16B.7 National Weather Service MAS Team -- Providing Services to Spanish Speaking Communities During High Impact Events

Friday, 20 April 2018: 12:30 PM
Masters ABCD (Sawgrass Marriott)
Maria M. Torres, NWSFO, Miami, FL

Inspired by the heavy demand of Spanish Social Media interaction during high impact events such as Hurricane Matthew in 2016, a team of forecasters and managers from NWS offices at Austin/San Antonio, Corpus Christi, Miami, and the NWS Southern Region developed a new experimental team called Multimedia Assistance in Spanish or “MAS”. The team provides Spanish-language social media support to those offices that do not have the staffing to provide those services. Similar to the NWS Supplemental Assistance Volunteer Initiative (SAVI) team, MAS provides virtual Spanish-language social media support through Skype and telephone interviews in close coordination with the Social Media Coordinator of the requesting office. The support team consists of fluent Spanish-language writers and speakers across NWS Southern Region offices who support each other during a high impact weather event.

The MAS team activated for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017, lending a helping hand to Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico offices with a need for Spanish-language services, including those who may have Spanish-language communicators on station but required additional assistance due to heavy workload. This presentation will provide an overview of the MAS program, including examples from the 2017 Hurricanes to illustrate how this service helped the NWS reach vulnerable Spanish-speaking communities during these extreme events.

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