NOAA 95-30

Contact:  Stephanie Kenitzer                  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
          (301) 713-0622                         5/18/95


The National Meteorological Center, the heart of the National Weather Service's data collection, analysis and prediction operations, is restructuring its services to better serve the public and the modernized National Weather Service. New services will include operational climate and ocean prediction as well as short-range weather prediction.

To reflect this new scope of services, the center has been renamed the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP).

Virtually all the meteorological data collected over the globe arrive at the NCEP, where they are analyzed and used to generate a variety of products that are distributed to weather service field offices, private meteorologists, the media, government offices and the international meteorological community. Significant advances in weather forecasting technology and numerical weather modeling facilitated the NCEP restructuring.

"Numerical modeling science has attained maturity beyond weather forecasting and now can be applied to predicting climate and ocean variations," said Ronald D. McPherson, NCEP director. "The restructured centers allow us to take advantage of these advances in meteorology, oceanography and supercomputing to provide forecasts and predictions for economic benefit and security of life and property."

The NCEP, headquartered in Camp Springs, Md., has nine components that work together to provide a broad suite of forecasts: seven science-based, service-oriented centers to generate environmental predictions; and two central support centers to develop and operate the numerical models on which the predictions are based.

The new Storm Prediction Center, co-located with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., provides short-term hazardous weather guidance for the continental United States for heavy rains, flash floods and winter storms. Primary customers of the Storm Prediction Center are National Weather Service field forecasters.

The Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Mo., advises and warns of wind, temperature and flight hazards for domestic and international aviation. The high-altitude and international flight advisory functions now located in Camp Springs, Md., will be consolidated in the new center, for more cohesive responses to the aviation community.

The Tropical Prediction Center in Coral Gables, Fla., moving to the Florida International University campus in Miami on May 31, issues watches, warnings, forecasts and analyses for tropical weather conditions. The Tropical Prediction Center includes the well-known National Hurricane Center, responsible for tracking and forecasting tropical cyclones along the U.S. coastline.

The Marine Prediction Center, a joint National Weather Service/National Ocean Service facility to be located in Monterey, Calif., will issue forecasts and warnings for hazardous weather and sea conditions in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, Gulf of Mexico and offshore areas of Alaska, and the east and west coastal waters of the United States. The forecasts will support marine safety and navigation, coastal ecosystem health, fisheries, recreational boating, climate and other national and international programs.

The Space Environment Center in Boulder, Colo., provides national and international forecasts, alerts and warnings of conditions in the global space environment. The center issues specific predictions of the activity level of space weather for the next three days and more general predictions up to several weeks in advance, and provides monthly summaries of observed solar-terrestrial conditions.

The Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., continues diagnosing and analyzing climate, and now also generates climate predictions. The center provides climate outlooks from two weeks to several seasons in length.

The Hydrometeorological Prediction Center in Camp Springs, Md., provides basic forecasts for the nation's meteorological community out to five days in the future. The center uses radar, satellite and conventional data and model predictions as input for forecasts that alert field offices of potential flash floods and heavy snow. The Center coordinates with the Storm Prediction Center and the Tropical Prediction Center during severe storm and hurricane events.

In addition to these seven service units, two support centers, both located in Camp Springs, Md., develop and operate numerical models required for NCEP forecasts.

The Environmental Modeling Center coordinates with the external research community via its Model Test Facility to research and develop numerical modeling of the dynamic processes of the oceans and atmosphere, and the interactions between the ocean, land and atmosphere. The facility also develops small- scale and global atmospheric and oceanic models and sea surface temperature models. These improved modeling systems support the forecast requirements of the seven service centers.

NCEP Central Operations is responsible for all aspects of NCEP's operations. The center provides management, procurement, development, installation, maintenance and operation of all computing and communication-related services linking all the national centers together.

The restructuring is part of the National Weather Service's modernization program to provide improved, more accurate forecasts. The modernization program also consists of new national systems for radar, satellites, information processing and communications, and automated surface and upper air observations.

The National Meteorological Center was established in 1958 to transfer the discipline of numerical weather prediction from the research environment to operational weather forecasting.