NOAA 2000-253
Contact: Barry Reichenbaugh


The National Weather Service declared the last of its new interactive computer and communications system units fully operational today with the commissioning of the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System at the Alaska River Forecast Center in Anchorage. This was the last of 139 units commissioned nationally since January 2000.

AWIPS is the centerpiece of a $4.5 billion modernization of the National Weather Service. Each NWS office develops its forecasts using weather information streaming in from Doppler radar, satellites, automated observing systems, and NWS super computers. The forecasters use AWIPS to convert these huge amounts of data into useful forecasts and warnings and rapidly communicate accurate, up-to-date weather information to the public.

"This milestone signals the official beginning of a new era in modern forecast operations for the National Weather Service," said retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of the NWS. "Americans today have the best weather services and the most advanced weather technology of any nation."

AWIPS is an integral part of that advanced technology.

"AWIPS is terrific," said Gene Auciello, meteorologist-in-charge of the NWS Forecast Office in Albany, N.Y. "It saves our forecasters a lot of time and lets them spend more of their time following and predicting the paths of storms."

"The modernization of the National Weather Service is a major accomplishment that represents government at its best," said Kelly. "We are now providing faster, more accurate warnings for severe weather than we were in 1993. We have doubled our 1993 average advance warning for tornadoes to 12 lifesaving minutes. We have nearly doubled our advance warning for flash floods to 40 minutes. Not only have we doubled the lead times, but we've also improved our accuracy."

The AWIPS communications network is a prime contributor to NWS successes in speeding warnings to the public. The network is composed of a high-speed, dedicated Intranet that interconnects all AWIPS sites; a satellite broadcast network that provides each site high resolution weather satellite data and computer-generated forecasts from NOAA's super computers; and a network control facility to control the communications network and monitor all site equipment.

AWIPS also benefits the Weather Service's many customers who enjoy access to more forecast information, data and graphical products through a larger, faster data pipeline. Users of NWS forecasts, warnings and data include the general public, business interests, TV weathercasters and private forecasting companies, private research organizations, universities, and government agencies. The AWIPS satellite broadcast network, known as NOAAPORT, makes NOAA satellite imagery, model guidance, forecasts and warnings available to anyone having the correct satellite receiving equipment.

AWIPS has earned several distinguished awards for innovation: including a Computerworld/Smithsonian Award for using technology in an innovative way to benefit society; a "Best of What's New" award from Popular Science magazine; and a Government Technology Leadership Award given by Government Executive magazine to recognize information/communications technology projects that have made exceptional contributions to mission accomplishment, cost effectiveness, and service to the public.