84th AMS Annual Meeting

Thursday, 15 January 2004: 11:15 AM
Navigating Across Lake Paradigm: One Forecast Office's Experiences in Successfully Transforming Operations to Meet the Demands of the NDFD
Room 6A
Joseph DelliCarpini, NOAA/NWSFO, Taunton, MA; and D. R. Vallee
Poster PDF (48.1 kB)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service's (NWS) migration to a National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) and the supporting Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE) software has created a significant operational challenge for many Weather Forecast Offices (WFO). Instead of composing and issuing text products at pre-defined release times, a new methodology is employed using a 5km gridded digital forecast database, which is maintained around the clock. Updates to any portion of this database are driven by the receipt of new data or changing weather events. The database is always current, allowing customers to access desired forecast information from the NDFD, as opposed to customers being constrained by the NWS's predefined issuance times of text products.

The operational transition to this type of methodology has presented a unique opportunity for the staff at WFO Taunton, Massachusetts, to reexamine its shift operations structure. The decision was made to base shift operations coverage and work assignments on model data receipt, rather than on product-based issuance times. To accomplish this change to the shift operations structure, a Short Term - Long Term mode of forecast operations was implemented, where by the Short Term forecaster typically focuses on the first 24 hours and the Long Term forecaster concentrates on the forecast beyond 24 hours. In addition, Hydrometeorological Technicians (HMTs) and Intern Meteorologists, working in concert with the Short Term Forecaster, maintain the first 6 hours of the database and perform short term forecast updates.

A shift rotation schedule was created to staff 10 Meteorologists and a combined total of 5 HMTs and Intern Meteorologists. This new schedule has addressed the requirements of the NDFD, the need to allow maximum flexibility to support warning operations, and the desire to foster a more productive working environment to meet the goals of our local office Weather, Water, and Climate services programs.

This transition, at WFO Taunton, occurred during the early Spring of 2003 and benefits have already been realized. In addition to a significant improvement in employee morale, WFO Taunton has fully integrated its HMTs into the forecast process, now provides routine overlap in operational shift times, and has reduced the impact on the management staff. This paper will discuss the transition to a Short Term - Long Term mode of forecast operations, at WFO Taunton, and how this new mode of forecast operations has allowed the office to meet the demands of NDFD.

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