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Powerful Winter Storm Pounding Parts Of The Northeast and Great Lakes

A powerful winter storm is organizing near the eastern Great Lakes and will slowly lift through southeastern Canada over the next day. Heavy snow and gusty winds will wallop areas from western and Upstate New York into northern New England. Then extremely heavy lake effect snow will pound areas downwind of the Great Lakes, especially off Lakes Erie and Ontario, through Saturday afternoon. Read More >

NCEP 2020 Quarter 1 Newsletter



Senator Jerry Moran Visits Aviation Weather Center

U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kansas), a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, visited the Aviation Weather Center November 26. Robert Maxson, Director of the Aviation Weather center, led a tour of the facility. Jesse Sparks, Lead Forecaster, provided a briefing of the Forecast Operations. The tour included a visit to the Aviation Services Branch Testbed where the Senator was able to meet several of the research and development meteorologists. 

Senator Moran serves as chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies. This allows him to lead the funding decisions that impact several agencies including the Department of Commerce. Senator Moran has cosponsored legislation to ensure that there are enough air traffic controllers to accommodate the increasing staffing needs at FAA air traffic control facilities and at the 256 airports that participate in the FAA’s Contract Tower Program. The legislation allows controllers who retire from federal service to work as controllers at smaller contract tower airports without their federal annuity supplement being reduced or eliminated entirely. 


Left to right: Matt Strahan (International Operations Branch Chief, AWC), Robert Maxson (Director Aviation Weather Center), Senator Jerry Moran(R-Kansas), and Jesse Sparks (Lead Meteorologist Aviation Weather Center)




Climate Prediction Center Issues 2019-20 Winter Outlook

The Climate Prediction Center issued the Winter Outlook for December 2019 – February 2020 via a press teleconference and press release on October 17, 2019.   The temperature outlook favors a warmer-than-normal winter over Alaska, Hawaii, and large parts of the remaining lower 48 from the West across the South and up the eastern seaboard.  No part of the U.S. is favored to have below-average temperatures this winter, with the northern Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley, and the western Great Lakes having equal chances of below-, near-, or above-average temperatures.  Although below-average temperatures are not favored, cold weather is still likely and some areas could experience a colder-than-average winter.

The winter precipitation outlook favors wetter-than-average conditions in Alaska and Hawaii, along with portions of the Northern Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes and parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.  Drier-than-average conditions are most likely for Louisiana, parts of Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma as well areas of northern and central California. 

Abnormally dry conditions were present across much of the Southern U.S. at the start of the winter, with the areas of most severe drought observed in the Four Corners region of the Southwest, central Texas and parts of the Southeast.  Drought is expected to improve in portions of the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic, Alaska and Hawaii, while persisting in central Texas and the Southwest and developing in parts of central California. 

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




 December 2019 – February 2020 Outlooks for temperature (left) and precipitation (right).



NCEP Central Operations Goes Live With the SPADES Application on IDP


On December 16, 2019, NCEP Central Operations (NCO) implemented a new application, SPADES, onto the Integrated Dissemination Program (IDP) systems housed in data centers in College Park, MD and Boulder, CO.  Implementation onto IDP means that an application is run on a robust, centralized computing system with 24x7 monitoring and support that enables the application to meet the requirements of the NWS customers and partners.

SPADES, the Satellite Product Analysis and Distribution Enterprise System, acquires Level 1B space weather products in real time from the GOES-16 satellite and processes this data to produce Level 2 space weather products in NetCDF and FITS format.  These products are then delivered by IDP to the NWS’ Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) for use in their forecast operations.  The products can also be shared with other partners as appropriate.  An upcoming upgrade of SPADES will add processing of output from the GOES-17 satellite as well.

The path to implementation for SPADES followed NCO’s rigorous IDP onboarding process.  This months-long effort includes working closely with developers from SWPC and NOAA NCEI’s National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) to ensure the application adhered to NCO’s coding standards and could be integrated into the larger IDP environment.  Staff of NCO’s Implementation and Data Services Branch set up all necessary infrastructure and data pathways, and the Onboarding Team installed the code and conducted functionality and IT stability tests.  They also coordinated with the developers and SWPC to ensure the output data was correct.  All of this work resulted in the successful initial implementation of SPADES in December.


