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Americas and Caribbean Focus Group - Background

The idea for the satellite weather briefings, was born at the (WMO) Satellite Training Workshop held in Barbados in December 2003. At that time, a WMO Virtual Laboratory Focus Group was formed with support from NOAA, CIRA, CIMSS, the Virtual Institute for Satellite Integration Training (VISIT), and the CoE in Costa Rica and Barbados. During the first year, the focus group was composed of participants and workshop instructors; the sessions were conducted in English and occurred on a monthly basis.

After the WMO Workshop held in Costa Rica in March 2005 the focus group expanded tremendously and evolved to include monthly bi-lingual and Spanish only sessions. It is pertinent to note that besides the overwhelming interest from participants in the focus group generated at the March 2005 workshop, the group leadership expanded to include the NOAA’s National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) International Desk at the Weather Prediction Center (WPC). They brought with them an extensive history of positive interaction with countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean and hence a strong following of participants. New RMTCoE in Brazil and Argentina were recognized by WMO in 2006. They have become strong supporters of the focus group as well.

Mike Davison from NOAA/NCEP/WPC International Desk is the primary lead for the sessions. He likes to use the VISITview tool for the weather briefings to view and draw on the imagery. VISITview was developed for the United States (US) National Weather Service (NWS) under the well established VISIT program. VISITview is a teletraining and real-time collaboration tool which provides a slideshow format that allows image animations, zooming, and chalkboard capabilities, and connects one or more instructors to many students via the internet.

GoToWebinar provides both voice and viewing. Participants register to join a session. The sessions are recorded and made available. If you want to watch the VISITview separately, click on "Images for Monthly Session" in the menu on the left to find out how to do that.

We have had participants join in from many countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Cayman, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Martinique, Mexico, Netherland Antilles, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, and Venezuela.