NOAA/National Weather Service's Warning Decision Training BranchUnited States Department of Commerce

FY17 WOC Core, Severe, and Flash Flood Track Release

Three tracks of the Warning Operations Course (Core, Severe, and Flash Flood) are available this year. The web-based content should be available starting on January 9th as part of the seasonal readiness initiative.

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Warning Decision Training Division

Office of Chief Learning Officer

Seasonal Readiness

 

Introduction

Seasonal Readiness is a concept analogous to spring training in baseball: train as you play. It is available for NWS Meteorologists with warning responsibilities. The idea is that WDTD releases lesson material in time for most local offices and/or individual forecasters to prepare training plans in advance of upcoming severe, flash flood, and winter seasons. Within this framework, local WFO SOOs and training facilitators have the flexibility to “peruse” the available lessons and create curricula tailored to their local needs and training gaps.

WDTD has several tools to support local offices, including brief online surveys about lesson content in order to determine which lessons may be worth assigning, as well as regular LMS reports for situational awareness. Currently, Seasonal Readiness is only supported for lessons traditionally available as part of the Warning Operations Course (WOC). Note that each WOC track (as listed below) is still available to take in its entirety to receive FY17 WOC certificates of completion. The following sections will outline the Seasonal Readiness training tools for each track, along with a section about how the NWS Virtual Lab (VLab) will aid in hosting many of the tools and references.

Release Date: January 9, 2017

* The FY17 Seasonal Readiness training tools for each of the WOC tracks will be released on this date (with the exception of Winter, which will come later in 2017). Keep in mind that individual offices have the flexibility to plan and execute their personalized training plans closer to the start of their climatological convective or rainy seasons. For example, offices in the Northern Plains can execute their severe weather Seasonal Readiness plans later in the Spring, ahead of the usually active summer months.

 

Seasonal Readiness Tools

Needs Assessment/Questionnaire (internal NWS)

For each track, we have created a Google Form needs assessment. These questionnaires are designed to be taken by individual forecasters to help identify areas that may need further training and development. Links to these online assessments will be sent to each of the SOOs in NWS WFOs. SOOs will be able to view the responses for each forecaster, and will be provided an Answer Key with which to compare. Questions were created based on available lesson material, meaning SOOs can choose to assign training based on whether they (or the forecaster) feel the question response meets their needs.

WOC Lessons Catalogue

For each track, we have created a catalogue of the available lessons from the latest WOC release in these downloadable PDFs, powered by Google Sheets. Each spreadsheet contains information about each of the available modules, the lesson’s learning objectives, length of the online module, and the last time the lesson module was updated. This aid is meant to provide transparency about what you can expect from each lesson. SOOs can use this to determine office-wide needs, or as a “conversation starter” with individuals. Overviews of each WOC track (Severe, Core, Flash Flood, and Winter) are detailed in the next section.

* Click on each image below to download the PDF version.

Screenshot of seasonal readiness training aid for WOC Severe
Catalogue for Severe
Screenshot of seasonal readiness training aid for WOC Core
Catalogue for Core
Screenshot of seasonal readiness training aid for WOC Flash FloodCatalogue for Flash Flooding

 

Coming soon for Winter Weather!

Regular LMS Reports (internal NWS)

WDTD will provide regular (e.g. monthly) LMS reports for offices who wish to participate in Seasonal Readiness. This allows training officers to keep track of forecaster completions. It is mainly a situational awareness tool.

Recorded Instructional Webinar

This webinar was provided to NWS SOOs, local and regional training facilitators, and other interests to provide an overview and guidance on the Seasonal Readiness plans, tools, and vision. Follow the link below to be directed to the Commerce Learning Center to view the video (must have a CLC account).

December 6, 2016 – Briefing Slides (PDF) | Recorded Webinar

 

Seasonal Readiness Tracks

Severe Weather (Course Webpage)

The start of the convective season varies across the country and so should the pre-season learning and training activities for each office and region. Seasonal Readiness gives local WFO SOOs and training facilitators a template for potential training plans for their staff but also the flexibility to determine their own plans. If an office already performs a local “pre-season” training regime through either a one-day workshop/seminar for the staff, a drill with questions about operational protocol, convective weather exercises through a local WES (Weather Event Simulator) case, or a combination of these, Seasonal Readiness is designed to supplement this effort. The training modules, exercises, and other training delivery through WOC Severe can be broken-down into more targeted needs for each office and operation.

Overview of Tornado Warning Guidance (TWG) section (with the WOC Severe Weather Track)

The weight of responsibility a forecaster feels when considering to issue a tornado warning should not be underestimated.  Yet this task should also not be so much to inhibit a forecaster from making the right call when the need arises.  WDTD provides a series of frequently updated training materials to help reinforce the forecaster's confidence that he/she is providing the best service possible backed by the latest guidance science can provide.  The available training parallels what forecasters need to consider in a tornado warning situation.  It starts with objectives related to basic processes of tornado formation. Then guidance is available on those important considerations that help forecasters gain the best combination of lead time and hit rate, including near storm environmental and precursor radar signatures.  Once a tornado has been observed and the impacts-based communications shifts, WDTD provides the needed training to help estimate the strength of an observed tornado.  Finally, WDTD provides guidance for providing tropical cyclone tornado warnings and statements.

NOTE: The content from this track is designed for NWS meteorologists that have completed either the Distance Learning Operations Course (DLOC) which ended in 2015 or the Radar and Applications Course (RAC) from 2016 or 2017. The lessons build on fundamental understandings of the WSR-88D Radar products (including MRMS) and mastery of certain convective-related processes in the lessons’ learning objectives. NWS meteorologists who wish to complete a “refresher” of these radar products, as they relate to severe convection, should consider taking the next offering of RAC in the Fall of 2017 and the Seasonal Readiness of the WOC Severe Weather track in 2018.

