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RGV Partners Hurricane Workshop 2014 Logo
Collage of Emergency Management and Media 2014 Partners Hurricane Workshop photos
Collage of photos from Rio Grande Valley 2014 Partners Hurricane Workshops. Clockwise, from top: Meteorologist–in–Charge (MIC) of NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Steve Drillette giving interview to Samara Cokinos of KRGV Channel 5 News; A panorama of the packed room for the Core Emergency Managers/Related Officials Workshop (May 28); local media listening to information at the Media Workshop on May 29; Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith desribing the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation; Dr. William Donner of the University of Texas–Pan American discussing the Disaster Studies Program; NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Tropical Program Leader Justin Gibbs describing the experimental storm surge inundation maps. Middle photo: MIC of NWS San Angelo Dr. Steve Lyons explaining the "five toes" of a hurricane footprint.

Record Crowds Come to Learn The Latest on NWS Hurricane Forecast Information
Emergency Officials, Media, and More Leave With Full Minds...and Stomachs!

A combined crowd of more than 130 core partners of the National Weather Service Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Office spent parts of two days learning about the latest in tropical cyclone information, provided by staff of NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley, a guest presenter from the University of Texas–Pan American (UTPA), and a special keynote speaker, Dr. Steve Lyons, Meteorologist–in–Charge of the NWS San Angelo, Texas, office and former National Hurricane Center Specialist and Weather Channel Hurricane Expert. The agenda, including links to each presentation (PDF), is available here. The goal of each workshop was to continue to build trusted relationships between the NWS and all core partner groups in order for the entire community to speak with one voice should a tropical cyclone threaten the RGV in 2014.

May 28th: Emergency Management Core Partners
On Wednesday, May 28th, more than 100 partners filled up the Knapp Medical Conference Center in Weslaco to listen and learn about hurricane information from NWS and beyond. A light breakfast featuring snacks, fruit, coffee, and juice was followed by the first session, which concentrated on the technical side of hurricanes, beginning with a review of the 2013 Atlantic Season that "Failed to Launch", and a discussion of the 2014 Atlantic and Pacific seasonal forecast and what they might mean (or not mean) for the Rio Grande Valley (RGV), each by Warning Coordination Meteorologist (WCM) Barry Goldsmith. The session concluded with a review of National Hurricane Center and Weather Forecast Office hurricane products and services by Tropical Program Leader Justin Gibbs, which included a focus on the new, experimental Spanish Language Hurricane Local Statement and eventual impact graphic component.

After a short break, the focus shifted to the social side of hurricanes. Dr. William Donner of UTPA gave an overview of the new Disaster Studies Program, with a focus on research aimed at personal decision making prior to Hurricane Katrina and others, and how such decisions might apply to highly vulnerable populations that are often among the poorest in the Rio Grande Valley. Science and Operations Officer Doug Butts described the increasing use of social media to reach more people directly than ever before, and highlighted the strong need for partners to join NWSChat with a short video user guide. WCM Goldsmith reprised a brief review of "More to the Story than the Category" as a lead–in for Keynote Speaker Dr. Steve Lyons, who completed the day’s activities with two presentations: The first on a new way of communicating hurricane impacts beyond the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale. Lyons’ method, "The Five Toes of a Hurricane Footprint", considers wind, rainfall flooding, seawater rise, waves, and tornadoes as individual toes, with the size of the toe dependent on the unique’personality’ of each cyclone. As lunch (sandwiches and chips) was served, Dr. Lyons concluded with a discussion on how to reduce impacts from each of the five toes by strengthening and protecting buildings and other infrastructure, and considering not building in areas prone to rainfall flooding, sea water rise, or waves.