Image of the sun as shown by GOES-16-based SUVI imagery  Photo credit Seaton & Darnell, 2018. 


National Hurricane Center celebrates RSMC Tokyo’s 30th Anniversary

NHC Director Ken Graham traveled to the other side of the globe in October, representing NOAA at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center (RSMC) in Tokyo, Japan.

Regional Specialized Meteorological Centers are established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). There are seven such centers worldwide, including the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla.  In 1988, the WMO assigned the Japan Meteorological Agency as an RSMC for the Northwestern Pacific. The next year, the RSMC Tokyo-Typhoon Center was established within the headquarters office. It’s responsible for the forecasting and dissemination of tropical in the Northwest Pacific region, which includes the Celebes Sea, the Sulu Sea, the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea, the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk.


Director Ken Graham presents a plaque on behalf of NHC to Itara Kaga, Deputy Director of the Japan Meteorological Agency, during a ceremony in Tokyo, Japan, on October 10, 2019. Photo credit: NOAA Communications​


National Hurricane Center hosts annual NOAA Hurricane Conference

The ink is barely dry on the 2019 hurricane season, but planning and preparation is already underway for the 2020 season. It begins with the annual NOAA Hurricane Conference, hosted in Miami by the National Hurricane Center on December 3-6. The 4-day meetings included representatives of several branches of the National Weather Service at the national and regional levels, both on-site and via go-to-meeting. Among the many items on the agenda, attendees discussed experiments and potential tropical product and service changes in 2020, and feedback from external partners.


The annual NOAA Hurricane Conference at NHC in Miami, Fla. December 3, 2019. Photo credit: NOAA Communications



Commencement of Space Weather Services within ICAO


Regulated services for space weather under the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) commenced on 7 November 2019. This impact-based space weather advisory service is implemented by a joint operation of three global SWX centers: the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center, PECASUS consortium, and ACFJ consortium, with each center providing the service for 2 weeks in turn.  PECASUS is led by the Finnish Meteorological Institute and is comprised of ICAO member states Finland, Belgium, United Kingdom, Austria, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Cyprus, and South Africa.  ACFJ is comprised of ICAO member states Australia, Canada, Japan, and France.  In this service model, one center is always on duty while the two other centers are providing back-up service.  These services cover likely space weather impacts to high-frequency communications, satellite communications, navigation, and radiation exposure for passengers and crew.  The ICAO press release provides additional information on these services. 

Image Credit: NASA



Weather Prediction Center Makes Experimental Winter Storm Outlook and Winter Storm Severity Index Web Pages Publicly Available


The Weather Prediction Center (WPC) recently debuted two new experimental products to add context to winter weather forecasts across the contiguous United States -- the Winter Storm Outlook (WSO) and the Winter Storm Severity Index (WSSI).

The WSO presents the probability of exceeding local warning criteria for hazardous snow and ice accumulations over the next three days. It is a cooperative effort among WPC and local Weather Forecast Office (WFO) forecasters, and will lead to greater consistency in the issuance of Winter Storm Watches and unified messaging ahead of significant winter storms. The WSO is another step toward the NWS goal of improving collaborative and probabilistic winter forecast products.

As a parallel experiment to the WSO, the WSSI is being tested to determine its utility in assessing impacts from winter storms. Winter storm impacts are not entirely related to specific warning criteria, and thus WSSI utilizes a multivariate approach that includes components such as the weight of the snow, potential for blowing snow, and flash freezing, in addition to snow and ice accumulations. WSSI is a tool to help communicate a general level of potential societal impacts from winter storms.

Both products have been under internal development for several years and are now available for public use and comment. Feedback received online will be used to evaluate product development, and links to feedback forms are available on each web page.

An example of the Winter Storm Outlook product from October 2019, and the surrounding web interface. Users can zoom and pan on the map, switch between the snow and ice probabilities, change the basemap, and add a variety of map overlays.​


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