Hydrometeorological Prediction Center
2001 Accomplishment Report

1.  Introduction

The year 2001 was another year of change as the HPC continued to modify its products and services to meet the goals outlined in the National Weather Service (NWS) Strategic Plan.  HPC worked closely with other components of the NWS to accomplish these changes.  For example, the HPC and the Eastern Region coordinated to develop and implement a Winter Weather Experiment designed to improve services to the public through improved placement and timing of winter weather watches and warnings.  HPC worked with NWS Headquarters and the River Forecast Centers (RFCs) to develop and implement a Significant Flood Outlook product to give Emergency Managers an early alert to potential flooding.

It was a banner year for HPC forecasters.  HPC assisted several Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) and RFCs in forecasting the massive flooding over the southern states due to the slow-moving remnants of Tropical Storm Allison.  HPC’s medium range and quantitative precipitation forecasters set records for verification of their products.  The Day One 1.0-inch verification scores for December were the best for any month in the 40-year record of HPC quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs).  The HPC International Desks, through its training activities, provided alerts on several occasions leading to warnings from meteorological organizations in South America.

HPC worked closely with the Office of the Director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) on the renovations and improvements to the Media Center.  The Media Center continued to see much service as the broadcast networks and cable news channels turned to the HPC for information concerning snow storms, flooding, and record heat.

2. Major Accomplishments

The following describes HPC’s most significant accomplishments beyond the normal 24-hour operations with its issuance of hundreds of products daily.

HPC Supported the Presidential Inauguration – Beginning January 5, HPC forecasters participated in daily teleconference calls led by the NWS Sterling WFO with the Presidential Inaugural Committee until the day before the event on January 20, 2001.  The committee was primarily interested in information on heavy rains, winter precipitation, and strong wind chills that might force the ceremony indoors.  Following each conference call, HPC forecasters prepared a write up of the model information they presented for relay to senior NWS managers. The committee considered moving the inauguration indoors because of forecasted poor weather conditions, but kept it outdoors, at least partly, because HPC forecasters expected the heaviest rains to end by the time of the ceremony.

HPC Staff Participated in Pacific Land-Falling Jets Experiment – During January and February several HPC meteorologists participated in PACJET (Pacific Landfalling Jet Experiment) conducted out of Monterey, California.  HPC forecasters produced aviation and general weather forecasts for the west coast to help direct research operations on the ground and in the air.  They also flew on several missions.

HPC Provided Extensive Services Related to Tropical Storm Allison – HPC provided forecasts and storm summaries for Tropical Storm Allison and its remnants over the two weeks the storm was active.  A record-setting 52 advisories and summaries were provided on the storm by the HPC and the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC), with HPC issuing the last 48.  HPC also provided numerous media briefings via telephone to the print and broadcast media and hosted several live TV appearances including NBC’s Today Show and CNN, as well as a taped interview on the CBS Evening News.

HPC Begins Transmission of Gridded QPFs over the AWIPS SBN - In October of 2001, HPC began transmitting its 6-hr precipitation forecasts in gridded form over the satellite broadcast network of AWIPS.  This is significant in that it will provide forecast offices in the field a starting point for producing gridded precipitation forecasts for there hydrologic service areas. As the NWS transitions into the digital forecast era, HPC is striving to make more and more of its products available in digital form so as to be compatible with the tools now being used by field forecast offices.

HPC Provided White House Support For Areas Struck By Terrorists – Beginning September 19, the HPC began preparing a daily graphic and text description highlighting the major weather threats (such as major river flooding and hurricane landfall) potentially impacting the continental United States and possibly requiring a response from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  Also included was a weather outlook for the areas struck by the terrorist attacks of September 11.  This package was provided to the White House staff for planning the recovery operations at the Pentagon and New York City.

