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John Ira Petty
Johnson Space Center, Houston

Houston-Area Weather Forecasts to Originate at JSC
Weather forecasts for Southeast Texas and offshore waters will originate from Johnson Space Center’s Spaceflight Meteorology Group facilities for eight days, beginning April 8.

Forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Houston/Galveston National Weather Service Forecast Office will work at the space center around the clock, in three two-person shifts.

Their regular facilities in League City are being moved to a new location in the new Emergency Management Center for Galveston County. Because of the move, they will not be able to use either old or new facilities for those eight days.

At JSC, they’ll be among colleagues. The Spaceflight Meteorology Group at JSC, which provides forecasts for human spaceflight, is made up of nine NWS meteorologists and one contractor meteorologist. They are led by Meteorologist-in-Charge Frank Brody.

"It's a great day when we at Johnson Space Center can help forecasters who contribute so much to the safety, well-being and happiness of the people of our area," said Jefferson D. Howell Jr., JSC director. "We look forward to having these very able men and women among us."

Brody said his group is happy to help a sister office. Besides, he noted, the move is saving the government considerable money. Were the JSC facilities not available, Houston/Galveston office forecasters would have had to move temporarily to Lake Charles, La. The move is the product of about nine months’ planning. "We first confirmed that it would not be a distraction to our operation," Brody said.

Gene Hafele, a warning and coordination meteorologist at the Houston/Galveston office, is no stranger to JSC. He worked in the Spaceflight Meteorology Group for almost 10 years, beginning in 1984. He said much of the savings to the government would be in not having to relocate people to Lake Charles. "It will make the transition a lot less painful for our employees."

While at JSC, the Houston/Galveston office forecasters will use familiar NWS computers that are part of SMG forecasters' equipment at JSC normally used during Space Shuttle operations. The Houston/Galveston office prepares weather forecasts, advisories and warnings for an area comprising 23 counties of Southeast Texas. They also are responsible for marine forecasts for adjacent coastal waters out to about 60 nautical miles.

The Spaceflight Meteorology Group has provided forecasts for human spaceflight since the Mercury program. It is part of the Mission Control team, responsible for forecasts contributing to decisions relating to orbital flight and Shuttle landings, including launch abort and planned End of Mission landings, at sites in the U.S. and around the world.

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