National Weather Service Office Charleston
Volume II, Issue 1
5777 S. Aviation Ave. Charleston, SC 29406 Editor- Robert Crapulli
843-744-0303 Spotter reports..... 800-897-0823 Internet: wchs.csc.noaa.gov
NOAA Weather Radio Changes Console Replacement System (CRS)
All branches of the federal government are being asked to do their share to lower costs, improve efficiency and reduce staffing levels. The National Weather Service, as an agency of the US Government, is no exception.
The new Console Replacement System will automatically translate written National Weather Service forecasts and warnings into synthesized-voice recordings and schedule them for broadcast on NOAA Weather Radio.
This new automated system provides faster broadcasts of severe weather watches, warnings, and emergency information over NOAA Weather Radio because multiple warnings can be both recorded and transmitted at once. This capability dramatically speeds up the broadcast of warnings during multiple severe weather events.
The automated technology will also significantly reduce the time it takes National Weather Service staff to record NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts . It will allow them to de-ote more time to critical warning services and forecast duties.
As we streamline our workforce, an automated weather radio program will set a good example of why we need to implement such a process. If the forecaster does not have to record a broadcast, then more time will be devoted to a continuous weather watch, especially on the Doppler weather radar.
Since each transmitter operated by the NWS office also has a unique geographic coverage area, NWS staff members in the past manually recorded the forecasts and cur- rent weather information for each listening area. This was done using technology that limited programming variability and locked the messages into a repetitive sequential order. Producing and updating information in this manner was time consuming since most Weather Service forecast offices operate multiple NOAA Weather Radio transmitters. The Charleston office operates two consoles which drive four transmitters.
Automation is beneficial for two reasons. First, every product that has been read by human voices can be read by a computer.
While there will be a change of service, a loss of service will not occur. Every product, from the hourly weather conditions to tornado warnings will be broadcast. Secondly, the radio is well suited for automation so that timeliness is greatly improved. It takes about ten minutes to record forecasts on our weather radio consoles.
Shortly after the forecast becomes available to the computerized system, it is broadcast on all radios. We look forward to virtually instantaneous broadcast of warnings when the system is put into service later this summer.
The new weather radio system has several backups to ensure that all important weather information is disseminated to the public. First, the computer itself has an identical processor which automatically takes over if the other becomes inoperable. If the automated capabilities on both systems fail, we can record manually. If this is not possible, we prepare a live broadcast.
Many listeners have concerns about the quality of the voices that the system generates. A great deal of work is being done to improve the voice quality, as well as creating new voices. Every effort will be made to give the computer voices a more human sound. The voices will always be computer generated, hence they will have an automated sound.
Some listeners ask why we do not use a computer system with recordings of human voices saying certain canned statements. This technology is available, however it limits you to the phrases or words that are pre-recorded. The National Weather Service chose the completely computerized voice, since it allows for greater flexibility in wording, enabling the forecaster to tell you anything they think you need to know about the current weather situation.
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