Applying Lessons Learned from Hurricane Prediction and Preparedness in Road Weather - A Comparison of Blizzards versus Hurricanes

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 4:30 PM
131C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Jeremy Paul Duensing, Schneider Electric, Minneapolis, MN

Hurricanes and blizzards are both powerful weather phenomena, each with the potential to have a large impact on society but in very different ways. Though both phenomenon have relatively long lead times and can involve can involve strong winds, there is a stark contrast between the blowing snow and bitter cold temperatures associated with blizzards and the storm surge and torrential rains associated with hurricanes. According to the NCDC, since 1980 there have been thirty-three (33) tropical-related “billion dollar weather disasters” which have been responsible for over 3000 deaths. During this same period, there have been ten (10) winter storm “billion dollar weather disasters” which were responsible for almost 900 deaths. Despite the fact that there were triple the number of tropical-related disasters as winter weather-related disasters, thankfully the fatality rate per tropical disaster is roughly the same as the fatality rate per winter weather disaster.

This means that the weather community has done a good job in preparing the public for hurricanes. The general public understands the potential severity of the storm and heeds the calls for advanced planning such as stocking up on supplies or even evacuation. This session will review the successes in hurricane forecasting and preparedness and suggest ways the road weather community can apply this to winter weather and the eventual task of removing snow and ice from the roadway. Included in the presentation will be potential improvements to communicating risk to the driving public and the contrasting of the use of mobile observations in hurricane and winter weather forecasting.