National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Weather Glossary: N's

Nacreous Clouds
Clouds of unknown composition that have a soft, pearly luster and that form at altitudes about 15 to 19 miles (25 to 30 kilometers) above the Earth's surface. They are also called mother-of-the-pearl clouds.
National Centers for Environmental Information

National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) (formally National Climatic Data Center) are responsible for hosting and providing access to one of the most significant archives on earth, with comprehensive oceanic, atmospheric, and geophysical data. From the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun and from million-year-old tree rings to near real-time satellite images, NCEI is the Nation's leading authority for environmental information.

By preserving, stewarding, and maximizing the utility of the Federal government's billion-dollar investment in high-quality environmental data, NCEI remains committed to providing products and services to private industry and businesses, local to international governments, academia, as well as the general public.

National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP)
Comprised of nine national centers, NCEP prepares and makes available national forecasts and outlooks of weather and climate. Meteorologists currently generate weather forecasts for three to five days, soon to extend to seven days. Climate predictions are made for two weeks out to a year.
National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS)

A system that directly integrates the effects of fuels, topography, and weather into components that deal with fire occurrence and fire behavior potential. The system uses the components to derive indices that indicate the number of fires, difficulty of containment, and finally, the total fire control job in a rating area.

The system is intended to provide guidance for short-range planning by evaluating the near upper limits of the behavior of fires that might occur in an area during the rating period. It is not designed to serve as a direct fire behavior forecast.

National Hurricane Center (NHC)

This center maintains a continuous watch on tropical cyclones over the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific from 15 May through November 30. The Center prepares and distributes hurricane watches and warnings for the general public, and also prepares and distributes marine and military advisories for other users.

During the "off-season" NHC provides training for U.S. emergency managers and representatives from many other countries that are affected by tropical cyclones. NHC also conducts applied research to evaluate and improve hurricane forecasting techniques, and is involved in public awareness programs.

Natural Control
A stream gaging control which is natural to the stream channel, in contrast to an artificial control structure by man.
Navigational Telex (Navtex)
One part of Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) for automatically disseminating safety information, including weather warnings and forecasts, in text form via medium frequency radio to mariners within 200 nautical miles of shore.
Nautical Mile
A unit of distance used in marine navigation and marine forecasts. It is equal to 1.15 statute miles (1.85 kilometers). It is also the approximate length of 1 minute of latitude.

An acronym for the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to take advantage of improving technology and better serve the public and modernized National Weather Service.

The NCEP's goal is to protect life and property, as well as mitigate economic loss, by providing accurate forecasts and forecast guidance products to weather service field offices.

The NCEP prepares and makes available national forecasts and outlooks of weather and climate. Meteorologists currently generate weather forecasts for three to five days, soon to extend to seven days. Climate predictions are made for two weeks out to a year. Nine national centers comprise the NCEP:

The NCEP was established in 1958 as the National Meteorological Center (NMC). Since the center's beginning, operational weather forecasting has transformed from an infant discipline into a mature science.

Neap Tide
A minimum tide occurring at the first and third quarters of the moon.
Nearshore Lake Forecast (NSH)

This marine forecast is issued every six hours and they will usually cover a 36-hour period. The term nearshore refers to The Great Lakes waters within five nautical miles (eight kilometers) of shore.

Since the Great Lakes have a large shoreline, these forecasts are broken up into numerous segments and they are issued by several National Weather Service offices in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, and New York.

Nearshore Waters
The waters of The Great Lakes extending out to five miles (eight kilometers) from shore.
The fear of fog. See Homichlophobia.
Negative-Tilt Trough
An upper level system which is tilted to the west with increasing latitude (i.e., with an axis from southeast to northwest). A negative-tilt trough often is a sign of a developing or intensifying system.
Negative Vorticity Advection (NVA)
A region of negative vorticity usually several hundreds of kilometers wide on a upper level chart that moves with the general wind flow. It aids in weather prediction by showing where regions of sinking air. This is typically associated with clear skies.
The fear of clouds.
NESDIS (National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service)
NESDIS collects, processes, stores, analyzes, and disseminates various types of hydrologic, meteorologic, and oceanic data. NESDIS is also responsible for the development of analytical and descriptive products so as to meet the needs of its users.
Net Rainfall
The portion of rainfall which reaches a stream channel or the concentration point as direct surface flow.
An acronym that stands for NEXt generation of weather RADar. It is a technologically-advanced weather radar replaced WSR-57 and WSR-74 radar units. NEXRAD is a high-resolution Doppler radar with increased emphasis on automation, including use of algorithms and automated volume scans. NEXRAD units are known as WSR-88D.
Nimbostratus (Ns)
A dark, gray cloud characterized by more or less continuously falling precipitation. It is not accompanied by lightning, thunder, or hail. They normally occur between 6,500 and 23,000 feet (2,000 to 7,000 feet) above the ground.
An acronym for National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
NOAAPORT Broadcast System

This provides a one-way broadcast communication of NOAA environmental data and information in near-real time to NOAA and external users. This broadcast service is implemented by a commercial provider of satellite communications utilizing C-band.

Weather data is collected by GOES satellite environmental sensors and NWS observing systems, and processed to create products. The products are fed to the AWIPS Network Control Facility (NCF) which routes the products to the appropriate NOAAPORT channel for uplink and broadcast.

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards

It is the voice of the National Weather Service. NOAA Weather Radio broadcasts National Weather Service warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day.

It is provided as a public service by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards network has more than 700 stations in the 50 states and near adjacent coastal waters, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and U.S. Pacific Territories.

NOAA Weather Wire Service (NWWS)

The NOAA Weather Wire Service is the primary telecommunications network for NWS forecasts, warnings and other products to the mass media (newspapers, radio stations, TV, etc.) and emergency management agencies. The NWWS is a satellite communications system that transmits NWS products directly from NWS offices to external users.

The NWWS satellite communications system is operated by GTE Corp., under contract to the NWS. The system uses satellite transmitting (i.e. "uplink") equipment at more than 58 major NWS forecast offices throughout the continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico.

Noctilucent Clouds
Wavy, thin, bluish-white clouds that are best seen at twilight in polar latitudes. They form at altitudes about 50 to 56 miles (80 to 90 kilometers) above the Earth's surface.
The fear of the night.
Related to nighttime, or occurring at night.
Nocturnal Inversion
see radiational inversion.
Nocturnal Jet
This wind speed maximum occurs just above the nocturnal inversion at night. It is typically found in the south-central United States during the late spring and summer months. It is important in the development of Mesoscale Convective Complex (MCC) or Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCS).
A strong low-pressure system that affects the Mid-Atlantic and New England States. It can form over land or over the coastal waters. It usually produces heavy snows, flooding rains, strong northeast winds, coastal flooding, and beach erosion.
The long-term average value of a meteorological element for a certain area. For example, "temperatures are normal for this time of year" Usually averaged over 30 years.
Normal Water Surface Elevation (Normal Pool Level)
The lowest crest level of overflow on a reservoir with a fixed overflow level (spillway crest elevation). For a reservoir whose outflow is controlled wholly or partly by movable gates, siphons, or other means, it is the maximum level to which water may rise under normal operating conditions, exclusive of any provision for flood surcharge.
Normal Year
A year during which the precipitation or stream flow approximates the average for a long period of record.
Notch Width
The 3-dB band width of a rejection filter.
A weather forecast, generally out to six hours or less. This is also called a Short-Term Forecast.
An acronym for Negative Vorticity Advection.
NSSL (National Severe Storms Laboratory)

NSSL is one of NOAA's internationally known Environmental Research Laboratories, leading the way in investigations of all aspects of severe weather.

Headquartered in Norman OK with staff in Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Utah, and Wisconsin, the people of NSSL, in partnership with the National Weather Service, are dedicated to improving severe weather warnings and forecasts in order to save lives and reduce property damage.

A particle of any nature upon which molecules of water or ice accumulate.
Numerical Forecasting
Forecasting the weather through digital computations carried out by supercomputers.
A National Weather Service convective precipitation descriptor for a 60% or 70% chance of measurable precipitation (0.01" / 0.25 mm). See Precipitation Probability (PoP).
Numerical Weather Prediction.
National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service Headquarters.
Nyquist Frequency
The highest frequency that can be determined in data that have been discretely sampled. For data sampled at frequency f, this frequency is (f/2). Doppler radar sampling frequency (rate) is equal to the pulse repetition frequency (PRF).
Nyquist Velocity or Interval
The maximum unambiguous velocity that can be measured by a Doppler radar.