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Decision Support Services Provided by the NWS Corpus Christi Weather Forecast Office during the historic 2008–2009 South Texas Drought and Fire Season

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Monday, 24 January 2011
Decision Support Services Provided by the NWS Corpus Christi Weather Forecast Office during the historic 2008–2009 South Texas Drought and Fire Season
Jason Runyen, NOAA/NWS, Corpus Christi, TX

Poster PDF (5.8 MB)

The demand for Decision Support Services by National Weather Service partners has been growing in recent years. The NWS's future is focused on improving interpretive services provided by weather forecasters to decision makers. This is an evolution from a “product-centric” to an “information and interpretive-centric” culture. Rather than requiring the user to sort through information, the goal is to have core partners receive interpreted NWS data to meet their needs in a quick and concise manner.

These interpretive services are most important during high impact events such as the 2008-2009 drought in South Texas, the worst in over 50 years. Periods of drought-stressed fuels and critical fire weather patterns also resulted in devastating wildfires that destroyed homes and threatened entire towns. The drought impacted a wide partner base across South Texas, each having different decision support requirements from the NWS. This presentation will examine how the support services developed and provided by the NWS Corpus Christi Weather Forecast Office allowed key partners to make better decisions.

Examples of interpretive services will include: the development of a dynamic drought website where users could access local impacts and outlooks; presentations provided to agriculture and hydrology partners; a fire weather workshop to discuss the impacts of the drought and fire season; a revamp of red flag criteria and spot forecasts tailored to user needs; fire weather education at prescribed burn workshops; on-site fire weather support for the Texas Forest Service Emergency Operations Center and Granbury Incident Command Post; locally produced graphicasts, e-mails and Web conferences that highlighted critical fire weather days; real-time Instant Messaging provided through NWSChat; recorded multimedia briefings made available on the Web; and quarterly updates provided in the South Texas Weather Journal publication. In addition, climatological summaries were provided in Public Information Statements, biweekly updates were included in Drought Information Statements, and monthly updates were submitted to the NWS's Storm Data publication.

This poster will also include examples of future improvements to Decision Support Services drawn from lessons learned during the drought and other recent high impact events.