HPC Teamed with NWS Headquarters and RFCs to Produce a National Significant River Flood Outlook – HPC worked closely with NWS Headquarters and the RFCs to develop and implement a National Significant River Flood Outlook.  The outlook is intended to give emergency managers and others an early warning of potential significant river flooding in the continental U.S.  The web-based graphic shows, in a probabilistic display, where there is a possibility of flooding over the next five days.  If more information is desired, the visitor can click on the appropriate location on the graphic and be taken to an RFC web site.  The RFC forecasts are based to a large extent on HPC QPF products.  The HPC role in the generation of this graphic is to collect the outlooks from the 13 RFCs and mosaic them into a coherent graphic.  This graphic is then sent out over the Satellite Broadcast Network to WFOs and RFCs and posted on the HPC web page.  The graphic can be viewed at: /nationalfloodoutlook/index.html.

Winter Weather Experiment – The HPC and four NWS Eastern Region WFOs (Sterling, Virginia; State College, Pennsylvania; Mount Holly, New Jersey; and Wakefield, Virginia) began conducting a Winter Weather Experiment (WWE) on November 1 with a goal of  providing improved services to the public through improved placement and timing of watches and warnings and by clearly conveying the level of uncertainty in the forecasts of severe winter weather events.  During the experiment, the HPC led web-based chat room sessions to provide information helping the WFOs with the location and timing of their watches and warnings.  The experiment was eventually expanded to include eight east coast WFOs.

HPC Sends Medium Range Temperature and Precipitations Forecasts in BUFR – HPC began transmitting the HPC medium-range (days 3 through 7) maximum and minium temperature and probability of precipitation forecasts in BUFR (Binary Universal Format for Data Representation) in August 2001.  Although the same information has long been available in graphical format to NWS field offices and other users, the new format now makes it possible to access these HPC products in gridded form.

HPC Takes Over Production of Daily Threats Chart – On January 3, 2001, the HPC assumed responsibility for producing the daily threats chart prepared for NOAA management.  The chart depicts areas where hazardous weather is possible over the next 24 hours.  The chart is compiled from forecasts prepared at NCEP’s HPC, TPC, and Storm Prediction Center and includes such features as severe thunderstorms, heavy snow or ice, flash flooding, and excessive temperatures.  The chart also includes forecast frontal and pressure systems and precipitation.  The HPC makes the chart available on its web site where it has become one of the most popular HPC products.  Originally prepared five days a week by staff at NWS Headquarters, the HPC now prepares the product every day.

HPC Sets Several Accuracy Records for Medium-Range Forecasting – HPC medium-range forecasters, who predict 3-7 days into the future, set several records during the month of November 2001.  The new records are 1) highest monthly score for percent improvement over numerical model output statistics (MOS) for those stations adjusted by the forecaster for the day 7 probability of precipitation (PoP); 2) 90% of the adjustments to the PoPs for day 5 improved the forecasts; and 3) 87% of the changes made to day 7 PoPs improved the forecasts.  Statistics have been kept since 1999.

HPC Sets Monthly Rainfall Forecast Performance Record – The HPC QPF desk had one of its best years in its long history.  Verification scores for the last three months of 2001 were at or near all-time records.  Record high scores were set in December for 24-hour Day 1 forecasts of half-inch, 1-inch, 2-inch, and 3-inch amounts.  The 1-inch verification scores were the highest for any month in the 40-year record of HPC QPFs!  At Day 2, 24-hour forecast records were set for half-inch and 1-inch forecasts.  HPC also set all-time records for the calendar year threat scores for Day 1 1-inch and 2-inch forecasts.  Detailed HPC QPF verification scores are posted at /html/QPFrecords.htm.

HPC International Desks Provided Several Alerts of Severe Weather Over Central and South America – The International Desks hosts over a dozen meteorologists each year from Central American, South American, and Caribbean countries and Saudi Arabia providing them with meteorological training with an emphasis on the operational use and application of numerical model products.  Although the products generated by the desks are for training purposes only, the meteorological narratives are used by the meteorological services in Central and South America and the Carribean.

Mrs. Carla Cordeiro, a visiting fellow from Brazil, and Mr. Mike Davison, Director of the HPC International Desks, provided three-day advance notice of the potential for convective storm activity in association with a frontal boundary in central Argentina.  Organized convection formed on November 15-16, resulting in a hailstorm over central Argentina requiring the use of plows to clear the roads.  Rainfall reports ranged from 3 to 4 inches in areas where models had forecast none.

