Many of you have stopped over at the CSR Dallas office or through the DFW airport at some time on flights through the U.S., but have any of you wondered what is going on behind the scenes when severe weather strikes and your plane is grounded? Most often it is simply for lightning or downburst winds, but since Dallas is in what is known as “Tornado Alley”, we frequently see conditions ripe for tornadoes and very large hail, some the size of softballs. Many of you may have heard of the huge tornado outbreaks in the United States this April and May, causing 546 fatalities. Without the warning systems in place, the number would have likely been much higher.
CSR Dallas has teamed with the Skywarn Storm Spotter Team at the National Weather Service forecast office in Ft Worth (US Department of Commerce) as our choice to give back to the community for our Social Responsibility program for 2011. The NWS is the command centre for these warning systems in the U.S. The NWS relies on trained off-duty workers and volunteers to observe severe weather, where even the best radar cannot provide a picture of a forming tornado.
The Dallas team has held meetings with the Skywarn Team and the NWS to determine how to solve a problem with communications in their command centre, which communicates directly with the storm spotters “on the ground”, and has designed a system which will reduce reporting time of forming tornadoes and the like, directly to the NWS meteorologists, who can in turn, notify the general public via radio, TV, and other public warning systems.
The engineering team in Dallas has chosen the BC5MM chip and CSR software, to develop multi-channel audio communications links between the radio operators who are taking these reports, and the radio communication system they are using. “Un-tethering the operators can significantly reduce the time needed to issue a severe weather warning to the public when seconds count”, said Bill Bunting, Chief Meteorologist with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Fort Worth. This office is responsible for all weather forecasting for an area comprising of 46 counties in Texas with a population of 7.4 million people. “We sincerely appreciate CSR’s interest in supporting this effort we deem as very important to the community”, said Bill.
Photos are of Brian French, Liem Ly, and Matt Grogan, discussing the architecture with the NWS staff.