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National Weather Service
A High Impact Agency...we make a difference

Reinvention Goals for 2000
Status - August 2000


The National Weather Service (NWS) has a direct impact on the well-being of America and a history of accomplishment as a designated NPR "High Impact Agency."   The successful completion of a $4.5 billion investment program in weather service modernization has dramatically improved NWS performance, especially for warnings of dangerous weather, and is making a significant contribution to the American economy.  At the same time, restructuring office operations has closed 184 offices.   Continued improvements in the context of the five reinvention goals for the NWS are reported below.

Delivering Great Service Internal Reinvention
Goal: NWS-01 Goal: NWS-04
Goal: NWS-02 Goal: NWS-05
Goal: NWS-03  

Delivering Great Service

Goal: NWS-01  Generate annual savings to the economy by improving the quality and utility of environmental forecasts and services.

Former U.S. Secretary of Commerce William M. Daley said, "Weather is big business. It can help or hurt a community. One-seventh of our economy, about $1 trillion a year, is weather sensitive." The innovative use of weather, water and climate information is increasing our safety and productivity and improving the Nation's competitiveness to enhance our standard of living. For example, the highly accurate long-range predictions issued by our Climate Prediction Center for the 1997-98 El Nino led California to conduct major mitigation efforts that led to a reduction in losses of about $1 billion.

As an NPR-designated "high-impact agency," the National Weather Service leads NOAA's participation in the Natural Disaster Reduction Initiative (NDRI), a program that seeks to reduce the costs of natural disasters to society and the U.S. economy by improving the quality and utility of environmental forecasts and services. Following are examples of how we support this program:

Goal: NWS-02   Double the average lead time for severe weather events and achieve a 30 percent increase in pin-pointing landfall of hurricanes.

Our goal is to deliver a credible, timely and relevant suite of weather, water and climate products and services which meet our customer's needs. We are upgrading our products and services to meet these goals. When seconds count, additional warning lead times can mean the difference between life and death. There's still work to do but our average lead times for severe weather are improving significantly. For example:

In addition to improving lead times, our customers want more specific severe weather watches. During this year's spring and summer seasons, we issued a test product, "Watch by County", along with our operational watches, to better define and update watch areas. We are soliciting customer feedback on the utility of this test product.

Hurricanes pose a huge threat to the nation both in potential loss of life and economic devastation. The National Weather Service provides information that is the country's first line of defense against these storms. Last year, for the first time, we issued an outlook for the hurricane season -- and it verified well. For the 2000 North Atlantic Hurricane Season we also are forecasting an above-average number of storms. An average season brings 10 tropical storms and six hurricanes of which two are classified as intense.

We owe it to the public, to the emergency managers and decision makers, to continue improving our hurricane forecasts. Twenty-four hour track forecast error 30 years ago was 140 miles; this has been reduced to 100 miles with a goal of 80 miles by 2005. By 2005, the NWS also plans to increase hurricane warning lead time from 19 (current) to over 24 hours, and improve hurricane intensity (wind speed) forecasts by 20%.

Goal: NWS-03   Provide improved and timely public access to weather information ranging from current weather events to long range seasonal and inter-annual flood and weather forecasts.

The National Weather Service must do more than simply produce better products and services. Critical information must to get to the people who need it and get there in a form they can use. For potentially life-saving warnings, NOAA Weather Radio, the media, and even paging services remain the best sources for communicating short-fuse warning situations. For less time-critical forecasts and weather information, the internet is a key means for delivery:

We currently have 22 StormReady communities located in 10 states with an additional 25 in the application process. Our goal is to identify at least 20 StormReady communities annually through 2005.

Internal Reinvention

Goal: NWS-04  Reduce the cost to the private sector of the collection and dissemination of near real-time weather data and information through partnership with the academic community and private sector.

Government agencies, private companies, academia, the media, emergency managers and the public all rely on National Weather Service data, products and services. Our data and products form a national information data base and infrastructure.

By collecting and distributing data and information through more efficient high speed communications lines and NOAAPORT, which is a satellite broadcast network, we are reducing costs. For the cost of essential equipment to down link the information, the public, universities, and industry now have access to nearly all data collected by the National Weather Service free of charge.

Goal: NWS-05   Streamline weather service activities which will result in a more highly trained staff, increased productivity, reduced management overhead, and reduction of the number of field offices from over 300 to 121.

Currently, 92 percent of our weather offices scheduled to close have already closed (184 of 200). Decisions on 10 additional offices are scheduled for this year. The remaining offices require actions over the next several years before decisions can be made.

NPR Federal Employee Survey: NOAA Results

  Page Author :  Jim Valdez, National Weather Service
Last Modified : Thursday, December 21, 2000

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