Monday, 15 January 2007: 2:15 PM
A THREE YEAR REVIEW OF THE OPERATIONAL HEAT STRESS ASSESSMENT SYSTEM AT THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORECAST OFFICE NEW ORLEANS/BATON ROUGE
207B (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Excessive heat has been a stifling influence over the past century with the severity of its wrath only now coming to fruition. Each year during the summer season, people are falling victim to severe heat disorders. In fact, during a normal year, around 175 people die from over-exposure to extreme torrid temperatures. As a result, scientists (predominantly climatologists and meteorologists) have been examining this phenomenon more closely in an effort to lessen these unfortunate results. Beginning in the summer of 2001, the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office New Orleans/Baton Rouge, (WFO LIX) in association with the University of Delaware and Kent State University, began a test and evaluation for an Operational Heat Stress Assessment System (OHSAS). The test and evaluation generally runs from May 15 through September 30. Over the past three years (i.e. 2003 through 2005), operational procedures have been refined to better evaluate and test the OHSAS. Specifically, official forecast data have been implemented into this system which allows NWS forecasters a more detailed analysis of potentially hazardous environments conducive to dangerous heat conditions. Ironically, one of the more optimal periods of time to evaluate the effectiveness of the OHSAS developed days after Hurricane Katrina ravaged much of Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi. Unfortunately, most of the NWS equipment used to collect the raw data necessary for the OHSAS was either severely damaged or destroyed as a result of Hurricane Katrina.