826 NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge IDSS Pilot Project: Impact-Based Decision Support Services in a Marine Environment

Thursday, 10 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Matthew J. Moreland, NOAA/NWS/WFO in Slidell, LA, Slidell, LA; and T. Erickson, A. Montanez, and K. Graham

Handout (4.6 MB)

As part of the Weather-Ready Nation initiative and the NWS Roadmap, the National Weather Service has established a series of six Pilot Projects to test the concept of providing on site weather decision support services to federal, state, and local government partners in the time of large planned events or man-made or natural disasters. One of these six Pilot Projects has been established at the NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge office. With frequent threats from hurricanes, floods, and human-caused disasters, the New Orleans area is no stranger to preparing for, responding to, and recovering from calamities. In the last two years the area has dealt with a tornado threat during Mardi Gras, a seven foot storm surge from Tropical Storm Lee, and months of significant on-site weather support needed for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. With 2.9 million people, seven major ports, and 7500 miles of receding coastline, the southeast Louisiana and southern Mississippi area is a clear choice to evaluate the concepts of impact-based decision support services.

The NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge IDSS Pilot Project began in December 2011 – with the special focus of this project being impact-based decision support in a marine environment. The office is staffed with three additional Emergency Response Specialists which are staffed full time on implementing the project plan. The team has seen three major deployments: in support of the city for Mardi Gras and Final Four weekend in Spring 2012, and in support of the City of New Orleans, Coast Guard, and US Navy during the Navy Week event. For each of these events, tens of thousands of tourists were present in the city in outdoor settings with on-site weather IDSS necessary in support of public safety. The team is working to build and strengthen partnerships with local and state government partners such as local emergency management, the Coast Guard, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the ports and other marine partners. Technology is a big part of the pilot project, with the team testing new Hysplit software packages, development of new marine-based point forecasts, and testing of the AWIPS thin client. Other major goals of the project are the development of an IDSS “event playbook”, the development of an impacts catalog of core partner thresholds, and development of social science surveys of core customers. The pilot project team will work toward the development of improved tropical and marine IDSS-related training and exercises, and Hazmat training. The first major accomplishment in the training arena was a Tropical Training Short Course hosted for the NWS pilot projects at NHC in June 2012. The training and partner building is leading up to the likelihood of providing enhanced support in a tropical cyclone, and for the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans. The implementation of enhanced IDSS requires a significant culture change in the National Weather Service, with a greater focus on short-term forecasting, implementation of IDSS-based training, and more manpower spent providing on-site support.

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