HPC International Desks also provided information to the Meteorological Service of Venezuela on November 26 describing the potential for heavy rainfall and flooding.  After discussion with the International Desks, the Meteorological Service of Venezuela issued warnings for possible flash floods across northern Venezuela.  Mr. Luis Perdomo, forecaster with the Meteorological Service of Venezuela and former visiting scientist at the HPC International Desks, sent confirmation of the event.  He reported minor mud slides and creeks at flood stage in the warning area.  Property damage and loss of life were minimal due in part to the prompt warnings issued by the meteorological service with the assistance of the HPC.

HPC Provided Significant Media Services – HPC worked closely with the Office of the NCEP Director to renovate the media center and upgrade the technology for the display of meteorological fields to the media. The display capabilities of the media center were upgraded with the installation of a wall mounted flat-screen TV with capabilities for annotation of graphics and smooth transitions between displays.  An additional media setting was installed in the HPC operations area equipped with a large TV display that can be controlled by the meteorologist while on camera. See photo

HPC Meteorologists were interviewed live and on tape on many occasions during the year.  The broadcast networks and numerous cable news networks, including CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, all broadcast live from the HPC on multiple occasions.  Some examples follow.

The HPC staff provided numerous print, internet, and broadcast media interviews related to the formation, movement , and impacts of the major Nor’easter expected to impact the Mid-Atlantic and New England states March 3-7.  Contacts included the morning and nightly television news programs for the major broadcast networks (ABC, CBS, NBC), including some live interviews.  Also included were the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) and French and German news agencies.  Other contacts included CNN, BBC, Associated Press, Reuters, Westwood 1, USA Today, and the Chicago Tribune.

HPC was a focus for the national media as much of the nation suffered under a heat wave in early August.  The most intense media attention came on August 7 and 8.  Kevin McCarthy, HPC Deputy Director, and HPC forecaster Michael Eckert were interviewed several times on August 8 as CNBC meteorologist Joe Witte broadcast live from the HPC at half-hour intervals for over six hours.  McCarthy also appeared on NBC Nightly news, ABC Evening News, NBC News Channel, CNN, and live on MSNBC.  Numerous radio interviews were provided by HPC staff including a lengthy feature on NPR’s “All Things Considered”, Associated Press, CNN, USA Radio, Westwood One, and USA Today.

Dave Reynolds, Chief of HPC’s Forecast Operations Branch, provided a live interview in the lead story on The Morning Show of the CBS network on November 28.  Dave detailed the active weather affecting the U.S. and adjacent waters, including a major snowstorm in the upper Midwest, a winter weather outbreak as far south as Texas, severe convective weather in the southeast U.S., a new weather-making system entering the Pacific Northwest, and late-season Hurricane Olga in the Atlantic.

HPC hosted staff of NBC’s The Today Show on Dec. 19.  NCEP's media center and the HPC operations area served as the studio for NBC’s Today Show to tape a weather segment for their 50th-anniversary special.  Al Roker, the current Today Show meteorologist, conducted interviews of former Today Show meteorologists Bob Ryan and Willard Scott.  Ryan and Scott reminisced about their days doing the weather on the Today Show.  See photo

HPC exposure was not limited to current weather.  Several times during the week of January 1, the Arts and Entertainment (A&E) cable channel aired a show entitled “Tracking Storms:  The Next Frontier” on its weekly one-hour program Investigative Reports.  The show highlighted numerous NOAA efforts to improve the understanding and prediction of hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, and blizzards.  Footage of NCEP’s World Weather Building fourth-floor operations area was shown, as were interviews with HPC Director Jim Hoke and forecaster Bob Oravec.  TPC Director Max Mayfield was interviewed extensively, as well.

3.  Awards

HPC Awarded Bronze Medal – The HPC was honored with a Bronze Medal in 2001 for its major restructuring in 2000 enabling it to enhance products and services, especially the provision of QPFs to the RFCs.  The award citation read "For contributions that improve forecasts to the American people while under strict time constraints and with no additional resources."

