Joint Session 6 Translating Weather into the Spanish Language Part 1: Current Resources and Initiatives in the Spanish Weather World

Monday, 13 January 2020: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
252B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Hosts: (Joint between the Eighth Symposium on the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise; the 48th Conference on Broadcast Meteorology; and the Eighth Symposium on Building a Weather-Ready Nation: Enhancing Our Nation's Readiness, Responsiveness, and Resilience to High Impact Weather Events )
Joseph Enrique Trujillo, CIMMS/NSSL, Societal Impacts Group, Norman, OK and Gina M Eosco, OAR, Silver Spring, MD

According to the Census Bureau[2], there are 40 million U.S. residents, age 5 and older, who speak Spanish in their home.  Approximately, 44% of those who speak Spanish at home speak English less than “very well.”[3] The Weather Enterprise has many ways to reach these populations. Telemundo, an NBCUniversal owned television network, and Univision are dedicated Spanish-speaking TV stations that hire meteorologists. The National Weather Service (NWS) also formed a Spanish-speaking group to address the growing need to translate NWS products. Weather software companies such as WSI and Baron also suggest Spanish translations in their weather software. The challenge is no one is using the same translation.


Because weather terms are often unique, there is often no agreed upon translation. Additionally, just as there are dialects of English that vary by geography, so too are there different Spanish translations by geography. This is increasingly becoming a challenge for the Weather Enterprise. For example, the NWS Hazard Simplification effort, an evaluation of the watch, warning, advisory system, found that there are many translations of the word, “warning”[4] where as the phrase “outflow boundary” has no direct translation. There is also no standard across all television stations. During Impact Based Warnings focus groups, emergency managers raised concern about translating the terms “considerable” and “catastrophic,” terms used to denote a possible level of damage within tornado warnings. Not only are there direct translation issues, but there is also a lack of context for what the term means in the context of weather.[5]


Additionally, a number of recent efforts cite the need for more Spanish support. The Hurricane Matthew Service Assessment,[6] for example, cited efforts by the NWS Miami Forecast Office who translated key messages regarding hazards from Matthew. The Assessment pointed out that these welcomed efforts are inconsistently available across the enterprise.


In light of this need, this session is requesting abstracts that identify and address the following topics:  

  • Past and present challenges in translating weather into Spanish
  • Existing Spanish weather translation resources
  • Ways to address these challenges in the future



[3] Calculated using the following data:

[4] Hazard Simplification Workshop/Focus Groups

[5] Impact Based Warnings Focus Group Report

[6] Hurricane Matthew Service Assessment

10:30 AM
From Alberto the Avocado to Augmented Reality
John Toohey-Morales, WTVJ NBC-6, Miami, FL

11:45 AM
The Storm Prediction Center Spanish Language Initiative
Joseph Enrique Trujillo, CIMMS/NSSL, Norman, OK; and O. Bermudez, P. T. Marsh, and E. M. Leitman

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner