The National Weather Service (NWS) of the United States has recently completed its modernization phase. This comprehensive modernization has put into place new observing systems, both ground-based and in space. The modernization has also involved the consolidation of field forecast offices, the relocation of field offices, and changes in the staffing profiles of field offices. Finally, next generation supercomputing facilities, communications, and interactive systems have been installed. Taken together, these substantial investments have resulted in a new and flexible infrastructure that is producing significant improvements in NWS weather forecasts and warnings. Benefits can also be found in the value-added services provided by the private sector. Anticipated advances scientifically and technologically will provide abundant opportunities for further major improvements to weather services of the future. Accuracy and specificity will improve on all relevant time and space scales, and the world of information technology will ensure that weather forecasts are provided to all who need them expeditiously and reliably. The challenge to the NWS, and to all who provide weather services, is to ensure that the results of research are effectively, regularly, and cost-effectively transferred into the operational system. For this to happen, the research agenda must be properly structured and the community of researchers, forecasters, and users must work interactively and cooperatively.
National Center f o r Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado (The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation)
NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory, Boulder, Colorado