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NWS Activities for the Benefit of Surface Transportation Weather. Dr. Jim O’Sullivan NOAA Surface Weather Program Manager Data Management Team Lead NWS Observing Services Division. Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting Washington, D.C. 10 January 2009. Outline.

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NWS Activities for the Benefit of Surface Transportation Weather

Dr. Jim O’Sullivan

NOAA Surface Weather Program Manager

Data Management Team Lead

NWS Observing Services Division

Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting

Washington, D.C.

10 January 2009


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Outline Weather

  • Introduction – NOAA Surface Weather Program

  • NWS Support for State and Local Presentations

  • MADIS Transition into NWS Operations and Integration of Clarus Capabilities

  • NOAA Need for DOT/Clarus Road Weather Information


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NOAA’s Surface Weather WeatherProgram

  • NOAA is responsible for protecting life and property and promoting safe and efficient commerce and transportation

  • Weather contributes to over 7,400 fatalities, over 600,000 injuries, and 1,400,000 weather-related

  • highway crashes per year

  • Representing the needs of all surface transportation sectors, i.e., roadways, rail, transit and pipeline operations

  • Opportunity to improve safety

  • with timely weather information

  • that is transportation-relevant

Annual weather averages for the years 1997-2006; adverse road conditions from 1996-2005. Compiled from Storm Data, NWS and NCDC and the DOT Fatality Analysis Reporting System


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Surface Weather within NOAA’s Commerce & Transportation Goal

  • “Port to Door”

  • Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS) Transition to Operations

    • National Surface Weather Observing System (NSWOS)

    • Hosted at the NWS’ National Centers for Environmental Prediction

    • Integration with DOT’s Clarus Initiative

  • MADIS transition is key to providing data management support for NOAA/C&T and NWS mission

    • Integration of other NOAA and non-NOAA networks

    • NOAA essential services and customer requirements

    • Foundation for future in-situ and mobile sensor observations


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NWS Support to GoalDepartments of Transportation


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NWS Support for DOTs: GoalBackground

  • 2003 – National Research Council publishes Fair Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services (National Academy Press, 2003)

  • In partnership with the private sector, NWS has been responding, re-evaluating, and defining services since Fair Weather’s release

  • NWS, FHWA, and private sector representatives contributed together on drafting and/or reviewing the policy prior to public comment period

  • Memo signed June 30, 2009, and sent to NWS Regions, HQ Offices, and all Staff Offices

  • NWS Instruction currently being developed

  • Not a change in current level of support, but clarification of NWS commitment


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NWS Guidance Memo Goal

  • NWS support of DOTs focuses on our expertise and understanding of the evolution and timing of hazardous weather events.

  • The NWS does not :

    • Have specialized expertise in forecasting surface/pavement conditions of roads

    • Have the expertise to assess road treatment options

  • Points the reader to America’s Weather Industry (private sector providers of weather services) for these types of services

  • Information which goes beyond the strict provision of information related to expected weather conditions as it relates to travel safety is left to the private sector

  • Most recent questions have come clarifying specific items and by Environment Canada (also related to data ownership)


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NWS DOT Policy Principles Goal

  • NWS has an uncompromising commitment to public safety

  • Various inclement weather conditions may expose motorists to potentially hazardous weather conditions which can result in heightened threats to safety, life and/or property

  • DOTs require dependable understanding of, and communication with respect to, rapidly-evolving hazardous weather situations which impact public safety.

  • NWS has a commitment to work with America’s Weather Industry to provide the Nation with optimum weather services, including information in support of safe motorist travel

  • NWS staff are to refer DOTs to America’s Weather Industry for services or issues that transcend NWS’ mission


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NWS DOT Policy Principles Goal

  • NWS offices may respond to questions from (or initiate contact with) local, municipal and/or state DOTs for the purpose of ensuring motorist safety, and for protecting life and property.

    • These interactions should focus on helping to facilitate an understanding by DOTs of our standard product content and of the evolution and timing of hazardous weather conditions

  • NWS/DOT interaction will also occur in certain non-routine situations that may be critical to public safety, such as fires, hazardous material incidents, heavy fog, and dangerous conditions that fall below the criteria for issuance of, or are not well covered by standard NWS products


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NWS DOT Policy Principles Goal

  • Examples of what NWS can do:

    • Initiate contact with DOTs or respond to questions from DOTs regarding significant weather events where public safety is at risk.

    • Interact with DOTs in non-routine situations that may be critical to public safety that fall below the criteria for issuance of, or are not well covered by standard NWS products

    • NWS may initiate contact with DOTs if previously-issued forecast information has changed that might significantly impact motorist safety or if the timing of an expected event has substantially changed

    • NWS personnel may provide a site-specific forecast upon request of any local, municipal or state DOT official who legitimately indicates that the forecast is essential to public safety

    • Work directly with DOTs prior to and during flood events impacting state and local transportation infrastructure (including events caused by ice jams, precipitation and/or rapid snow melt)


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NWS DOT Policy Principles Goal

  • Examples of what NWS can do:

    • Coordinate on local mitigation activities for tropical weather systems and coastal extra-tropical systems (e.g., with respect to storm surge forecasting)