Core partner representation spanned the range of nearly all Emergency Support Functions (ESF’s). A sampling of the governmental agencies in attendance included the following:

  • RGV County and City Emergency Management Officials
  • Texas Department of Transportation, Pharr District
  • RGV Independent and Consolidated Independent School District Emergency Support
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Harlingen Office
  • Texas State Department of Health Services, RGV Sector
  • International Boundary and Water Commission (U.S. State Department)
  • 2–1–1 Texas
  • Lower RGV Development Council (COG)
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection, RGV Sector
  • U.S. Consulate General, Matamoros, Tamaulipas Mexico
  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration
  • American Red Cross and U.S. Salvation Army
  • Cameron and Hidalgo County Health/Human Services Departments
  • Texas Animal Health Commission

May 29th: Media Core Partners
A smaller but enthusiastic crowd of RGV media representatives, from television, radio, print, and web, gathered at KRGV Channel 5 News Studios in Weslaco to listen and learn about NWS hurricane information, and hopefully leave with a better understanding of the move toward impact–based services that will help the general population understand each threat and impact in order to be confident in decisions to prepare and protect life and property, whether they speak English or Spanish. The sessions, which were scheduled from late morning through mid afternoon to reach both the morning and evening broadcast community, were nearly identical to those at the Emergency Management Core Partners Workshop on the 28th. The key exception was a very well–received talk by Spanish Language Outreach Coordinator Maria Torres, who focused on the new NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Spanish Language experimental products and the coming launch of the NOAA Weather Radio Spanish language transmitters, aimed at covering nearly all communities where English is spoken poorly or not at all. This session was the highlight for most of the broadcasters, who applauded NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley’s effort to serve critical hurricane threat and impact information "En Español" directly, without the need for a third party translator.

The following media entities were in attendance:

  • KRGV Channel 5 News, Morning, Noon, and Evening Weather Team
  • Entravision, FOX–2 News/KNVO–48 Noticias Morning and Evening Weather Team
  • KGBT Channel 4 News, Morning and Evening Weather Team
  • Televisa Noreste (Mexico), XERV–7 and XHAB–9 Weather Team
  • City of McAllen Cable Network
  • City of Brownsville Television
  • La Feria News, Valley Town Crier/Edinburg Review, McAllen Monitor


Thank Yous and Kudos
The smashing success of the Partners Hurricane Workshops, which have grown from a half filled room of barely a dozen representatives in 2009 to the scores of diverse partners we saw in 2014, was a true team effort! NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley could not have put on such a winning show without the following logistical partners:

  • Knapp Medical Center of Weslaco, specifically Ms. Jacqueline Mungia, who worked with us to ensure the large conference room was more than ready
  • John Kittleman, General Manager of KRGV Channel 5 in Weslaco, for his kind donation of facilities for the Media Workshop and for providing breakfast and lunch for the nearly 30 folks in attendance
  • KRGV Channel 5 Chief Meteorologist Tim Smith for the same reason as Mr. Kittleman, above
  • H–E–B Stores, for their generosity which allowed NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley to provide breakfast and lunch to the Emergency Management Core Partners Meeting
  • Walmart of Weslaco, who provided the fantastic luncheon for the Media Partners Workshop
  • Rachel Gil, Paul Schaafsma, and Patrick, our summer volunteer, for their tireless effort in setting up food and boxes of hurricane guides for the Emergency Management Core Partners Meeting
Photo of Tim Smith, Chief Meteorologist at KRGV Channel 5 News, John Kittleman, General Manager at KRGV Channel 5 News, and Dr. Steve Lyons, NWS San Angelo, TX, after RGV Media Hurrican Partners Workshop
Left to Right: Chief Meteorologist Tim Smith of KRGV Channel 5 News, John Kittleman, General Manager of KRGV Channel 5 News, and Dr. Steve Lyons, NWS San Angelo, after 2014 RGV Media Partners Hurricane Workshop.
Samara Cokinos, KRGV Channel 5 Weather/News, interviews Justin Gibbs of NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley
Samara Cokinos (right), KRGV Channel 5 Weather/News, interviews Justin Gibbs on the New Spanish Language Hurricane Local Statement.
Photo of NWS Brownsville/RGV crew, Dr. Steve Lyons, and Samara Cokinos after 2014 RGV Media Partners Hurricane Workshop May 29, 2014
From left: Dr. Steve Lyons (NWS San Angelo, TX), Doug Butts (NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley), Samara Cokinos (Meteorologist, KRGV Channel 5 News), Barry Goldsmith, Maria Torres, Steve Drillette, and Justin Gibbs (NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley).