7.6 Successful Integration of the NWS Las Vegas Weather Support Team concept into WFO Operations

Wednesday, 13 January 2016: 5:15 PM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
Todd Lericos, NOAA/NWS, Las Vegas, NV; and M. J. Paddock

Las Vegas, Nevada has a large economy based on tourism, entertainment and gaming. Over 40 million visitors come to Las Vegas annually and attend hundreds of entertainment venues for concerts, festivals and sporting events. Many of these entertainment events attract tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of people in a single day. This creates both a target for terrorism, and a susceptibility to other disasters (e.g. adverse weather) than can cause mass casualties.

The Emergency Management and First Responder community in the Las Vegas area has an important mission to utilize an Incident Command System (ICS) to manage these larger venues. Given the number of events, the activities of each supporting agency such as planning, training and executing support is nearly constant throughout the year. In addition to planned events, high-impact weather events such as large scale flash flooding can require a significant response.

In order to meet the weather support needs of our Emergency Management/First Responder core customers and provide critical weather support within the local ICS System, National Weather Service (NWS) Las Vegas began an initiative in early 2014 to design and implement a different concept of support by forming a Weather Support Team. The team currently is comprised of six meteorologists (2 Lead Forecasters, 3 Journeyman Forecasters and 1 Meteorologist Intern) and is responsible for setting goals, executing training and developing operational plans for deployments. The team's ultimate responsibility is to maintain a readiness to deploy into any core customers ICS construct (i.e. Incident Command Post or Emergency Operations Center, etc...) as needed.

The Weather Support Team now has deployed to over 12 events at both the Incident Command Post and Emergency Operations Center level within the ICS. This has resulted in providing over 400 hours of on-scene weather support. The critical information provided to Incident Command has enabled agencies to successfully plan for and mitigate the effects of weather on operations with measurable results.

This presentation seeks to discuss the origin, design and implementation of the Weather Support Team and its integration into NWS Las Vegas Weather Forecast Office operations. Furthermore, a detailed discussion of both successes and challenges in creating a new level of service for core customers and future plans to enhance services will also be presented.

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