The Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) is a technologically advanced information processing, display, and telecommunications system that is the cornerstone of the National Weather Service (NWS) modernization and restructuring. AWIPS is an interactive computer system that integrates all meteorological and hydrological data, and all satellite and radar data, for the first time, and enables the forecaster to prepare and issue more accurate and timely forecasts and warnings.
Each AWIPS workstation consists of three graphics monitors and one text workstation(top picture). There are six AWIPS workstations in our office. The three graphics workstations are capable of displaying up to 15 different windows, each containing its own display of weather information. Forecasters interrogate radar and satellite imagery, lightning data, upper air data generated by weather balloons, observed surface weather, and a plethora of numerical model guidance. These fields can be looped, zoomed, and even overlayed on one another. Prior to AWIPS, forecasters had to use several different machines to view all of these data.
A text workstation is used to prepare and disseminate forecast and warning products as well as to look at textual observations and weather discussions.
AWIPS replaced a much older computer system called Automation of Field Operations and Services, or AFOS for short. AFOS (pictured below) was developed by the Ford Motor Company and represents 1960s technology. The systems had been in place in National Weather Service Forecast offices since the early 1980s. All graphics were in black and white. A maximum of three products could be overlain on one another. Looping capabilities were crude and text editing was cumbersome.