Core Warning Decision-Making (Course Webpage)

WOC Core Seasonal Readiness topics include understanding individual and team psychology to maximize warning operation and decision making performance. Lessons include warning specific applications of managing situation awareness, both individually and as a team, managing workload and cognitive resources. Methods for constructing an effective warning, eliciting the proper public response, and understanding the way NWS warnings will be used, and reacted to by the general public are also included. In the Summer, Instructor Led Training sessions are held teaching students how to conduct and evaluate Root Cause Analyses, which focus on fact finding investigations for improving processes and office operations, particularly in time-sensitive situations.

Flash Flooding (Course Webpage)

Supported lesson material covers conceptual models of flash flooding, interpreting anomalies, climatologies, average recurrence intervals (ARIs), using web-based tools, choosing what NWS products to use, and the flash flood decision making process.

Winter Weather (coming in late 2017)

 

Commonly Asked Questions

Q: I am concerned about the length of this course. One of the reasons I and my colleagues haven’t taken AWOC in several years is that it is just too long, too many elements that are tough to match up with my schedule of rotating shifts and priorities of inclement weather over training. Why would Seasonal Readiness change this opinion?

A: Seasonal Readiness is NOT a course; it is a method to take a smaller, more targeted subset of modules from each of the WOC tracks. Additionally, you determine your training along with your local training officer. Using the training aid, you determine what to take based on what is important to you and the enhancement of your skills and knowledge as a NWS Meteorologist with warning responsibilities.

WDTD has heard the overarching sentiment from WFOs about training and how coursework should be more targeted for the changing tasks and duties of the operational staff. Over the past few years, we have worked to shorten the length of our online modules and the WES (Weather Event Simulator) simulations to better fit into the current duty structure and schedule for the average NWS Meteorologist. Seasonal Readiness allows the forecaster and their training officer to target and enhance their meteorological knowledge for areas that they identify, either based upon the forecaster’s skillset and needs or a local/regionally-based curriculum (as opposed to a nationally-derived curriculum).

Q: As the office training facilitator, how do I know which modules I should assign to my operational staff?

A: The tools discussed in the above section are meant to help training officers and/or individual forecasters determine their needs. For instance, in the training aid, we provide the date the lesson was created or last updated. This information could help the SOO determine whether his/her staff is current on certain material. Another example: we provide the performance objectives for every simulation. So a forecaster may see that the latest WES-2 Bridge simulation focuses on how to use Average Recurrence Intervals (ARIs) within AWIPS-2. If he/she thinks that would be good for them to know, they can talk to the SOO to enroll in the simulation.

Q: If my staff are only taking a handful of the total amount of WOC modules, what assures that they are “seasonally ready” when the entire WOC course has not been completed in full?

A: The idea of Seasonal Readiness is that you determine what you need to be “seasonally ready”. WDTD delivers nationally-based training every year to keep up with the latest additions to the operational landscape of meteorology. However, training needs can vary significantly across the country, regions, CWAs, and even smaller geographic scales.

Using common sports analogies may help to drive home this point: in baseball, pitchers and catchers usually do not work on the same drills as infielders, nor do they (or should they) spend as much time practicing their swing in a batting cage as their other teammates who are expected to hit and drive the ball. Conversely, the team’s power hitter is not (and should not) spend much of their training time on a pitcher’s mound, working on an array of pitches. Identify what warning-related training best applies to you and your office to enhance your skills and abilities, but also do not neglect those “rare” (but not unheard of) events. For instance, the Southeastern U.S. can always get a snowstorm, and the Pacific Northwest can always get a mini-tornado outbreak along the coast. The key is to be prepared -- or our term, “seasonally ready”.

Q: How does Seasonal Readiness differ from the Warning Operations Course (WOC)? Aren’t they the same lessons and simulations?

A: Correct, they are the same material. However, Seasonal Readiness allows the flexibility to take a subset of the WOC lessons, in order to best fit your needs. And we have provided specific tools to facilitate this process. But for SOOs who want to enroll their forecasters in an entire WOC track, it is still supported by WDTD as usual. You will only receive a WOC Certificate of Completion for completing all requirements within the WDTD-determined curriculum. You will receive a Seasonal Readiness Certificate of Completion for completing all requirements determined by your training officer.

 

Seasonal Readiness Marketing

Motivational/Informational Posters

The concept of “being ready before the season starts” is a familiar one in many professions and facets of life. A “season” most notably refers to the sports world, where athletes prepare for a multi-month season of games or contests with targeted training and preparation to enhance their skills and “knock the rust off” after a lengthy off-season.

Four posters relating to this idea have been created and will be sent to all WFOs. Having them visible in or near the operations area will be a visual reminder to the operational staff about the importance of this concept in tasks and duties.

* Click on each image below to view the larger version.

Screenshot of archery themed motivation poster for seasonal readiness training Screenshot of rust bucket themed motivation poster for seasonal readiness training Screenshot of sportscar themed motivation poster for seasonal readiness training Screenshot of baseball themed motivation poster for seasonal readiness training

 

Contact Us

If you have any questions and comments about anything mentioned or not mentioned on this page and in any of the provided material, we have an e-mail addresss () for all things Seasonal Readiness. This is a new concept or paradigm for our delivered training, so we have no doubt there will be questions that are not covered above. As you give us feedback, we can add it to this page and potentially help others that may have similar sentiments.