FX-Net Used to Support Clean-up Efforts in the Aftermath of Katrina

September 12, 2005

The National Weather Service has implemented an All-hazards Meteorological Response System (AMRS) to support the NWS Incident Meteorologists (IMETs) at remote locations. This small group of approximately 50 experienced and certified meteorologists is dispatched to remote locations to support All-Hazards operations. Special training in microscale forecasting, fire behavior, and fire suppression operations makes these forecasters key members of an emergency incident management team.

IMETs use special equipment in preparing critical forecasts used in hazardous situations, such as wildfire suppression and prescribed burning projects. One of these tools is the AMRS, which enables forecasters to operate at the incident command post, providing close meteorological support to incident operations. The AMRS can be used throughout the country wherever wildfire, chemical spills, and other catastrophes threatens life, property, or other valuable resources. The core component of the system is the NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory's (FSL) FX-Net system.

FX-Net provides AWIPS-like displays on a laptop remote from the data server. FX-Net has been deployed to all fires requiring IMET support during the last two fire weather seasons. FX-Net delivers high-resolution satellite, radar, observational, and weather prediction model data from a server in either the Western, Southern, Pacific, or Alaska regions. Any type of network link can be used to access the server data at speeds ranging from low-bandwidth 56 kbps to high-speed, two-way satellite based communications systems. Bandwidth limitations are addressed by using a Wavelet data compression technique along with multithreaded client-side processing and communication.

In the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, rescue and evacuation operations were supported by an IMET who was on the scene at the New Orleans WFO (Slidell) on August 30. Additional IMETs were deployed to Baton Rouge, LA and Stennis Space Center, MS.

Here's what they have to say about using FX-Net in the field:

"We have both the Windows and Linux version of FX-Net installed at the Emergency Operations Center in Baton Rouge. Two meteorologists are providing on-site support at that location. They have briefed the Governor and other dignitaries plus the usual suite of daily briefings to support response and recovery operations."

-- Sep 7 email from David "Rusty" Billingsley, Chief, Scientific Services, Southern Region Headquarters

"[FX-Net] is installed on the Linux workstation and Windows based PC in our cubicle at the LA office of Emergency Preparedness. It is our primary method to view model/sat/sfc obs/radar and text browser for our weather briefing and HAZMAT forecasts. We have briefed many federal, state, and local agencies and individuals using it, giving FX-Net great exposure. In fact the LSU folks want it, or access to, it really badly! I and of course other IMETs plan on using it extensively when "in the field" for HAZMAT."

-- email from Rick Davis, NWS Incident Meteorologist from Tampa, FL

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Sher Schranz