813 Development of the "SWERV" Mobile Command Unit as part of the NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge IDSS Pilot Project

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

Handout (2.9 MB)

One of the six NWS Pilot Projects as part of the Weather-Ready Nation initiative has been established at the NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge office as of December 2011, with a primary focus being providing decision support in a marine environment. Part of the NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge impact-based decision support pilot project is the establishment of a mobile command unit. The SWERV (Significant Weather Emergency Response Vehicle) has been established to provide “focused coordination” at any Incident Command Center where all incident responders are hearing and seeing the information being presented at one location at one time via personal interaction. This is the first mobile command incident response vehicle that has been established in the NWS. The SWERV was featured at the 2012 AMS Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The SWERV has been deployed several times to support the City of New Orleans during major events in which weather support was needed for public safety, and for several outreach events. The NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge office is planning to deploy the SWERV to support national, state, and local government agencies during Super Bowl 2013 and several other major events that will be held in southeast Louisiana over the next year. The SWERV trailer began as a post-Katrina FEMA trailer that was donated to the NWS New Orleans office. A team from NWS New Orleans office worked for several weeks on preparing the trailer as a mobile command unit. The interior was torn out to make way for a weather command center briefing area. The exterior of the trailer was wrapped in a vinyl coating which was donated by a local company. The “weather oriented” exterior includes the NWS and NOAA logos, labeling of the “Weather-Ready Nation” initiative, and labeling of the NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge emergency response pilot project. The exterior and interior have been furnished with equipment to support impact based decision support deployments. An extension pole at the back houses a field mill, observation station, and 360-degree night vision camera. The deployments so far have taken place on days with a significant threat of cloud-to-ground lightning, and a lightning detection system has been installed accordingly. Three large TV monitors have been placed inside with one being an inside/outside unit that can be taken out for briefings. The ERS pilot project team is equipped with deployment laptops which can display the AWIPS thin client, satellite, or radar data on the monitors for use in weather briefings. A printer has been installed as well as capability for wireless internet. The team is equipped with iPhones and 700 MHz radios for communication. Most of the hardware that has been installed is wireless due to heavy foot traffic. The SWERV trailer has been an essential part of the NWS New Orleans/Baton Rouge IDSS pilot project in terms of both focused coordination and “marketing” of the decision support capabilities of the office. The NWS team of emergency response specialists has provided briefings from the SWERV during Final Four and Navy Week when a formal command center was not available. The office has received positive commendations on the trailer from local and state emergency management, many of whom have requested it for outreach events over the next year. The presence of the trailer lets the public know that emergency management has the “weather covered” for the particular event. The trailer and wrap get people to ask questions about the team's purpose and the NWS Weather-Ready Nation initiative. The desire is to see other NWS offices develop similar deployment vehicles for use in decision support.

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