    • Interact to obtain severe weather and storm verification (e.g., via downed tree reports during cleanup, snow accumulation amounts)

    • Interact via Customer Service Workshops and “Awareness Weeks”

    • Provide basic weather and SKYWARN training, including training on how to access and use standard NWS products of all types


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NWS DOT Policy Principles Goal

  • Examples of what NWS can do:

    • Initiate validation of observations with available automated observations

    • Coordinate and provide input in the selection of sites for DOT weather observation installation and upgrades (e.g. RWIS)

    • Work with DOTs in coordination and leasing of sites for NWS observation and dissemination instruments, equipment and platforms

    • Consult with DOTs regarding appropriate local warning and advisory criteria (e.g., winter weather and dense fog)


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NWS DOT Policy Principles Goal

  • Examples of what is beyond the scope of NWS personnel:

    • It is NWS policy not to provide site-specific forecasts or direct forecasting support to city, county or state DOT officials when the support is not related to the promotion of public safety and/or the protection of life and property

    • NWS personnel will not provide specialized weather support and customized consulting services to DOTs (e.g., forecasts of road surface temperatures or provision of advice as to which road chemicals are best suited for a particular circumstance)

      • Requests for these specialized consulting services will be referred to America’s Weather Industry

    • NWS personnel will not provide customized products (e.g., customized seasonal forecasts) for the purpose of supporting DOTs with their planning which is not directly weather-related (e.g., optimizing pre-season salt purchases).


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MADIS Transition into GoalNWS Operations


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MADIS Transition Background Goal

History

  • Established in 2001 to prototype new observation access, integration, quality control, and distribution techniques for real time and saved real-time data

Goal

  • To make NOAA and other-agency observations easily accessible and usable for operations, research, and commercial purposes

Benefit

  • A more uniform, complete, accurate, and higher-density observational infrastructure for use in local weather warnings and products, model predictions, and hazardous situations, and management and operations


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MADIS System Capabilities Goal

Supported Capabilities

  • Integrated observations with uniform formats and time stamps

  • On-the-fly, flexible, data reformatting

  • Continuous database updates triggered by arriving observations

  • Increased data density

  • High temporal resolution

  • Web-enabled push/pull distribution capabilities, with server-side slice and dice capabilities

  • Seamless access to real-time and saved datasets

  • Secure authentication for proprietary data


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MADIS Transition Status Goal

  • Major transition milestones:

    • Initial Operating Status (IOC): June 2010

    • Full Operating Status (FOC): June 2011

    • ESRL Archive transferred to NCDC: 2012

  • Present Status:

    • NCEP and NWS Telecommunications Operations Center (TOC) transition managers now part of Working Team – establishing roles and responsibilities

    • Code transfer completed on-time - September 30, 2009

    • Operational Test and Evaluation (OTE) commences in February

      • Will continue for 30-60 days


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Clarus Goal Integration

  • Ultimate goal is for most critical capabilities of Clarus system to be incorporated into MADIS

  • DOT delivered “Clarus Needs in MADIS” document to NWS in November defining capabilities and other thresholds needed

  • DOT needs meeting/web conference

    • FHWA, RITA, NWS, NOAA Research, contractors

    • Major needs included data acquisition, dissemination, and quality control/checking

  • NWS will provide formal written and oral response to DOT in late February or March



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NOAA Use of Clarus Data Goal

  • NOAA (NWS) makes extensive use of non-NOAA data sources

  • NWS Field Offices use disparate sources in preparation of forecasts, warnings, and verification

  • NWS National Centers and Headquarter Offices use government and select non-government sources for research and future improvements

  • With MADIS Transition underway, focus has been on technical and logistical exchanges to NCEP and TOC

  • Reduced ability to incorporate new datasets into MADIS in Boulder


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NWS Request for Future MADIS Datasets Goal

  • In Summer and Fall of 2009, Office of Services requested all NWS Field units to prioritize unincorporated or incomplete datasets they felt necessary for their Operations

  • Highest priority among field was full assimilation/incorporation of Mesowest data, which is a special situation

  • Next highest datasets were specific State DOT RWIS observations

  • Below specific RWIS, agreed-upon consensus of State DOTs not already in MADIS or Mesowest

  • Other networks include agricultural networks, non-federal AWOS stations, and City of Denver


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NWS Request for Future MADIS Datasets Goal

  • In Summer and Fall of 2009, Office of Services requested all NWS Field units to prioritize unincorporated or incomplete datasets they felt necessary for their Operations

  • Highest priority among field was full assimilation/incorporation of Mesowest data, which is a special situation

  • Next highest datasets were specific State DOT RWIS observations

  • Below specific RWIS, agreed-upon consensus of State DOTs not already in MADIS or Mesowest

  • Other networks include agricultural networks, non-federal AWOS stations, and City of Denver


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Other NOAA Interest in Clarus Data Goal

  • NESDIS: National Climatic Data Center wants data for research and informational products.

    • Very interested in expanded metadata

  • National Ocean Service: wants to include roadway information for future incorporation in maritime and port products and forecasting

  • NOAA Research: future model and product development and verification


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NOAA Surface Weather Program Goal

For questions or comments, contact:

Jim O’Sullivan:

[email protected]

(301) 713-1858 x176


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