personnel with Hydrology Related Degrees NWS Training Center: Basic Operational Hydrology NWS Training Center: Flash Flood COMET 46 35 52 Correspondence courses 75 30 30 45 48
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so ASSESSMENT OF HYDROLOGIC AND HYDROMETEOROLOGICAL OPERATIONS AND SERVICES TABLE A-3 Perceived Training Needs (in percent) TABLE A-4 Perceived Training Needs Stratified by Position (in percent) Need Immediate Current Knowledge Training Need Training Adequate Office of Hydrology Training Need and Field Personnel Regional Personnel Systems 48 16 Hydrologic processes 21 46 Systems 53 (10)a 34 (34) River flood forecasting 25 42 Hydrologic 25 (45) 12 (57) Flash flood forecasting 19 37 River flood 32 (40) 6 (52) Use of QPF 20 29 Flashflood 21 (35) 12 (53) Use of NEXRAD products 18 35 participation of NWS personnel with hydrologic responsi- bilities in continuing education courses and training courses offered by NWS. The level of participation is stratified ac- cording to formal degree background. The largest differ- ence between the two groups was the reliance on external correspondence courses by those NWS personnel with hy- drologic responsibilities who earned atmospheric science degrees (75 percent for those with meteorology backgrounds versus 48 percent for those with declared hydrology back- grounds).i Chapter 4 of this report discusses of some key . . . training Issues. Table A-3 shows that there were immediate needs for training on NWS systems currently in use or coming online as perceived by the NWS personnel themselves. Half of the personnel perceived an immediate need for systems training, whereas only 16 percent were comfortable with their current level of knowledge. Conversely, nearly half of the respon- dents believed that their knowledge of hydrologic processes was adequate, whereas 21 percent expressed a strong desire for additional education and training in this area. With re- spect to operational topics such as river flood forecasting, flash flood forecasting, and use of quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs) and NEXRAD products, approximately one-fifth of the personnel believed that they required imme- diate training, whereas nearly one-third believed that they did not need additional training. When the perceived training needs are stratified accord- ing to field personnel or management and research person- nel (Table A-4), it is clear that the field personnel perceived a greater need for systems training. Although only 34 per- cent of management or research personnel reported an im- mediate need for systems training, 53 percent of the field personnel stated that they required additional training imme- diately. Only 10 percent of the field personnel were confi- dent about their current level of systems training, whereas 34 percent of the management or research personnel indi- cated no immediate need for systems training. Similarly, larger percentages of field personnel expressed an immedi- ate need for training in hydrologic processes (25 percent), iThe latter group includes those employees with degrees in fields such as earth sciences or geology in which hydrology is not formally included as a r major IOCUS. aNumbers indicate the percentage of respondents who reported an "im- mediate need." Numbers in parenthesis are the percentages reporting "no need." river flood forecasting (32 percent), and flash flood forecast- ing (21 percent). Respondents with management or research duties perceived considerably less immediate need (12 per- cent, 6 percent, and 12 percent, respectively). FAM I LIARITY WITH MODERN IZATION In responses to a series of questions designed to gauge the familiarity that NWS personnel with hydrologic responsi- bilities have with the NWS modernization program, impor- tant strengths and deficiencies were identified. Table A-5 shows the range of responses to a number of topics. There were mixed responses to the questions on familiarity with the various parts of the modernization. Approximately one- third of the respondents were very familiar, and one-third or less were somewhat familiar or unfamiliar with topics such as the NWS modernization, NWS hydrology modernization, River Forecast Center (RFC) and Weather Forecast Office (WFO) operations, and NEXRAD products.2 Apparently the Precipitation Processing System (PPS), data quality control, and Advanced Hydrologic Prediction System (AMPS) were not widely recognized as familiar topics. Only a small mi- nority (9 percent to 17 percent) of the personnel stated that they are very familiar with these topics. The majority of TABLE A-5 Responses to Familiarity Questions (in percent) Aspect of Modernization Very Familiar Somewhat Familiar or Unfamiliar NWS modernization Hydrology modernization RFC operations WFO operations NEXRAD products Precipitation Processing System Data quality control AHPS 36 37 34 24 23 17 9 11 16 22 28 41 33 44 77 74 2The standard convention in survey methodology is to group "very fa- miliar" with "somewhat familiar," as distinct from "unfamiliar." The re- sponses are clustered differently here to highlight the "very familiar" re- sponse, which is the desired response in terms of proficiency in carrying out hydrology-related tasks in the context of the NWS modernization.
