Time Line of SELS and SPC

by Roger Edwards and Fred Ostby

A historical outline of the SELS (SEvere Local Storms unit, National Severe Storms Forecast Center) and the Storm Prediction Center



1948    MARCH 25: 1ST TORNADO FORECAST (FAWBUSH AND MILLER) AT TINKER AFB


1951    FAWBUSH AND MILLER ESTABLISHED SEVERE STORMS FORECAST CENTER
        (TINKER) FOR AIR FORCE FACILITIES IN 48 STATES
1952    MARCH: WBAN ANALYSIS CENTER SEVERE STORMS FORECAST UNIT
1952    MARCH 17: FIRST WATCH (THEN CALLED "FORECAST")
1952    MARCH 21: FIRST SUCCESSFUL WATCH (FORECAST)
1953    RENAMED "SELS" (SEVERE LOCAL STORMS) UNIT -- AROUND THE CLOCK 
        COVERAGE
1954    7 FORECASTERS, 6 CHARTISTS, 2 RESEARCH FORECASTERS
1954    AUGUST: SELS TRANSFERRED TO KANSAS CITY (911 WALNUT)
1955    FIRST CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
1955    NATIONAL SEVERE STORMS PROJECT (NSSP) ESTABLISHED
1956    SELS WORKSHOP FIRST HELD
1956    AIR FORCE UNIT MOVES TO KANSAS CITY, COLLOCATED WITH SELS AND
        MKC WEATHER BUREAU OFFICE BUT WITH INDEPENDENT FORECASTS
1956    RADU (RADAR ANALYSIS AND DEVELOPMENT UNIT) ESTABLISHED
1957    2 TYPES OF FORECASTS: AVIATION AND PUBLIC


1960    DON HOUSE NAMED MIC (METEOROLOGIST IN CHARGE) OF THE WBO
        (WEATHER BUREAU OFFICE)
1960    RADU BEGAN TRANSMITTING 3-HOURLY RADAR SUMMARY CHARTS ON FAX
1961    CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK TRANSMITTED BY FAX
1963    SELS ISSUES FORECAST PORTION OF SD-1
1963    IBM 1620 COMPUTER INSTALLATION
1964    NSSP RENAMED NSSL (NATIONAL SEVERE STORMS LAB), MOVED TO NORMAN OK
1965    ALLEN PEARSON NAMED MIC
1965    IBM 1620 COMPUTER REPLACED BY CDC 3100
1966    RENAMED NSSFC AND MOVED TO 601 E. 12TH STREET, KANSAS CITY MO
1968    STATUS REPORTS FOR WATCHES


1970    SATELLITE METEOROLOGIST ASSIGNED TO NSSFC
1970    OFFICE OF THE FEDERAL COORDINATOR FOR METEOROLOGY (OFCM) ORDERS
        AIR FORCE UNIT DISBANDED BECAUSE OF DUPLICATION WITH SELS; 
        AIR FORCE UNIT MOVES TO OFFUTT AFB INSTEAD
1970    15Z DAY-1 OUTLOOK
1971    KCRT -- FIRST COMPUTERIZED DATA TRANSMISSION -- TESTED AND INSTALLED
1972    NPSU (NATIONAL PUBLIC SERVICE UNIT) ESTABLISHED
1972    SFSS (SATELLITE FIELD SERVICES STATION) ESTABLISHED AT MKC
1973    AVIATION AND PUBLIC WATCHES COMBINED
1973    RWCC (REGIONAL WEATHER COORDINATION CENTER) ESTABLISHED 
1975    RWCC CEASED OPERATIONS
1976    TDU (TECHNIQUES DEVELOPMENT UNIT) ESTABLISHED
1978    RADU CEASED OPERATIONS
1978    CONVECTIVE SIGMET UNIT ESTABLISHED
1978    AFOS (AUTOMATION OF FIELD OPERATIONS AND SERVICES) INSTALLED
1979    ALLEN PEARSON APPOINTED DIRECTOR, NWS CENTRAL REGION


