Reflecting the changing and growing role of MPC in the marine
and ocean community, the name of the Marine Prediction Center was changed to the
Ocean Prediction Center (OPC) effective January 12, 2003. This change positions
the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for the future as the
role of the oceans expands in NOAA.
OPC continued its high level of outreach activities by providing
training to mariners on the use of its products, staffing booths at boat shows,
and providing safety at sea seminars. The Center also began providing a new
service - graphical depiction of ice accretion.
2. Major Accomplishments
OPC expands collaborative surface analysis efforts - On June
3, the OPC began collaboration with the Honolulu Weather Forecast Office (HFO)to
produce a seamless surface analysis. OPC now coordinates with the Tropical
Prediction Center (TPC), the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC), and
HFO to issue a set of consistent surface weather analyses to the public.
OPC provides new service - In June the OPC implemented the
graphical depiction of ice accretion on its charts covering the northern waters
of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Ice accretion can pose a deadly hazard to
vessels. Areas of moderate or greater ice accretion are delineated.
3. Conference Participation
OPC took part in four workshops and conferences - Joe
Sienkiewicz, Science and Operations Officer (SOO) and acting Chief of OPC's
Ocean Applications Branch (OAB) was invited to attend the Ocean Vector Winds
Science Team Meeting held in Oxnard, CA, January 13-16. The meeting was attended
by representatives from a variety of universities, NASA, NOAA, EUMETSAT, Japan's
NASDA, and the Navy's NRL and FNMOC. In his talk, Sienkiewicz described OPC
operations and presented several examples of QuikSCAT winds in high wind
September 22-25 he participated in the Cyclone Workshop hosted
by SUNY Albany and McGill University. The workshop was held in Val-Morin,
Quebec. Sienkiewicz discussed the operations of the OPC, including the hurricane
force cyclone climatology being developed at OPC. There was significant interest
in this effort by people from the United Kingdom and Pacific Northwest as they
have been victims of hurricane force wind events in the past.
He attended the first Weather Conference hosted by Lloyds of
London, October 14-15. The conference was held at the INMARSAT Centre in London.
Attendees ranged from public and private sector meteorologists, vendors of
various software packages, offshore and fast-ferry operators, and insurance
brokers. Sienkiewicz provided a talk on the impact of technology on operational
marine forecasting over the past 10 years.
In November Sienkiewicz spoke at a symposium on the sinking of
the steamer Portland . The vessel sank in 1898 with the loss of 192 lives. The
recent discovery of the wreck on the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary
has raised a great deal of interest in the weather associated with its loss. The
symposium was held at the Portland Harbor Museum in Portland, Maine, on November
7 and 8. Attendees included marine historians, marine archeologists, NOAA
National Ocean Service Marine Sanctuary Staff, relatives of those that lost
their lives, teachers, several authors, and marine museum staff (from a variety
of marine museums). Approximately 65 people listened to Sienkiewicz talk about
marine forecasting 100 years ago and today. He also described the evolution of
the storm that sank the Portland.
4. Training at Government Facilities
Twice during the year training was provided to external U.S.
government facilities - On March 29 OPC Joe Sienkiewicz gave a 45-minute talk
about weather safety at the 24th Annual Safety At Sea Seminar held at Alumni
Hall of the U.S. Naval Academy and co-hosted three one-hour panel discussions
concerning various aspects of safety. In addition, on March 29-30, the OPC
staffed a booth at the seminar, which was sponsored by the U.S. Naval Academy
Sailing Squadron and the Maryland Marine Trades Association. Approximately 220
sailors attended the seminar series along with 300 midshipmen. OPC Marine
Forecasters Dave Chorney, Todd Shaw, and George Bancroft, as well as Sienkiewicz,
worked at the OPC display booth, answering questions and handing out samples of
OPC analysis and forecast products.
Dave Feit, Chief of OPC's Ocean Forecast Branch (OFB),
participated in the NWS Western Region Marine Forecaster Training Workshop held
at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, May 20-23. Feit presented an
overview of OPC's products and areas of responsibility as well as some insights
into the OPC coordination process. He also explained the OPC system for quality
control of ship observations and how satellite-derived scatterometer winds are
used in the forecast process.
The Center provided staff at the Atlantic City International
Power Boat - OPC's Director Jim Hoke and Marine Forecaster Jim Clark teamed
up with the Mt. Holly, NJ, and Upton, NY, Weather Forecast Offices on February
5-9 to staff the NOAA booth at the Atlantic City International Power Boat Show.
