Fiscal Year 1995

FSL in Review

Modernization Division

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Dennis S. Walts , Chief


The Modernization Division produces functional designs or working prototypes of techniques, workstations, and systems that may be implemented into National Weather Service (or other agency) operations up to a decade later. The process includes selecting, tailoring, and implementing advanced techniques and devices produced by the research and development community, industry, or elsewhere. Developments are state of the art and continually evolve as knowledge expands.

Modernization of NWS operations involves the development of a new radar system, an automated surface observing system, a new series of Geostationary Satellites and products, and a communications and forecaster workstation system, the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS). For years, FSL has been participating in risk reduction activities to help the NWS meet its goals in the development and deployment of AWIPS. FSL has been developing and testing a series of forecaster workstations at the Denver and Norman Weather Service Forecast Offices (WSFOs). Currently, systems known as DARE (Denver AWIPS Risk Reduction and Requirements Evaluation) in Denver and Pre-AWIPS in Norman are being used by the WSFO staffs. These systems have provided valuable insight into modernized operations. For example, experience gained at these locations influenced many of the refinements to the specifications that are being used by the AWIPS contractor, PRC, Inc. Lessons learned from these experiences have helped to guide the NWS in its planning for the transition to modernized operations.

A complementary aspect of the modernization plan involves the reorganization of NWS field operations. Currently, 52 WSFOs perform the bulk of the forecasting functions for statewide areas, and 180 Weather Service Offices (WSOs) and other small offices provide local adaptive forecasts. Both WSFOs and WSOs issue severe weather warnings, though many WSOs operate mainly on a daytime schedule and must be backed up at night by their parent WSFO. The restructured NWS will include 118 Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) that will be collocated with the new radar system, WSR-88D. AWIPS will provide the communications and forecast support functions for these offices.

The Modernization Division comprises three branches:

Maintained by: Wilfred von Dauster