New Precipitation Web Page Unveiled By National Weather Service

High-quality precipitation analyses used for flood forecasts, drought monitoring and climate trends are being made available on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service Web site on a trial basis through June 2006.

Officials announced on Nov. 28 that during this time, they will collect comments regarding the service to determine whether it effectively meets users' needs and whether the service should be continued after the trial period.

Fine resolution precipitation data will help government agencies, river authorities, agribusiness, hydro-power utility companies and others make better, more cost- effective decisions about water management and the impacts of water surpluses and shortages. Emergency management agencies will be able to monitor impending flood conditions and conduct more effective operations during floods, officials said.

"Water resource managers can use this information to optimize water allocation to meet competing municipal, industrial and environmental demands," stated Thomas Graziano, PhD, chief of the hydrological services program for NOAA's National Weather Service. "The emergency management community and the public at large can more effectively anticipate and respond to flood situations."

The precipitation analysis combines high resolution radar observations from 150 National Weather Service Doppler radars and measurements from more than 4,000 rain gauges. Data resolution is approximately 4 kilometers (2.2 miles), and the analysis is updated daily for the contiguous states and Puerto Rico.

The Web site provides access to graphics of precipitation totals for the previous day, the last seven days, the last 14 days, the current month to date, and the current year to date. Graphics are also available comparing precipitation estimates to normal precipitation, as a percentage of normal, and departure from normal. Users have the option of downloading the information shown in these graphics in geographic information systems (GIS) format as well as in NetCDF, a format used widely within the meteorological community.

Precipitation Analysis: http://www.srh.noaa.gov/rfcshare/precip_analysis_new.php

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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