NOAA 99-067
Contact: Susan Weaver


From its weather satellites 22,300 miles in the sky, to its ground based weather radar systems, NOAA's National Weather Service has tested its computer systems and is confident that the weather forecasts and warnings that help keep the public safe and informed will operate as usual as Y2K begins on Jan. 1, 2000.

The Year 2000 issue, commonly referred to as Y2K, is rooted in the way many computer systems handle dates using a two-digit year code. Weather products, such as forecasts, watches and warnings, are unaffected by the Y2K date change, since they use only a two-digit day of the month and a four-digit Universal Coordinated Time (also known as Greenwich Mean 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.

"The American public can rest assured the National Weather Service will continue to provide timely weather information as we enter the new millennium," said John J. Kelly Jr., director of the weather service arm of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "All of our systems are tested and ready to go."

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 help shape business judgments on transportation safety and the economy.

Since 1996, NWS has worked to ensure that all of its mission critical systems are Y2K ready. Satellites, Doppler radars, automated ground sensors, 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 that all weather systems are able to exchange and process weather data properly when the calendar change occurs.

As weather data is used and disseminated by many clients and partners, the National Weather Service has also worked with its customers, which include telecommunications and power companies, federal government agencies, private
weather vendors, airlines and international institutions, to ensure uninterrupted service. Special tests that included many NWS partners were successfully completed, with all systems functioning properly.

"Regardless of what else the new century may bring," said Kelly, "the National Weather Service will continue to provide an uninterrupted flow of weather data, products, and support to our customers and the general public."

For further information, visit the National Weather Service Internet site for Y2K information at