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Critical Fire Weather Threats and Dangerous Heat Continue Across the West

Dangerously hot temperatures will continue early this week over the Desert Southwest, with critical fire weather threats from the same region northward into the Great Basin. Further north, severe thunderstorms will be possible across the northern Rockies and Plains today, expanding into the Upper Midwest on Tuesday. Read More >

NCEP 2020 Quarter 2 Newsletter



NCEP Central Operations Awards New WCOSS 10 Year Contract

On February 14, 2020, NCEP Central Operations (NCO) awarded a new 10-year, $505 million contract to General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT) to provide supercomputing resources as-a-service through NOAA’s Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System (WCOSS) program.

The systems will be designed, deployed and managed by GDIT and used to perform complex modeling of weather and climate patterns for use in generating forecast products supporting the National Weather Service. The single-award indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity (IDIQ) contract holds a total estimated value of $505 million. It includes a base period of eight years with one two-year option. Through this contract, GDIT will receive task orders related to high performance computing (HPC) deliverables, including an initial Phase 1 task order of $150 million with a period of performance February 14, 2020 to February 13, 2025.


The National Weather Service will expand their current computing power by more than 200 percent and continue to optimize their ability to provide accurate and timely weather forecasts.  GDIT will deploy two HPC systems at two sites at Manassas, VA and Phoenix, AZ on separate electrical power grids to support the numerical weather prediction suite of models used in national weather forecasting. 

The contract will provide two equal computing systems with one serving as the operational system and the other primarily used for development when serving as the backup. This will ensure operational readiness in the event that one system goes down, enabling the immediate transition of operations from one site to the other within minutes.

System Configuration (Per site)

  • Cray Shasta system
  • 12.1 PetaFlops
  • Multi-tiered storage
    • 2 flash filesystems each with...
      • 614 TB usable storage
      • 300 GB/s bandwidth
    • 2 HDD filesystems each with...
      • 12.5 PB usable storage
      • 200 GB/s bandwidth
    • Total aggregate - 26.2PB at 1TB/s
  • Lustre parallel filesystem
  • PBSpro workload manager
  • Ecflow scheduler
  • Compute nodes
  • 2,560 nodes (60 spare)
  • 327,680 cores
  • 128 cores/node
  • 1.3 PB of memory
  • 512 GB/node
  • Pre/post-processing nodes
  • 132 nodes (4 spare)
  • 8,448 cores
  • 64 cores/node
  • 132 TB of memory
  • 1TB/node
  • 200Gb/s Slingshot interconnect


NOAA NWS Cray supercomputers in Reston, VA.

Image of super computer



Climate Prediction Center Issues 2020 Spring Outlook

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), along with the Office of Water Prediction (OWP), issued the Spring Outlook via a press release, press teleconference, and video on March 19, 2020.  The Spring Outlook identifies areas at risk of spring flooding and expectations for temperature, precipitation and drought from April through June.  The temperature outlook favored warmer-than-average temperatures from coast-to-coast with the greatest chances in northern Alaska, across the central Great Basin southward into the Gulf States, and into the Southeast and portions of the Mid-Atlantic. No part of the country is favored to experience below-average temperatures this spring.  Above-average precipitation is favored from the Northern Plains, southward through the lower Mississippi Valley across to the East Coast. Large parts of Alaska are also likely to experience above-average precipitation in the months ahead.

The seasonal flood outlook indicated widespread flooding during the spring, but did not expect it to be as severe or prolonged overall as the historic floods in 2019. Major to moderate flooding is likely in 23 states from the Northern Plains south to the Gulf Coast, with the most significant flood potential in parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.  With soil moisture already at high levels across much of the central U.S., and many rivers running high in the central and eastern U.S., any heavy local rainfall could trigger flooding in these high-risk areas.

The press release with a link to a spring outlook video can be found here:

February – April Temperature Outlook (left), February – April Precipitation Outlook (middle), and March – May Flood Outlook (right).



National Hurricane Center Storm Surge Unit expands its reach to Caribbean nations.

The deadly impacts of storm surge are not confined to just the United States. It’s a problem anywhere these storms occur. With the success of its new products that include the Potential Storm Surge Flooding Map and the storm surge watch and warnings, the National Hurricane Center storm surge unit participated in a joint Caribbean WeatherReady Nations and Coastal Inundation meeting on January 22-24 in Barbados.  Representatives of WMO RA-IV nations in the Caribbean region gathered there to discuss it using new coastal inundation mapping to improve resilience and disaster mitigation in their respective countries.

NHC storm surge team leader Jamie Rhome addresses the attendees of the Caribbean WeatherReady Nations and Coastal Inundation meeting in Barbados, January 23, 2020. Photo credit: NOAA Communications.


National Hurricane Center hosts the Mariner's Decision Makers Workshop

What do cruise ship captains, the U.S. Coast Guard, oil companies and Port Meteorological Officers have in common? Each has a critical stake in the weather and water conditions at sea.

