Building a Weather-Ready Nation Partnership between NOAA/NWS and FEMA

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Thursday, 8 January 2015: 2:00 PM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Daniel Porter, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD; and J. McNatt

The purpose of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)/National Weather Service (NWS) Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) initiative is first and foremost to save lives and “build community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather and water events”. Through this initiative, the country will enhance the capabilities to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate weather-related disasters. One of the goals of the WRN strategic plan is to improve weather, climate, water and space weather decision support services. This is being accomplished by engaging with various federal partners, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)/Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), who share a very similar mission with the NOAA/NWS. Through a strong federal partnership, the NOAA/NWS continues to improve its knowledge of FEMA's operational needs and understanding of how weather information is incorporated into decision-making and risk management activities.

The NOAA/NWS liaison position has been permanently stationed at FEMA Headquarters for nearly the past five years and directly interacts on a daily basis with FEMA leadership to provide decision support services. The role of the liaison is to understand FEMA's informational needs, and provide situational awareness in an appropriate format that effectively communicates uncertainty and risk. During major or catastrophic events, FEMA's National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), a multiagency center that coordinates the overall Federal support, will activate and the NOAA/NWS liaison provides on-site support to FEMA and other high-ranking government officials.

In September 2011, the NWS/Southern Region Headquarters – Regional Operations Center (SRH-ROC) became one of six pilot projects staffed by a group of emergency response specialists/meteorologists to test the concept of developing integrated regional-scale situational awareness and communication capabilities to provide mission critical decision support services. Through various routine and event-driven briefings, partnership meetings, exercises, and deployments to the Regional Response Coordination Centers (RRCCs) and Hurricane Liaison Team, the SRH-ROC pilot project continues to enhance previously established relationships with FEMA Regions IV and VI, and other regional support agencies.

This presentation will provide examples of decision support services that have helped strengthen the partnership between NOAA/NWS and DHS/FEMA and further promote the WRN initiative at both national and regional levels. In addition, tools used for coordination and collaboration across the nation with other NOAA/NWS and DHS/FEMA entities as well as best-practices learned for communicating threats, impacts and risks will be discussed.