National Weather Service Speeds Severe Weather Forecasting With IBM eServer Systems

Linux-Based Technology From IBM Improves National Weather Service Transmission of Data to Local Broadcast Outlets

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ARMONK, NY - 09 Dec 2003: IBM today announced that the National Weather Service is using powerful IBM eServer systems to improve the forecasting of extreme weather conditions such as flash floods, tornadoes and hurricanes. The new technology includes IBM eServer IntelliStation and IBM eServer xSeries systems and is expected to significantly increase the National Weather Service's ability to rapidly deliver real-time data to meteorologists and hydrologists around the United States.

As a significant part of the National Weather Service's Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), the IBM technology is helping NWS improve data delivery, which means that broadcast outlets such as local television and radio stations, are now able to deliver warnings to specific locations. This speeds alert times in a situation where a few minutes is often the difference between life and death.

"Technological improvements never stop and neither does the National Weather Service. At the start of my tenure as the Director of the National Weather Service I made a promise to continue to make advancements in technology to support the NWS mission to protect lives and property," said Jack Kelly, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere. "These new AWIPS workstations will give our meteorologists and hydrologists 400 percent faster processing speed in delivering watches and warnings during severe weather, when seconds save lives."

"The National Weather Service's deployment of IBM systems validates our investment in technologies such as Linux, and is another example of how IBM technology is helping people everyday," said Bob Lenard, director, IBM eServer IntelliStation. "Whether it's a pSeries supercomputer being used for cancer research, an xSeries cluster used to map the human genome or an IntelliStation workstation used for severe weather warnings, IBM technologies are making a positive impact on society around the globe."

Since moving to the Linux/IBM-based infrastructure, the NWS has experienced a 400 percent increase in application performance, from refresh rates of 247 seconds down to 62 seconds, meaning that end users of the system are receiving updated data markedly faster. Additionally, this workstation replacement project has resulted in a 40-percent hardware maintenance cost savings. In a time of budget restraint, the cost savings realized have had a profound impact on the NWS.

Technology Matters
Powering the improved forecasting capabilities is a technology infrastructure based on more than 900 Linux-powered IBM IntelliStation M Pro™ and Z Pro™ workstations, which have replaced proprietary HP-UX systems. Workstations are powerful desktop computers used for running graphic intensive applications. In addition to the IBM IntelliStation workstations, as part of the National Weather Service's Linux migration plan, 160 IBM xSeries servers have been deployed.

The IBM IntelliStation workstations are located in 137 locations nationwide and are accessed by meteorologists and hydrologists. The workstations pull data from an infrastructure of Intel-based Linux servers, which receive data from the NOAAPort satellite broadcast network.