NOAA 99-063
Contact: Susan Harrison


The doors are about to open on a new era of weather safety with the formal dedication today of two new high-tech centers in Kansas City, Mo., operated by the National Weather Service, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Kansas City is a crucial location for NOAA's National Weather Service operations. The city is headquarters for the National Weather Service's Central Region, which manages the operations of weather forecast offices in 14 states. With the dedication of the Aviation Weather Center and the National Training Center, Kansas City will become a weather hub for the entire nation.

"NOAA aims for a ‘no surprise' National Weather Service, where warnings and forecasts will become even more precise and timely and even more people and property will be kept out of harm's way. The dedication of the Aviation Weather Center and National Training Center represents an impressive leap in that direction," said Paul F. Roberts, NOAA's chief financial officer/chief administrative officer.

"All of America can be proud of what is being accomplished in Kansas City. The outstanding work keeps Americans safe and the economy strong, and is helping to maximize the National Weather Service's recent investment in top-to-bottom modernization for the new century," said John Jones, deputy director of the National Weather Service

In addition to Roberts and Jones, speakers at the dedication will include George L. Frederick Jr., president of the American Meteorological Society, and James H. Washington, director of Federal Aviation Administration Air Traffic System Requirements. Also highlighting the dedication ceremonies will be the work of artist Sharon Rajnus. Depicting hazardous aviation weather, her oil painting captured first place in a competition held among members of the American Society of Aviation Artists to commemorate the dedication. Rajnus's work will be displayed at the Aviation Weather Center for one year.

The Aviation Weather Center works around-the-clock to save lives, protect property and bolster the economic productivity of America's airspace. As the nation's primary source of national and international enroute aviation warnings and forecasts, the Aviation Weather Center uses a national network of radar, satellites, interactive computers and communications systems. Data from each is integrated to form a coherent, consistent picture of the atmosphere. Better watches, warnings and forecasts result.

The Air Transport Association plans to recognize the Aviation Weather Center's work with the Edgar S. Gorrell Award for outstanding contributions toward the management of safety and economy in aviation weather.

At the National Training Center, employees are expertly prepared to put critical information to work for the safety of all Americans and the economy of the nation. Twelve classrooms and new laboratories provide hands-on training in all National Weather Service systems – modernized systems that provide continuous weather observations at airports, rainfall for radar flash flood warnings, and global surveillance of the atmosphere by satellites. Courses at the center cover meteorology, hydrology, management and maintenance of all weather service equipment. Next year the center will host seminars in such areas as modernized flood forecasting.

The National Training Center has just completed training personnel of all 121 weather stations and 13 river forecast centers in a specialized hydrologic forecasting system. This new system has the capability to monitor current hydro-meteorological conditions and provide hydrological forecasts for local areas. As a result, forecast capabilities and dissemination are being localized and response time for hydrologic events is improving.