WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

Like a Basketball Game?

Posted January 9, 2006

They often seem to feature momentum swings, with lots of points all in a row by one team, then the other. Sometimes it works out that way with weather as well, with long streaks and runs when it comes to temperature and precipitation patterns - so far this "meteorological winter" we've seen a little of that around here, as a glance back at temperature records shows we fell below the norm for daily average temperature for the first 22 days of December in a row, then ran above normal for 15 straight days from 23 December through 5 January. A brief crossover to the chilly side of the street back on Friday came to an abrubt halt after only two days, though, as Saturday's high of 44 at RDU was followed by a mild 57 yesterday, and we should top THAT by 8 or 10 degrees today.

For now, the view ahead for the next couple of weeks looks to remain on the warm side, although a sharp but brief cooldown or two certainly could occur within that overall pattern. Here you'll see the outlooks for the 6-10 and 8-14 day period averages from the Climate Prediction Center, indicating a strong chance for above normal temperatures with normal-to-above normal precipitation amounts. Doesn't bode especially well for the prospect of significant wintry weather, although there would seem to be potential for a round or two of thunderstorms during the period. As I mentioned in the comments from last week's entry, we've certainly had some winters in the past where big snowstorms came very late in the season, and the longer range outlooks from the climate experts remain noncommittal as to the potential for above or below normal precip and temps for North Carolina through February and March.

Thought I'd also add a quick update today for anyone who followed my deployed posts in the "Duty Calls" blog June through early November. While I posted a number of photos to illustrate my surroundings there, cameras were prohibited in the building where I worked, and I was not able to give a visual sense of the environment I spent most of my working time in. A few days ago, I discovered that an official Army photograph of the same type of command center was available online, taken when display screens and computers in the center had been "sanitized" to remove any sensitive or classified information. Here is a small copy of that photo (update - I'll try again in a day or two to edit this in - for now, blogger doesn't seem to be properly ingesting ingesting/displaying the image after several tries...)

A much larger copy is available to the public at this adress. This picture was actually taken when all of the desks and screens were set up in a large room at Camp Doha, Kuwait. The entire operation was later moved to Camp Arifjan and arranged in a very similar configuration there. One small change was that the center "big screen" in the photo, composed of 4 smaller screens, was expanded to match the larger size of the left and right hand screens at Arifjan. The clocks atop the center screen show a series of times including Zulu (universal time) and local times in Atlanta (Third Army/CFLCC home headquarters), Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The entire facility goes by the name Combined Operations and Intelligence Center. During the invasion phase of the war, all ground operations were controlled from there. Now it oversees all sustainment of ground forces, i.e. moving large and small units in and out of theater, training and equipping forces moving through Kuwait, and maintaining the air, ground, and water-borne flow of equipment, fuel, food, water and ammunition, among other duties. The individual desks are manned by various components of the Coalition Forces Land Component Command staff (Personnel, Intelligence, Operations & Plans, Logistics, Communications, Public Affairs, Surgeon, etc), along with liaison officers and NCOs from supporting and supported units. As Staff Weather Officer for CFLCC, I had two positions of a three-person desk about halfway up and just to the right of center, where we maintained a watch on weather conditions, were available to answer any weather/climate questions (sometimes by telephone, sometimes by having someone yell "Hey, SWO!" across the room), and where we provided weather briefings as part of larger daily updates given locally to the general officers in the unit, and at the same time via video teleconference to other parts of the organization in Atlanta, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar and Djibouti. During the briefings, our weather slides were displayed on the center screen as part of the overall briefing sequence and we used a headset to listen to and participate in the briefing, while during the periods between briefings, we had a rotation of slides that displayed in a 4-panel window on the right-hand bank of screens, to maintain weather "situational awareness" for all the personnel working in the center.
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