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NWSTD Forecaster Development Program

Welcome to the Forecaster Development Program!
  • Overview
  • Competencies
  • Learning Plans
  • Core Learning Plans
  • Supplemental Learning Plans
  • Contact Info


The NWS Forecaster Development Program (FDP) is a training program established for a newly hired meteorologist intern to gain the knowledge, skills, and experience necessary to become a full performance forecaster. The program generally takes about 2 to 3 years to complete after a new intern is hired.


To provide a basic core set of training and work experience to prepare a meteorologist intern to become a full performance forecaster at a Weather Forecast Office (WFO), or equivalent position at a National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) office or other NWS office.


The FDP training program consists of on-the-job training, web-based modules, instructor led training (classroom and virtual), weather event simulations, mentoring and coaching. The training is administered at the local NWS office by the intern's supervisor or designated training coordinator.


To help you prepare for a general forecast position in the NWS, the Forecaster Development program (FDP) includes these core competencies. The competencies and skills are achieved through a variety of delivery methods which include online courses, instructor led training (both classroom and virtual), on-the-job training, mentoring, and coaching.

  1. Describe the mission and basic organizational structure of the NWS and its parent government agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
  2. Review the key concepts and services in the NWS Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) Roadmap document. Discuss the WRN vision and goals with your supervisor and colleagues.
  3. Perform local data collection and/or quality control of data that is used to produce products or deliver services to accomplish the NWS’s mission.
  4. Use all NWS systems and software applications operationally to support the issuance of forecasts and warnings.
  5. Analyze storm structure and determine associated hazards using WSR-88D dual-pol base data base and derived products.
  6. Analyze, interpret, and apply in situ data, remote sensing data, and numerical model data to forecast weather elements contained in the NWS National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) or other forecast elements not part of the NDFD such as aviation, marine, etc.
  7. Embrace the value of communication and working together as an integrated team to better meet NWS’s mission and strategic goals of building a Weather Ready Nation.

Learning Plan

A learning plan is a collection educational and training activities that are grouped together so a person can acquire knowledge and skills in a particular area or topic. Training activities may include but not limited to: online courses, videos, webinars, classroom training, participation in discussion groups, software simulation exercises or reading assignments.

Learning plans are available in the NWS Learning Center. They can be assigned to you or be made available for self enrollment. The FDP learning plans are usually assigned to you by your supervisor or training coordinator.


These learning plans cover the core training requirements for the Forecaster Development Program (FDP). The learning plans are available in the NWS Learning Center.

Learning Plans Description
NWS New Hire (2014) Mandatory training for all new employees.
NWSTC FDP Hydrology Hydrologic concepts and introduction WHFS software.
NWSTC FDP Aviation TAFs, DLAC 1 & 2, and customer impacts.
NWSTC FDP Convective Weather Principles of convection, forecasting convection, and storm types.
NWSTC FDP Climate Climate variability, products, and services.
NWSTC FDP QPF Quantitative precipitation forecasting.
NWSTC FDP Numerical Modeling Numerical models - how they work and applications.
NWSTC FDP Decision Support Decision support and communications with partners and customers.
NWSTC FDP Space Weather Impacts of space weather and handling space weather inquiries.
SHyMet Intern Development Plan Satellite training including geostationary and polar orbiting.
WDTB DLOC Initial operations training on the WSR-88D.
WDTB AWOC Core & Severe Advanced training on using the WSR-88D radar.

The following learning plans may be required for new interns at some NWS offices and national centers. The learning plans are available in the NWS Learning Center.

Learning Plans Description
Required Baseline NWS Marine Training Required for Marine Forecasters per NWSI 10-340
COMET: S-290 Intermediate Wildland Fire Behavior Course This suite of 13 modules includes wildland fire environments, characteristics, and interactions that affect fire behavior.
COMET: Winter Weather Distance Learning Course This series of modules covers winter weather microphysics, precipitation types, and applications of NWP ensembles.
COMET: An Overview of Tropical Meteorology This series of modules cover atmospheric processes in the tropics, tropical cyclone analysis, and prediction.

Training coordinators at the NWS regions and National Service Centers provide oversight for the Forecaster Development Program. Your supervisor is responsible for ensuring you have the resources and time to acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities. Typically the Science and Operations Officer (SOO) or training coordinator will provide oversight for the training.

The majority of the "Core" Learning Plans in the NWS Learning Center are maintained by the NWS Training Division. If you have questions, please contact your supervisor, training coordinator, or Jerry Griffin at the NWS Training Center.

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