The event is one of the world's leading boat shows with over 40,000 people
attending annually. The show offered an excellent opportunity to educate the
public on the NOAA marine program and to gain feedback on its strengths and
weaknesses. Perhaps the most frequently heard request was for NOAA to increase
the number of buoys along the East Coast. The boaters said they used the buoy
observations heavily and especially appreciated the recent improvements NOAA has
made to the accessibility of these data. Many attendees commented on the
improved quality of NOAA's marine forecasts and services over the last five
years, in general. Perhaps one of the most striking unsolicited comments came
from a fisherman who frequently works over 50 miles off the coast of New Jersey,
"Your forecasts keep us alive out there."
Marine safety presentations were a large segment of OPC outreach
activities - Lee Chesneau, OPC Marine Forecaster, gave 13 marine safety
presentations between January and October at venues on the east and west coasts.
Among them, he made a presentation on April 23-24 for the North Pacific Fishing
Vessel Owners Association in Seattle, WA. On October 25, he participated in
Trawlerfest held in Alameda, CA. There were 100 coastal and offshore sailors in
attendance for his presentation. On the east coast he participated in several in
September. These included SailExpo NY/NJ held at the Jersey City (NJ) Marina on
September 26 and Trawlerfest on September 27 in Solomons Island, MD. He
presented seminars on OPC warning and forecast products at these events, with
about 250 recreational mariners in attendance.
On March 1, Paul Vukits, OPC Senior Marine Forecaster, made a
marine safety presentation to the Singles on Sailboats Association's Spring
Training event held in Annapolis, MD. The Association consists of sail boaters
ranging in skill from novice to advanced. The presentation detailed the
functions of the OPC, OPC products, where and how to acquire our products, and
how to use OPC weather products for a safe passage.
Other outreach activities - On February 26, Joe Sienkiewicz
gave an invited talk to the staff of the Mystic Seaport Museum of America and
the Sea, located in Mystic, CT. Sienkiewicz provided a short history of marine
forecasting and then spoke about OPC operations, wind warnings, and products.
Approximately forty staff members attended the hour and a half seminar. Those in
attendance were historians, administrators, trustees, craftsmen, and volunteers.
Sienkiewicz also hosted nine science teachers from the Charles
County Public Schools on the afternoon of April 30. The teachers, who were
completing a course entitled "Water in the Earth System", received an
introduction to the OPC and to ocean forecasting.
Training for mariners on the use of OPC products was conducted
at a wide variety of locations during 2003 - Marine ForecasterLee
Chesneau made presentations on OPC warning products and services to the Advanced
Meteorology course at the Pacific Maritime Institute (PMI), Seattle, WA, on June
23-27 and October 20-24. The attendees were professional mariners who work
mostly on ships, tugboats, and ferries. Chesneau discussed in depth the NWS
marine program with emphasis on OPC warning, analysis, and forecast products.
He was an instructor on the Sea Education Association's
brigantine SSV Robert C. Seamans. Lee provided information on OPC
forecast and warning products and services to the student sailors on the voyage
from San Francisco to Los Angeles from August 8 to 13.
Three times in 2003 Chesneau hosted Advanced Meteorology course
students from the Maritime Institute of Technology and Graduate Studies (MITAGS)
in OPC's operations area at the NOAA Science Center on October 1. The students
were provided with an overview of OPC operations. In the case of the October 1
visit, the students participated in the hurricane hotline conference call for
Hurricane Kate. They also met with OPC Director Jim Hoke and OFB Chief Dave Feit
who conducted a question and answer feedback session with the students.
Chesneau provided several seminars at the annual Waterway Radio
and Cruising Club and Seven Seas Cruising Association Convention held in
Melbourne, FL, November 13-16. Over 600 mariners attended several seminars
Chesneau conducted as part of the convention. OPC warning analyses and forecast
products and their interpretation were covered. He also distributed information
packets and answered questions from attendees throughout the convention. He
participated in the Winlink-sponsored day long seminar which focused on
accessing OPC text and graphic products at sea. Winlink is a marine
communications hardware and software company.
6. Special Activities
Support to NOAA HAZMAT - On January 29, the OPC provided
forecast support to NOAA HAZMAT in Seattle for a vessel which had the potential
of creating a major oil spill. The vessel, a 410-foot car carrier, was located
160-180 nautical miles east of Cape Fear. The crew was evacuated on January 24.
The vessel was listing severely and leaking diesel fuel, lubrication oil, and
number 6 oil. A tug boat was dispatched to see if it could be towed to safe
harbor. OPC continued to provide support to the HAZMAT staff over the next
several days. The result was a successful conclusion to the operation and praise
to OPC for the crucial weather support it provided.
OPC provides tour and information to National Ice Center (NIC)
staff - On June 5, National Ice Center (NIC) staff visited the OPC. They
were briefed on OPC operations by Dave Feit and on technical issues by Joe
Sienkiewicz. Included in discussions were ways of increasing the sharing of
information between OPC and NIC.
OPC hosts summer students - Two college students spent part
of the summer at the OPC. Joi Copridge, a physics major at Clark Atlanta
University, was with the OPC from June 5 through July 23, working on a project
involving hurricane force storms. Jodi Min, a senior at the United States Coast
Guard Academy, worked at the OPC from June 23 through July 25. She also studied
hurricane-force oceanic storms, a topic of increasing interest and understanding
in the OPC.
OPC meteorologist provides marine training at COMET - Joe
Sienkiewicz attended the first COMAP Planetary Boundary Layer Symposium, held at
COMET in Boulder, CO, on September 8-12. The course was attended by 26 SOOs,
Warning and Coordination Meteorologists, and Lead Forecasters from the NWS and
one Canadian forecaster from British Columbia. Sienkiewicz gave seminar
illustrating the wind speed gradients observed across the sea surface
temperature gradients of the Gulf Stream.
Swell Pictures interviews OPC SOO - On February 20, a
production crew from Swell Pictures of Los Angeles, CA, filmed the operations
area of the Ocean Prediction Center. Swell Pictures was putting together a
one-hour documentary describing a swell event this past January that impacted
both the Hawaiian and central California coastlines. The SOO Joe Sienkiewicz was
interviewed and provided information regarding swell generation and propagation.
Sienkiewicz also described the evolution of the North Pacific storm that
produced the swell train. The completed documentary was released late in 2003.
Fox News interviews Ocean Forecast Branch Chief - On
September 18 Dave Feit gave a live interview to Fox Television News regarding
the extremely high waves off the east coast associated with approaching
Hurricane Isabel. Feit pointed out the area of 50-foot waves just off the mouth
of the Chesapeake Bay and noted they would play a large part in the storm surge
OPC featured in magazine - The OPC was featured in the
December 2003 issue of Cruising World magazine. Earlier the author, Ralph
Naranjo, had visited OPC to gain a first-hand understanding of the center in
preparation for the article about marine weather forecasting.
Cline Awards were presented to OPC Staff - OPC Marine
Forecasters David Chorney, Curt Janota, Robert Oszajca, and Fran Achorn were
recognized for initiating a new and innovative method of assessing the
performance of OPC in issuing graphical warnings for the north Pacific and
SOO Joe Sienkiewicz was recognized for showing vision and
providing excellent leadership in the incorporation of QuikSCAT satellite data
into OPC's daily operations. QuikSCAT furnishes valuable information over the
data sparse oceans.
9. OPC Staff as of December 31, 2003
James Hoke, Director
Kevin McCarthy, Deputy Director
Crystal Rickett, Administrative Officer
Jeanette Rolen, Secretary
Ocean Forecast Branch
David Feit, Branch Chief
Senior Marine Forecasters: Scott Prosise, Edward Schoenberg,
Douglas Scovil, Paul Vukits, Robert Oszajca
Marine Forecasters: Kevin Achorn, Frances Achorn, George
Bancroft, Lee Chesneau, David Chorney, James Clark, Joe Cope, Joseph
Czarniecki, Pedro Fritz, James Kells, Hugh McRandal, David Mills, James Nolt,
Michael Rowland, Todd Shaw
Ocean Applications Branch
Joseph Sienkiewicz, Acting Branch Chief/Science and
Curt Janota, Meteorologist Developer
Personnel Changes in 2003
James Kells joined OPC as a forecaster in January
Marine Forecaster, Lee Chesneau, preparing the morning forecast package for
the Pacific offshore area.
Ocean Forecast Branch Chief, Dave Feit, being interviewed by Fox Television
News about the extreme waves generated by hurricane Isabel.