Contact: Ron Trumbla

NOAA News Releases 2004
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The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded its prestigious Bronze Medal to a NOAA National Weather Service group tasked to design and implement an operational computer backup system for NWS River Forecast Centers serving the southern United States. The group included specialists from the Arkansas-Red River Basin River Forecast Center, Southeast River Forecast Center, West Gulf River Forecast Center, Lower Mississippi River Forecast Center and the Weather Forecast Office in Tulsa, Okla. NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The group's accomplishment resolves a longstanding problem of NWS River Forecast Centers being unable to provide mission critical river forecasts during periods of communication and computer outages. Previously, RFCs relied on manual methods to produce mission critical river forecasts when data or models were unavailable due to communication, computer or facility outages. Those methods have become ineffective due to increased customer requirements, high-resolution data sets, rapid update cycles and more complex computer models.

The team addressed the problem by designing a portable, flexible system that utilizes the basic forecast model and database infrastructure in the NWS' new LINUX PC systems. The team developed new input and back-end data dissemination packages to meet operational requirements for local RFC communications, computer or office facility outages. Members also performed operational tests and determined procedures to implement the system at other RFCs.

As a result of the team's efforts, an RFC can now relocate to any facility with high-speed Internet access and telephone service and have the backup system operational within approximately one hour. The backup is capable of utilizing all of the operational data sets and river forecast models to provide forecasts of the same high quality and timeliness as the nationally supported operational system.

ABRFC team members include Hydrologist-in-Charge Billy Olsen; Development and Operations Hydrologist William Lawrence; Senior Forecaster James Paul; Senior Hydrologists Michael Pierce and Jeffery McMurphy; and, Hydrometeorological Analysis and Support Forecaster Michael Boehmke. The team also included Electronic Systems Analyst Isaiah Daniels (WFO Tulsa); Senior Forecaster Judith Bradberry (SERFC); Senior Hydrologist Patrick Sneeringer (WGRFC); and Senior Hydrologist Eric Jones (LMRFC).

The award was presented at a special ceremony in Washington, D.C. The secretary of commerce presents the Bronze Medal to commerce department offices and employees who have made outstanding or significant contributions in support of the overall departmental goals that serve the nation.

NOAA’s National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. NOAA's National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA 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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