National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

The National Weather Service in Charleston, WV welcomed neighboring National Weather Service offices and partners from across the Tri-State region of northeast Kentucky, southeast Ohio, and western West Virginia to the Tri-State Integrated Warning Team meeting on October 16, 2018, at the King's Daughters Medical Center Health Education Center in Ashland, KY.  The overall goal of the meeting was to improve communication between the various agencies attending the meeting, especially with regards to messaging river flooding. 

The meeting kicked off with a round-table discussion featuring a diverse group of panelists, including Eddie Jenkins, ARES Emergency Coordinator for Lawrence County, OH, Brandon Butcher, Meteorologist with WSAZ-TV, John Hunt, Kentucky Department of Public Health Regional Preparedness Coordinator/Prestonsburg, KY Emergency Manager, Ben Gilmore, US Coast Guard, and Darren Price, Ohio Emergency Management Agency.  The panel discussed their weather information needs, weather challenges they face in their organizations and how to improve weather communication in the region.

Following the panel discussion, Ryan Fliehman, a hydrologist with the Ohio River Forecast Center, gave an informative presentation on the differences between river forecasts and outlooks.  While outlook information such as the Meteorological Model Ensemble River Forecasts provide valuable information for emergency management officials as they plan for potential river flood events, they can be misinterpreted and misused, especially with the general public.  Ryan's presentation did an excellent job of explaining the limitations and proper usage of the products and how they differ from actual forecasts.

Ryan Fliehman from the Ohio River Forecast Center presents on the differences between river forecasts and outlooks.


Following lunch, all of the attendees participated in a tabletop exercise.  The exercise simulated the lead up to a widespread severe thunderstorm and flash flood event, which was predicted to occur at the same time that the county fair and a large outdoor concert were scheduled.  During the tabletop, NWS meteorologists simulated the information flow which our agency would provide from five days out up to the time of the event and the attendees discussed what their actions would be to prepare for and communicate the threat.  The exercise proved to be a great way to learn each other's capabilities and responsibilities should such an event occur.  It was also documented according to Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program standards, enabling participants to use the exercise to satisfy their agency's exercise requirements.

NWS Meteorologists give a presentation on potential impacts with the upcoming severe weather outbreak during the afternoon tabletop exercise. Exercise attendees discuss their response to the information provided in the NWS weather briefing.


Feedback from the meeting was positive.  One attendee noted, "I learned a lot, made some new contacts and would like to attend future events."  Another noted, "I learned valuable information, including new ideas and technologies."

The Tri-State Integrated Warning Team workshop complimented previous workshops held in Charleston, Lewisburg and Clarksburg, WV.

We want to sincerely thank Ashland-Boyd County Emergency Management for their assistance in planning the meeting and for increasing the attendance at the meeting.  We also sincerely thank King's Daughters Medical Center for hosting the event and the members of the exercise planning team for their assistance in developing the tabletop exercise.



What is the Integrated Warning Team?

Believe it or not, you are already part of an informal integrated warning team (IWT). Anyone who works to protect people’s lives during weather events can count themselves as part of the Integrated Warning Team.

An IWT is a group of individuals committed to notifying the public about potentially hazardous weather and providing resources to them once hazardous weather occurs. These individuals come from many professions: federal, state and local emergency managers, broadcast and print media, public service officials (USGS, DOT/DOH, school system officials), private organizations (utility companies, health services) and National Weather Service staff typically compose much of the IWT. However, any other public or private sector individuals responsible for the management of their organization or jurisdiction's public safety, can also be part of an IWT. Social scientists can also play a major role in helping the team to identify successes and shortfalls in the communication of weather information to the general public.

What do we hope to accomplish with this Integrated Warning Team workshop?

Gathering all the parts of the IWT together allows everyone involved to:

  • exchange contact information
  • discuss past high impact weather events and the warning process (what went right/wrong for each organization)
  • foster improved collaboration and communication between each organization so during crisis situations the team already knows each other and what the different organizations main goals and requirements are
  • discover common communication issues
  • voice problems/concerns so other stakeholders can understand the complexities and limitations of your decisions during high impact weather events
  • introduce diversity and productive conflict to help stakeholders become more robust and better suited to serve the public’s needs
  • develop a customer specific impacts catalog (Discuss thresholds for decisions)
  • discuss ways to more fully integrate, capture and distribute data before, during and after events happen

The goal is to produce a more cohesive and mutually beneficial relationship within the IWT that allows for a faster and more collaborative response to high-impact weather events. Public safety is the primary driver, not individual organization's goals.

What makes a good Integrated Warning Team workshop?

  • Diverse group of stakeholders present
  • Everyone needs to participate
  • The workshop is a judgement free zone
  • Questions are encouraged
  • Make introductions to those you don’t know
  • Learn, teach, HAVE FUN


9:00 AM Welcome/What is an IWT?

  • Opening remarks and an interactive presentation explaining what an IWT is and what we would like to accomplish with the workshop.


9:30 AM Round Table Discussion

  • A group of partners will participate in a facilitated discussion on their weather needs, past weather events, lessons learned and challenges they face with the warning process.


10:30 AM Exploring River Forecasts vs Outlooks

  • River flood outlooks are often misused and misunderstood but offer valuable information decision makers can use when trying to plan for a potential flood event. A representative from the Ohio River Forecast Center will discuss the differences between official river forecasts and the model derived outlooks and facilitate a brief exercise with the goal of enabling participants to better understand the products and properly use them in their decision making.


11:30 PM Lunch


12:30 PM Tabletop Exercise

  • This Homeland Security and Evaluation Program (HSEEP) compliant exercise will simulate the exchange of information that takes place leading up to a severe weather and flash flood event. Incidents will also occur leading up to the event that will test the ability of NWS and our partners to communicate important decision support information and activate emergency response plans.


2:30 PM Hotwash and Wrap-up

IWT Welcome Presentation River Forecasts vs Outlooks Presentation Ensemble Forecasts Follow-up


Tabletop Situation Manual (pdf doc)


TTX Module 1 Briefing TTX Module 2 Briefing TTX Module 3 Briefing TTX Module 4 Briefing  


After-Action Report/Improvement Plan (pdf)