To help them with this challenge, NHC again hosted the Mariners’ Decision Makers Workshop. The March 3-5 workshop drew more than 3 dozen attendees to the NHC seminar room for classroom instruction by several NHC hurricane specialists as well as several meteorologists from the NHC Tropical Analysis & Forecast Branch, describing the use of hurricane and marine forecast products.

NHC Deputy Director Dr. Ed Rappaport addresses the attendees of the Mariners’ Decision Makers Workshop, Miami, Fla. March 3, 2020. Photo credit: NOAA Communications


Hurricane Preparedness for Decision Makers

NHC once again hosted the FEMA L-0324 course "Hurricane Preparedness for Decision Makers”. The intensive five-day course was presented during three different weeks in January and February. Two dozen emergency managers and decision makers from the coastal U.S states in the Northeast (Maine to Maryland), Southeast (Virginia to Florida) and Gulf of Mexico (Florida to Texas) each took part in comprehensive workshops in the use of NHC products, many taught by the NHC hurricane and storm surge specialists.


After four days of extensive training, the participants put their learned skills to the test in a tabletop exercise. It featured a fictional Hurricane Mallory strengthening and aiming at the U.S. East coast. Based on the potential impacts, the participants had to decide where and when to order coastal evacuations.

NHC Director Ken Graham address the two dozen participants from the Southeast U.S. who are about to take part in the FEMA L-0324 course. February 10, 2020  Photo credit: NOAA Communications




The International Women in Aviation Conference was held March 5-7 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Women in Aviation International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests. This year a total attendance of nearly 4,500 included 142 international representatives from 31 countries.

The Meteorologist in Charge of the Denver Central Weather Service Unit joined representatives from the Aviation Weather Center. This provided a great opportunity to explain the various roles performed in the National Airspace System and the aviation services provided by the NWS. Since weather plays a vital role in aviation, various types of aviation careers were discussed with attendees. In addition, many weather questions were answered. A very common theme expressed by the attendees was an appreciation of the products and services provided by the National Weather Service.

Left to Right: Karen Eagle; Meteorologist in Charge CWSU Denver, Katie Deroche; AWC Senior Aviation Forecaster, Emily Ireland; AWC Research/Development Meteorologist, LCDR Ron Moyers; Executive Officer, AWC



NASA-NOAA Space Weather R2O2R Report to the Executive Office of the President

The NASA-NOAA Space Weather R2O2R Framework was completed and presented to representatives from the Executive Office of the President on February 27th during a meeting at NASA Headquarters. This meeting was requested by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the National Security Council (NSC) , to get an update on agency progress to develop an R2O2R framework. This was a follow-up to the August 2019 meeting held at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) to introduce an effective R2O2R process for space weather in response to multiple Executive directives. The R2O2R Framework was presented by SWPC Director, Clinton Wallace and NASA Heliophysics Science Division Director, Nicky Fox.


NOAA and NASA are jointly leading the Framework initiative to foster the collaborative transition of new and/or updated capabilities from a variety of sources including academia and commercial enterprises, into operations such that:

  • Capabilities are efficiently transitioned from research-to-operations (R2O);
  • Forecasters and other operators engage in capability evaluation and testing, providing feedback from operations-to-research (O2R); and
  • Specific, controlled, operational experiments determine the efficacy and impact of new or updated capabilities.

The Framework introduces the Space Weather Proving Grounds, with initial participation by NASA’s Community Coordinated Modeling Center (CCMC) and SWPC’s Space Weather Prediction Testbed.


Research to NOAA-Operations to Research Process


Space Weather Assessment of Commercial Weather Data Pilot Program Submitted

The Space Weather Prediction Center’s final report for the Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) Round 2 was submitted to NESDIS on February 21, 2020. The analysis was completed by the Univ. of Colorado Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), NCEP Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), and NCAR Developmental Testbed Center (DTC). The results of this assessment are currently being studied and are expected to be released soon.

All signals from Global Navigation Satellite Systems (such as GPS) used for positioning, navigation and timing on Earth and in aircraft must travel through the ionosphere to reach us. When the ionosphere is disturbed due to space weather, the availability and accuracy of these signals is impacted. Products and services provided by SWPC rely on models of Earth’s ionosphere to inform customers, such as the global aviation industry, when disturbances occur.

As illustrated in the accompanying figure, a satellite orbiting close to Earth detects signals from a GNSS satellite after the signals pass through the ionosphere. By analyzing the signals, properties of the ionosphere are determined, such as the electron density and its level of disturbance. The CWDP report documents the assessment of the potential benefit from commercially provided radio occultation data when used in Earth-system data assimilation models. SWPC looks forward to the operational utilization of new sources of radio occultation data, including the recently launched COSMIC-2 constellation.

Figure credit: UCAR COSMIC Data Analysis and Archive Center


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