NOAA 2000-213
Contact: Bob Chartuk


A crucial milestone in the modernization of the National Weather Service was reached this week at the Northeast River Forecast Center in Taunton, Mass. with the commissioning of a new computer and communications system that will carry the office into the 21st century with the world's most advanced weather technology.

Known as AWIPS, the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System is the unifying component of a $4.5 billion NWS upgrade that saw the construction of the river center, in addition to a weather forecast office and Doppler radar facility at Taunton.

"With weather information streaming in from Doppler radar, satellites, automated observing systems, and NWS super computers, AWIPS gives us the ability to convert huge amounts of data into useful forecasts and warnings," said Ronald Martin, hydrologist-in-charge of the Northeast RFC. "Equally important, AWIPS enables us to rapidly communicate accurate and up-to-date weather information to the public."

Forecasters were previously handicapped by having to retrieve weather data from various systems before it could be looked at in its entirety. "AWIPS puts all weather information onto one workstation and then gives the forecaster a means to quickly turn it around to the public," Martin explained. "The river forecast center staff is both excited and proud to be using a system second to none."

The Northeast RFC is responsible for providing flood forecasts and other hydrological information to NWS weather forecast offices across New England and New York.

Installed at 152 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration sites across the country, AWIPS was the only federal winner of a prestigious Computer World Smithsonian award in 1999.

"Over the next few years, weather, water, and climate prediction accuracy is expected to increase significantly because of the weather service's modernized systems, resulting in over $7 billion each year in economic benefits," said William M. Daley, U.S, secretary of commerce.

The river forecast center AWIPS is the first to be commissioned in the northeast U.S.