4.2 NWS Emergency Response Specialist Short Course: Responding to Tropical Cyclone Emergencies

Thursday, 10 January 2013: 3:45 PM
Ballroom E (Austin Convention Center)
Pablo Santos, NOAA/NWS, Miami, FL; and D. Sharp, A. Devanas, J. G. Estupiñán, M. J. Moreland, D. P. Brown, and J. Rhome

The delivery of enhanced decision support assumes legitimate expertise on the part of National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters in threat assessment, impact recognition, and message communication (i.e., primary phases of the decision support cycle). Recent tropical cyclone events, as highlighted in the Hurricane Irene Service Assessment, have revealed operational shortcomings relative to the measure of applied knowledge and skills forecasters need to fulfill the agency's expanding mission in such high impact situations. There is a need to construct and deliver a comprehensive, agency-sponsored tropical cyclone operations training program with decision support services as a critical component. This is an important recommendation of the Irene Service Assessment. To address this need, in part, the 2011 NOAA Hurricane Conference endorsed the creation of a NWS/Emergency Response Specialist short course on tropical cyclone operations and decision support services. The course was delivered in June 2012 at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, FL, with participants from the pilot projects at the NWS National Operations Center, Southern Region Operations Center, and the New Orleans/Baton Rouge, Tampa Bay Area, and Sterling Weather Forecast Offices. The Emergency Response Specialists were first targeted to receive this training since they are at the forefront of enhancing decision support services as part of the Weather-Ready Nation initiative. The short course addressed essential knowledge and skills needed to support NWS core customers with making key decisions. Topics emphasized an understanding of the hurricane problem, the decision support process, customer thresholds, impacts of high wind, storm surge, inland flooding, and other associated hazards, communication of a unified message, and expertise-building. Recognized experts from the related physical sciences, social sciences, and emergency management communities shared their prowess through presentations, facilitated discussions, and tailored exercises. This effort also served as the basis for proposing an agency-sponsored tropical cyclone operations training program with the goal of establishing a pathway for other NWS forecasters to receive similar training.

This presentation will cover the history, motivation, content description, and lessons learned of this short course experience.

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