A high-speed technologically-advanced processing, display, and telecommunication network called the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) is the centerpiece of National Weather Service operations. AWIPS is an interactive computer system that integrates all meteorological, hydrological, satellite, and radar data into one computer workstation. AWIPS allows forecasters the interactive capability to view, analyze, combine, and manipulate large amounts of graphical and alphanumeric weather data. Thus, AWIPS provides a very efficient and effective means for forecasters to prepare and issue timely, accurate forecasts and warnings. AWIPS is installed in all 119 Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), 13 regional River Forecast Centers (RFCs), and several national weather centers. AWIPS has existed at NWS Louisville since July 1998.
AWIPS ingests and processes the following primary data sets:
The AWIPS system architectural design is driven by expandability, flexibility, availability, and portability. The system is easily expandable to allow for the introduction of new functionality and the augmentation of network and processing capabilities. AWIPS is designed so that software and data can be migrated to new platforms as technology evolves. In fact, AWIPS is a dynamic system that frequently is updated with new software and hardware capabilities to keep it a state-of-the-art system for NWS forecasters. The system architecture consists of the Network Control Facility (NCF), Satellite Broadcast System (SBN), wide area network (WAN), Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), River Forecast Centers (RFCs), National Centers, and the NOAAPORT Receive System (NRS). The SBN is a key component of the AWIPS communication network that feeds data from the NCF to each AWIPS site (WFOs and RFCs), distributes information among the AWIPS sites, and provides for dissemination of information to the public and other outside users. It is a one-way, point-to-multipoint satellite broadcast system that distributes very large amounts of data collected/produced at NOAA's national centers to AWIPS field sites. The SBN consists of a master ground antenna for transmitting data, a satellite, and a downlink antenna at each AWIPS site.
The AWIPS communication network also consists of a wide area network (WAN), i.e., a high speed data network of terrestrial communications lines. This network allows two-way, point-to-point communications among AWIPS sites for the exchange of requisite data/products which are locally collected/produced.
Key hardware components of AWIPS at each field AWIPS site includes the downlink antenna that receives transmitted data; several communication, application, and data processors and servers to ingest, translate, create, manipulate, and store data; the Local Data Acquisition and Dissemination System (LDADS); and several forecaster workstations, each consisting of 1 alphanumeric and 2 graphical monitors.