3.6 WRN Success Story: WFO Great Falls Supports the People of Montana Through the Historic Flooding of 2011

Thursday, 10 January 2013: 2:45 PM
Ballroom E (Austin Convention Center)
Gina Loss, NOAA/NWS, Great Falls, MT

Handout (8.2 MB)

Weather Ready Nation will make America safer by saving more lives and protecting livelihoods as communities across the country become increasingly vulnerable to extreme weather events. Montana's historic flooding of 2011 was an extraordinary event from many perspectives; extensive ice jams, record-breaking snowfall, extreme rainfall, rapid runoff, and prolonged and excessive reservoir releases. There was no corner of the state untouched. The National Weather Service was able to improve flood preparedness and responsiveness for communities, businesses, and individuals through comprehensive outreach and education. Innovative techniques included webinars for partners and emergency responders, media interviews, town hall meetings, and flyers, all of which discussed the potential for flooding and flooding preparedness. During the height of the event, National Weather Service personnel staffed and became an integral part of the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC). The onsite comprehensive and on-the-fly decision support offered by the National Weather Service was described as critical to state emergency and disaster operations and played a crucial role in the state receiving a Presidential Disaster Declaration. The communication and collaboration between many different agencies offered some challenges during this flood event. Not only did the National Weather Service maintain their long-standing relationships, but they also created new relationships with some non-traditional partners in the effort to keep decision makers informed of dangerous, rapidly-changing conditions.

While this event challenged even the most experienced water managers in Montana, it offered many opportunities for new and innovative approaches for the National Weather Service to employ in preparing society as well as decision makers for the event.

This presentation will review the decision support services provided by the Great Falls Weather Forecast Office to prepare partners, emergency responders and the public for the anticipated flooding and assist them as the event unfolded to protect lives and livelihoods.

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