NOAA 99-089
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Scott Smullen
12/27/99

NOAA'S NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE HAS SPECIAL Y2K TEAM WATCHING THE NATION'S WEATHER AND ENSURING READINESS

As the countdown to the end of 1999 continues and public interest intensifies, NOAA's National Weather Service remains confident the weather forecasts and warnings that help keep the public safe and informed will be available as usual as the year begins. To ensure all contingencies are covered, specialists will staff a Y2K Situation Desk that will be in contact with every weather forecast office in the country to have a window to the nation's weather prediction system from Dec. 30 through Jan. 1, 2000.

"We are ready for the new millennium," declared John J. Kelly Jr., director of the National Weather Service, an arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "As proof of our commitment to serve the American public, we will have Y2K specialists monitoring the nation's weather offices to ensure we continue to provide timely weather information as midnight falls across the nation."

The Y2K Situation Desk is located at weather service headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., and will receive regular reports from regional offices, special operations monitoring sites, and other international Y2K situation desks. This desk will be linked to the standard, 24 hours a day, seven days a week forecast operations that the National Weather Service maintains at all times.

Weather products, such as forecasts, watches and warnings, are unaffected by the two-digit year code associated with Y2K concerns, as NWS uses a two-digit day of the month and a four-digit Universal Coordinated Time hour in the header of each product. For example, on the 25th day of any month at 1700 hours, the only date information in the header of the data would be 251700.

Also, as the Universal Coordinated Time (also known as Greenwich Mean Time) is set at zero meridian, located in Greenwich, England, the month/time code used on weather products will change to 010000 at 7:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (0000 hours UTC) on Dec. 31, 1999.

Since 1996 the National Weather Service has worked to ensure all of its mission critical systems are Y2K ready. NOAA satellites, Doppler radars, automated surface observing systems, sophisticated computers, and a network of weather forecast facilities throughout the country were assessed, renovated as necessary, and validated. Additional tests were successfully carried out to ensure all systems are able to exchange and process weather data properly when the calendar change occurs.

As weather data are used and disseminated by many clients and partners, the National Weather Service also conducted a series of integrated end-to-end Y2K tests with its customers to ensure uninterrupted service. These tests involved other federal government agencies, private weather vendors, and airlines and international institutions. These end-to-end tests were successfully completed, and demonstrated Y2K readiness of all mission critical systems.

The National Weather Service is responsible for protecting lives and property, and its activities touch the lives of every citizen each day, from a simple decision about carrying an umbrella to those that impact safety and the economy.

For further information, visit the National Weather Service Internet site for Y2K information at http://www.oso1.x3.nws.noaa.gov/y2k/. During the period from Dec. 30 through Jan. 1, updates will be regularly posted to this page.