FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Brenda Brock, Pat Slattery
DES MOINES, IOWA - Demonstrating its capabilities during a public open house, the National Weather Service today proclaimed the river forecast system tested at Des Moines a success. The Weather Service will continue the Des Moines demonstration project through the remainder of 1999. The Administration's Fiscal Year 2000 budget proposes expanding the system into the upper Ohio River Valley and upper Midwest beginning in the year 2000. The Des Moines demonstration began in March 1997.
"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 tasked along with the National Weather Service for protecting life and property," Des Moines Meteorologist in Charge Brenda K. Brock said. "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 excited about the benefits 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," Emmett County Emergency Manager Terry Reekers said. "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, Illinois 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 form 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.
Weather Service Headquarters Hydrologist John Ingram and Central Region Director Richard P. Augulis joined Brock in briefing media and others on the new technologies prior to a public open house at the weather forecast office that began at noon. The Des Moines Weather Service staff provided demonstrations of how those technologies work during the open house.
Additional AHPS information from the National Weather Service may be found on the Internet at: http://tgsv5.nws.noaa.gov/oh/ahps/index.htm
Details on the Des Moines AHPS demonstration and current river conditions may be found at: http://www.crh.noaa.gov/dmx after clicking the "WATER" icon.