Steve Flood and Mike Schichtel Awarded Bronze Medal – Steve Flood and Mike Schichtel were singled out for the very successful teletraining course they prepared and presented on medium-range weather forecasting.  They were part of a group recognized "For personal initiative, selfless dedication and professional excellence in developing and conducting distance training of field forecasters in the areas of medium range, severe thunderstorm, and winter weather forecasting."

Peter Manousos Awarded Bronze Medal – HPC Science and Operations Officer (SOO) Peter Manousos received a Bronze Medal for his initiative in educating weather forecasters in the use and interpretation of NWS weather prediction models thus improving short-term forecasts to the public.  Peter used his scientific and technical skills to implement new techniques for assessing weather prediction model performance.  These knowledge-based and interactive web-based tools have enabled government and non-government forecasters nationwide to use model guidance more fully.

Dave Reynolds, Chief of the Forecast Operations Branch - Dave was a member of two teams that each received a Bronze medal for their work in revising the NWS process for issuing quantitative precipitation forecasts for use in river models run by the River Forecast Centers throughout the US. The first team examined the previous QPF process used in operations and suggested, based on a comprehensive evaluation, that HPC should assume responsibility for issuing QPFs for use in RFC river models. The second team was established to implement the recommendations from the first team.  The final implementation as completed in December of 2000.

HPC Isaac M. Cline Award – Mike Schichtel and Steve Flood were winners of the 2001 HPC Isaac M. Cline Award for excellence in meteorology.  They were recognized for preparing an outstanding training package on medium-range forecasting.  Under serious time constraints and while continuing to work full time as medium-range shift forecasters for HPC’s Forecast Operations Branch, Mike and Steve completed this outstanding training package.

4.  HPC Staff

As part of the reorganization of administrative support for the HPC and Marine Prediction Center, the positions filled by Kevin McCarthy, Gerald Delaney, and Jeanette Rolen, which had been full-time HPC positions, were split between the HPC and MPC.  Additionally, the HPC was provided three positions to support enhanced medium-range and winter weather experiment activities.  The listing below reflects the staff assigned as of December 31, 2001.   See Photo

Front Office
James E. Hoke, Director
Kevin C. McCarthy, Deputy Director
Jeanette H. Rolen, Secretary

Technical Support Group
Gerald A. Delaney, Administrative Officer
Meteorological Technicians:  Jacqueline I. Hatchett, Rufus J. Jackson, Jr., William McReynolds, Jr.

Development And Training Branch
Edwin J. Danaher, Branch Chief
Michel Davison, International Desks Coordinator
Peter C. Manousos, Science And Operations Officer
Meteorologist Developers:  Keith F. Brill, Michael Bodner, Joe W. Carr, Jr.
Mohan Karyampudi, Contractor Coordinator for the Saudi Desk

Forecast Operations Branch
David W. Reynolds, Branch Chief
Senior Branch Forecasters:  Michael T. Eckert, Norman W. Junker, Brian Korty,   Bruce D. Terry, Louis E. Wolf
Meteorologists:  Jessica L. Clark, James A. Cisco, Stephen J. Flood, Christopher M.  Hedge, Mark Klein, Arthur J. Lindner, Paul Mausser, Robert J. Oravec, Andrew Orrison, Frank J. Pereira, Dan Petersen, Robert L. Rausch, Alan J. Robson, Franklin A. Rosenstein, David M. Roth, Michael L. Schichtel, Bruce E. Sullivan, David S. Wally
Surface Analysts:  Jim Kells, Paul A. Ziegenfelder

Staffing Changes During 2000
Brett McDonald left for a Science and Operations Officer position at WFO Riverton, Wyoming.
Steven A. Listemaa left to become a HAS forecaster in the Lower Mississippi RFC.
Robert L. Rausch transferred to the Forecasts Operations Branch.
John R. Leathers retired after many years of outstanding service.
Jon M. Flatley was hired for a position at NWSH.
Carl McElroy transferred to WFO Brownsville.
Michael Bodner joined the Development and Training Branch.
Andrew Orrison and Dan Petersen joined the Forecast Operations Branch as forecasters.
Jim Kells joined the Forecast Operations Branch as a surface analyst.

 Pictures of HPC Operations and Events