Who We Are
What We Do
This includes data from familiar technologies such as weather radars and satellites and also less-familiar technologies such as data buoys for marine observations and surface observing systems for data that help the aviation industry. The National Weather Service's highly trained and skilled workforce uses sophisticated computer models, and high-speed communications systems to generate data, outlooks, forecasts and warnings.
Trained community volunteers enhance weather service operations. Cooperative observers collect weather data that becomes part of the nation's climate records. Storm spotters provide the National Weather Service with visual confirmation of severe weather events.
With the completion of the $4.5 billion modernization program, the agency is now a leaner, more efficient operation, with 121 field offices, 13 River Forecast Centers and nine national centers. The modernized, streamlined weather service is good government and supports NOAAs commitment to creating a government that works better and costs less.
Ongoing research and development efforts yield breakthroughs in all areas of weather, hydrologic and climate forecasting. Advances in climate forecast modeling, for example, allowed National Weather Service scientists to predict the onset of the 1997-98 El Niño event as early as late 1996.
The National Weather Service maintains the largest meteorological telecommunications switching center in the world, sending and receiving around 400,000 weather bulletins each day through a gateway in Silver Spring, Md. This data originates from weather offices around the country.
Weather warnings don't mean anything if they aren't received by those in harm's way. The National Weather Service broadcasts public life-saving information during severe weather events and other hazardous situations on the NOAA Weather Radio network. The newest models of NOAA Weather Radios can be programmed to sound an alert for individual counties. This feature has been known to wake people with warnings when they are asleep. In addition, the National Weather Service relies on its partners in emergency management and the media to help get out severe warnings and critical forecasts keeping communities safe.
The National Weather Service uses the Internet to reach a growing number of the online population. Information includes official forecasts and warnings as well as outlooks and summaries on climate topics such as El Niño. Most weather service Internet sites are linked to the National Weather Service home page at the following address: http://www.nws.noaa.gov
What Are the Benefits
Every day, millions of weather-based
economic decisions are made in agriculture, transportation, power,
construction, and other sectors of the economy. Weather and flood
conditions affect the entire economy in many direct and indirect
ways. Better weather, hydrologic and climate forecasts and information
bring new economic opportunities to almost every sector of the
economy. The labor-intensive construction industry contributes
more than $200 billion annually to the U.S. economy, and is directly
dependent on accurate short- and long-range weather forecasts.
National Weather Service forecasts are also critical to the commercial
and private transportation sector, including airline shipping
and trucking industries, nationally and internationally. Airlines,
for example, rely on short-term forecasts to best position their
aircraft and adjust flight routes. Long-term climate forecasts
help city managers better manage the
The National Weather Service is making great strides to improve weather forecasts and warnings, with its vision of becoming America's "no surprise" weather service. The weather service has doubled the warning lead-time for tornados to approximately 12 minutes over the last five years. This extra time saves lives. Today's three-to-four day forecast is as accurate as the two day forecast was 15 years ago. The National Weather Service is working to make the 6-10 day forecast as accurate as the forecast for tomorrow.
Products issued around the clock
by the National Weather Service affect the lives of every American.
Important advances in the science of meteorology and hydrology,
coupled with major new technological capabilities for observing
and analyzing the atmosphere, will allow the National Weather
Service to continue providing unprecedented weather services
to the Nation.
Updated January 2002