NWS vet will get systems up to speed

Computer issues will demand a lot of attention from the new director of
central operations at the National Weather Service.


“We are in the first phase of installing our new supercomputer and ensuring that
every part of the installation is year 2000-ready,” Carl Staton said.
“We’re also busy migrating weather models from the Cray C90 to the new IBM
supercomputer.”


Staton recently took the post at NWS after working in the Office of Satellite Data
Processing and Distribution at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s
National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. The NESDIS office
processes, distributes and archives satellite data.


“Carl will be a tremendous asset to our organization,” NWS director Jack
Kelly said. “He has excellent skills in managing computational systems and in
networking them together. He will bring strong leadership to an already highly skilled
team.”


The Central Operations Office works out of the Camp Springs, Md., NWS facility. The
office oversees the agency’s sophisticated computer systems, which run numerical
weather prediction models and are the source of data for government’s real-time
weather forecasts and trend research.


Staton will manage the daily operations of the office including the installation of an
IBM RS/6000 SP supercomputer. The supercomputer will improve weather, flood and climate
forecasts, Staton said.


NWS in October awarded a four-year contract worth almost $36 million to IBM Corp. to
lease the RS/6000 SP, which will replace a Silicon Graphics Inc. Cray C90. The company
will install the supercomputer at the Suitland Federal Center in Suitland, Md.


The Phase 1 system, which NWS expects online by February, will have 768 processors and
be capable of housing 100 terabytes of data on magnetic tape in a robotic archive
laboratory, Staton said.


IBM will install the Phase 2 supercomputer by September 2000 after removing the Phase 1
system. The supercomputer will come with 2,048 processors and twice the storage capacity,
Staton said.


Besides the computer work, Staton said his first month on the job has also involved
money issues.


“I’ve been dealing a lot with budget issues,” Staton said. “Like
any other federal government agency, we have to do more with less, so you have to
prioritize.”


As for his vision for NWS Central Operations, Staton wants to carry on with his
predecessor’s efforts. He replaced George Murphy, who retired in April 1997. In the
interim, deputy director Wayman Baker acted as director.


“I want to keep the National Centers for Environmental Prediction at the forefront
of weather prediction,” Staton said.


Staton began working at NESDIS in 1979 as a computer specialist. Before that, he did
programming and systems engineering for General Electric Co. and the Singer-Link Co. of
Silver Spring, Md.


Staton earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science from North Carolina State
University. He also has graduated from the General Service Administration’s Trail
Boss Program.  

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