1980    FRED OSTBY NAMED DIRECTOR
1982    APRIL 2:  FIRST PDS (PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION) WATCH 
1982    NAWAU (NATIONAL AVIATION WEATHER ADVISORY UNIT) ESTABLISHED
1982    CSIS (CENTRALIZED STORM INFORMATION SYSTEM) -- FIRST OPERATIONAL 
        McIDAS WORKSTATION -- INSTALLED
1983    NSSFC TRANSFERRED ORGANIZATIONALLY TO NMC (NATIONAL
        METEOROLOGICAL CENTER, NOW NCEP)
1983    SFSS (SATELLITE FIELD SERVICES STATION) BECOMES PART OF NSSFC
1986    FIRST DAY-2 OUTLOOK 
1986    FIRST MESOSCALE DISCUSSION
1988    CONVERTED SFSS POSITIONS TO MESOSCALE METEOROLOGISTS 
1988    LIGHTNING DATA AVAILABLE ON TEST BASIS


1991    VDUC (VAS DATA UTILIZATION CENTER) -- AN ENHANCED McIDAS 
        WORKSTATION -- INSTALLED TO REPLACE CSIS
1994    NPSU CEASED OPERATIONS
1994    INITIAL PARTICIPATION IN "VORTEX" PROJECT
1994    FIRST NSSFC INTERNET ACCESS
1995    FIRST 2Z (EVENING) DAY-1 OUTLOOK, LATER MOVED TO 1Z
1995    NSSFC WORLD WIDE WEB PAGES ESTABLISHED, BECOME AWC & SPC HOME PAGES
1995    SELS BECOMES SPC, NAWAU BECOMES AWC (AVIATION WEATHER CENTER)
1995    JOE SCHAEFER NAMED SPC DIRECTOR
1996    1-YEAR HAZARDOUS WEATHER UPDATE TEST BEGUN
1996    N-AWIPS (NATIONAL CENTER AWIPS) IN SPC-NORMAN
1997    SPC COMPLETES MOVE TO NORMAN OK (FIRST FLOOR, NSSL BUILDING)
1997    WINTER WEATHER PROGRAM WITH MESOSCALE ASSISTANT FORECASTERS
1998    NATIONAL FIRE WEATHER FORECAST BEGUN 
1998    OCT 4: MOORE OK NIGHT TORNADO (F2) VISIBLE FROM FACILITY
1999    AWIPS WORKSTATIONS INSTALLED
1999    EXPERIMENTAL PROBABILISTIC OUTLOOKS
1999    MAY 3: MOORE OK TORNADO (F5) VISIBLE FROM FACILITY

2000    EXPERIMENTAL DAY-3 CONVECTIVE OUTLOOK
2001    PROBABILISTIC DAY-1 THRU DAY-3 OUTLOOKS OPERATIONAL 
2002    PARTICIPATION IN "IHOP" PROJECT
2003    PARTICIPATION IN "BAMEX" PROJECT
2003    ENHANCED GENERAL THUNDER FORECAST EXPERIMENT
2003    FORECAST PRODUCTION MOVED FROM PC-OS/2 TO LINUX, WEB-BASED
2005    EXPERIMENTAL DAY 4-8 SEVERE OUTLOOK
2005    PUBLIC OUTLOOKS FOR SOME MDT RISKS
2006    EXPERIMENTAL DAY 4-8 FIRE OUTLOOK
2006	OPERATIONAL SEVERE PROBABILTIES FOR WATCHES
2006	SHORT-RANGE ENSEMBLE FORECAST (SREF) OUTPUT ONLINE
2006    EXPERIMENTAL 2-PERIOD THUNDER PROBABILITIES
2006    SPC MOVES TO NATIONAL WEATHER CENTER FACILITY IN NORMAN
2007	DAY 4-8 SEVERE OUTLOOK OPERATIONAL
2007	DAY 3-8 FIRE OUTLOOK OPERATIONAL
2009	GRIDDED OUTLOOKS FOR NDFD
2009	JUN 12: EAST NORMAN NIGHT TORNADO (EF1) VISIBLE FROM FACILITY
2009	JOE SCHAEFER RETIRES AS DIRECTOR

2010	MAY 10: NORMAN-LITTLE AXE (EVENTUAL EF4) TORNADO VISIBLE FROM FACILITY
2010	RUSSELL SCHNEIDER NAMED SPC DIRECTOR
2011	MAY 24: SMALL DEBRIS FROM GOLDSBY TORNADO (EF4) FALLS OVER FACILITY

Acknowledgments: Thanks to Steve Corfidi, Steve Weiss and Allen Pearson for their insights and clarifications on items in this timeline.


A Brief History of the Storm Prediction Center

Historical SELS and SPC Images

Commemorate the golden anniversary of tornado forecasting