NOAA 99-24
Contact: Barry Reichenbaugh, Patrick Slattery


The National Weather Service has declared a river forecast system tested since March 1997 to predict flooding a success. The weather service is testing the system at the Des Moines, Iowa, weather forecast office and will continue the demonstration project through the remainder of 1999. The Administration's Fiscal Year 2000 budget proposes expanding the river forecast system into the upper Ohio River Valley and upper Midwest beginning in the year 2000.

"The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction System, or AHPS, has been a huge boon for our office in providing river and flood stage information to local emergency managers and other agencies that have been tasked along with the National Weather Service to protect life and property," said Des Moines Meteorologist-in-Charge Brenda K. Brock. "We have an opportunity now to show how well AHPS works with other new technologies being incorporated into our forecast and warning programs. We're very excited about the benefits all these technologies bring to our jobs of watching the weather."

National Weather Service employees aren't the only ones encouraged by the amount and types of information provided by AHPS; emergency managers and water manager have also seen definite advantages.

"AHPS is very important to me," said Emmett County Emergency Manager Terry Reekers. "Without AHPS, we'd have a real gap in knowing what's coming."

William H. Koellner, water control chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District Office in Rock Island, Ill., said AHPS provides advantages not available before. During one flow event, Koellner said, AHPS forecasts "provided the needed factor of safety to assure that the motors could be reinstalled in the (Mississippi River) locks and dams 48 hours in advance of original plans, saving the navigation industry $300,000."

As of March 17, Des Moines became the first National Weather Service office in the country to employ in its forecast and warning programs all the technological components resulting from the decade-long NWS modernization. On March 15, technicians installed the Automated Weather Information Processing System (AWIPS) at the office. Now Des Moines forecasters can apply AHPS, AWIPS, the WSR-88D radar, satellite data and NOAA Weather Radio 2000 (a computer-voiced upgrade of the nationwide warning network) to daily operations.

"We're still learning AWIPS," Brock said, "but already we've seen significant improvements and time savings in preparing forecasts. AHPS has already proved it can help us provide better river information to emergency managers and others in water management, so we're eager to show how well all these technologies work together in helping us improve the accuracy and timeliness of our forecasts and warnings."

Additional AHPS information from the National Weather Service may be found on the Internet at:

Details on the Des Moines AHPS demonstration and current river conditions may be found at: after clicking the "WATER" icon.

The National Weather Service is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.