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APPENDIX TABLE A-6 Responses to Familiarity Questions Stratified by Position (in percent) Field Personnel Aspect of Modernization Office of Hydrology and Regional Personnel NWS modernization Hydrology modernization RFC operations WFO operations AHPS 29 (18)a 29 (22) 29 (29) 24 (38) 7 (80) 54 (12) 68 (10) 53 (19) 29 (41) 43 (31) aNumbers indicate percentage of respondents who reported they were "very familiar" with the topic. Numbers in parentheses are the percentages that responded "somewhat familiar" or "unfamiliar." the personnel rated themselves as somewhat familiar or un- familiar with data quality control and the AMPS. When these responses are stratified according to field versus management and research positions, it reveals that the perceived lack of familiarity was more prevalent among field personnel. Table A-6 shows the percentage of responses to familiarity questions stratified according to position. Whereas 54 percent of management and research personnel considered themselves very familiar with NWS moderniza- tion (68 percent for clear familiarity with modernization in hydrology), only 29 percent of the field personnel perceived that they were very familiar with either the overall modern- ization or hydrologic modernization activities. This differ- ence also applies to familiarity with RFC and WFO opera- tions, and it is most striking in the case of the AMPS. Eighty percent of field personnel considered themselves somewhat familiar or unfamiliar with the AMPS (which includes the Water Resources Forecasting System and extended stream- flow prediction). In contrast, nearly half of personnel in management or research positions at the Office of Hydrol- ogy and regional headquarters reported that they were very familiar with the AMPS. Familiarity also shows predictable trends with respect to age and years of service; personnel new to the program were less familiar with the moderniza- tion program and its components. 51 half of the personnel responding were optimistic that NWS services and products will be improved as a result of the modernization. More than half of the respondents perceived that field personnel involvement had been inadequate. Mis- sion and vision issues were also perceived by many as being inadequately defined. TABLE A-8 Rating of Issues Stratified by Position (in percent) Issue Field Personnel Office of Hydrology and Regional Personnel Improved services Mission and vision Field personnel involvement 45 (24)a 18 (45) 11 (68) 68 (4) 34 (30) 16 (40) aNumbers indicate percent of respondents who rated issues as "excel- lent" and "very good." Numbers in parentheses are the percent of respon- dents who rated issues as "fair" and "poor." The stratification of these ratings by duties and positions in Table A-8 (field personnel and forecasters versus manag- ers and research scientists) reveals that the former group was considerably less confident about the issues. Whereas a ma- jority (68 percent) of Office of Hydrology and regional head- quarters personnel believed that services will be improved, only 44 percent of field personnel shared that confidence. Mission and vision definitions show similar asymmetry. For example, 67 percent of field personnel felt that field person- nel involvement in the NWS modernization was lacking. Only 40 percent of the managers and research scientists in the Office of Hydrology and regional headquarters perceived shortcomings in that area. TABLE A-9 "Excited and Optimistic" Responses (in percent) Service Type Percent Responding OUTL00K River flood forecasting 78 Water management 56 Table A-7 shows how NWS personnel with hydrologic . . Flash flood pred~chon 76 responsibilities rated some general issues. Approximately Hydrologic use of QPF 64 TABLE A-7 Rating of Issues (in percent) Issue Excellent or Very Good Fair or Poor Improved services Mission and vision Field personnel involvement 49 25 11 21 40 61 In general, the NWS personnel with hydrologic responsi- bilities were excited and optimistic about the future potential (within seven years) to meet and exceed the public needs for NWS hydrologic services. Table A-9 shows the percentage responses from NWS hydrology staff who rated themselves as excited and optimistic in the various topic areas.
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