NOAA 2001-108
Contact: Keli Tarp


The radar troubleshooters who keep the nation's weather radars running will celebrate on Nov. 4, 10 years of providing technical and scientific support to the worldwide network of Doppler weather radars operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Defense Department and the Department of Transportation.

Part of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) Hotline team operates out of NOAA's Radar Operations Center based in Norman, Okla. The NEXRAD team provides telephone and onsite assistance to thousands of NOAA National Weather Service, Federal Aviation Administration, Air Force and Navy weather forecasters and system operators worldwide, whenever needed.

NEXRAD Doppler weather radar is a key component of the $4.5 billion weather service modernization program. Meteorologists and electronics technicians staff the NEXRAD Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week supporting the complex mix of computers, software, radar hardware and communication systems used by weather forecasters to identify severe storm patterns and provide early warnings to communities throughout the United States and U.S. military facilities.

"Ultimately, all Americans benefit from the services provided by the NEXRAD Hotline team," said Jim Belville, director of the Radar Operations Center, which provides centralized meteorological, software, maintenance and engineering support for all NEXRAD systems. "NEXRAD Doppler weather radar, in part, has helped weather service forecasters double the warning lead time for tornadoes to a nearly 11- minute average in 2000. Longer warning lead times potentially save lives."

Hotline team members resolve nearly 1,000 problems each month for NEXRAD radar sites and local weather offices throughout the network, enabling each site to get back in operation quickly and meet their critical warning responsibilities.

The hotline was originally chartered in April 1988 and began official operations Nov. 4, 1991, in conjunction with the start of federal use of the first three NEXRAD radar systems located in Norman, Okla., Sterling, Va., and Melbourne, Fla. Initial operations were 12 hours daily on weekdays with specialists available on call at all other times. Continuous operations began on July 6, 1992 – coinciding with the first formal government acceptances of NEXRAD systems.

Since 1991, the hotline team has processed and resolved more than 93,000 requests for assistance from a customer base of over 5,000 operations and maintenance personnel at 300 field sites worldwide.

In annual customer surveys, the hotline consistently scores comprehensive customer approval ratings of 93 to 95 percent. The hotline team's record of solving problems on the initial call consistently exceeds the widely accepted industry excellence benchmark of 80 percent – placing them in the top percentiles of the worldwide support industry for effectiveness.

"Timely resolution of system problems to the satisfaction of our diverse customers, who are often under pressure during severe weather operations when they call, demonstrates how the hotline team uses teamwork and technical experience to put its customers first," Daryl Covey, hotline manager, said. "The result of our customer support has been extremely high availability and effectiveness of the government's primary weather warning system, and unprecedented high quality of the radar-based weather warnings our citizens rely on to be safe."

The Hotline team has been recognized with numerous awards since it was established, including a Vice President's Hammer Award for Reinventing Government, the Department of Commerce Silver Medal and Customer Service Excellence Awards, and the Federal Agency Excellence Award from Government Computer News Magazine.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.

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