National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce
Date Posted: February 2, 2012

It has been almost six months since NOAA's National Weather Service launched its Weather-Ready Nation initiative and already we’re seeing the seeds we’ve sewn begin to take root. In fact, Weather-Ready nation has “caught fire,” to borrow a phrase from a South African colleague during the 92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

During a Weather-Ready Nation Town Hall at the annual meeting, NWS Director Dr. Jack Hayes, NOAA Deputy Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, AMS President Berrien Moore and Dr. Susan Laska, professor emerita of sociology and founding past director of the Center for Hazards Assessment, Response and Technology at the University of New Orleans, announced several key actions identified during the Vital Conversation event in Norman. 

  1. A stronger integration of social and physical sciences is needed end-to-end in the extreme weather forecast and warning process – from research to operations.
  2. A review of warning false alarms is needed to determine if there are strategies that can be used to reduce false alarms without decreasing threat detection and warning lead time.  
  3. Assess and update warning dissemination strategy.  New wireless technologies afford a great opportunity to improve the speed and effectiveness of severe weather warning.
  4. Advance physical modeling of severe weather to provide accuracy and precision necessary to facilitate tornado warnings based on forecast model output (Warn on Forecast) as is done with hurricanes, winter storms, and other extreme weather that is more slowly evolving. 
  5. Improve outreach and education to supported agencies and groups:  FEMA, emergency managers, threatened communities. 
  6. Evolve the NWS Service Assessment following major severe weather outbreaks into one more like the NTSB assessments following major transportation disasters. 

“The weather enterprise is planning to put these into use as soon as possible,” Hayes said. “We have to go the last mile to protect lives and livelihoods.”

NOAA Administrator Dr. Jane Lubchenco and Sullivan provided keynotes addressing “Science for a Weather-Ready Nation” and “Technology for a Weather-Ready Nation.” 

In many cases, the building blocks of the Weather-Ready Nation concept were developed through similar discussions and dialogues that took place at past AMS Annual Meetings, where members from across the Weather and Climate Enterprise have gathered for years to share research results, best practices, ideas and goals. It is through these kinds of collaborations that ideas develop into plans and plans turn into actions.

With the recent rollout of our Weather-Ready Nation Emergency Response pilot project at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in Slidell, La., we moved one step closer to realizing our vision. Another big step took place last week with the announcement by our partner Google that they will issue public alerts on Google Maps.