This is where forecasts for the area are made for
land, air, and water, using the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS),
which is our mainframe computer system. It allows the forecast staff to analyze
computer forecast guidance, otherwise know as "computer models", in 4 dimensions
(along the Earth's surface as well as with respect to height and time), and
overlay this data with satellite, radar, and local weather reports. An example
of a typical AWIPS graphic workstation screen can be seen on the right (except
the resolution normally is much better). In the big pane is computer model
data. The screen is interactive, allowing the forecaster to load and display
the desired fields, or compare the same parameters between several computer
models. There are four smaller panes in which any item or combination of items
can be stored for later viewing. For instance, on the left is an overlay of an
enhanced, infrared satellite picture and surface observations.
In the image to the left is the forecast operations center. The forecast position on the right in the picture is the short term, or aviation forecast desk. At this desk terminal forecasts (called TAFs) and route forecasts (TWEBs) are composed for aviation purposes. These products are issued every 6 hours, and updated as needed. This forecaster might also be responsible for writing fire weather forecasts and Short Term Forecasts as the weather requires. "Short fused" warnings for Severe Thunderstorms, Tornadoes, and Flash Floods, are the responsibility of this person as well. On active weather days, additional staff would be on hand or called in to assist with all these duties. The warning process is explained in greater detail under the radar operations section of this tour.
On the left in the picture is the long term, or public, forecast desk. This person composes the 7-day forecast traditionally distributed via radio and other media sources. "Longer fused" items, such as winter storm watches/warnings, windchill or heat advisories/warnings, and flood watches-- to name a few-- would be the responsibility of this person.
|All of the
forecast products are generated by the forecaster using AWIPS. The forecaster
interaction with the system is performed through a set of digital grids. To
view our grids online click
here. These fields are then adjusted by the forecaster based on
meteorological principles and forecaster experience. Many of our text products
are by-products of the digital grids. Our
7day zone forecast text product, our
graphical forecast, and the
text digital product are a few examples.
|When "long fused" warnings, watches, or advisories need to be issued, AWIPS contains an application program to accomplish this task as well. These items are then displayed on a map, an example of which can be seen to the left. This map displays, not only the area served by our forecast office, but also areas covered by surrounding offices. This way, offices can more readily coordinate the forecast with each other. AWIPS software can recognize any watches, warnings, or advisories in effect, and will break apart groups, if necessary, and insert the appropriate headline in the forecast products|