5.6 Targeted Safety Messaging during Hazardous Weather Situations at the Daytona International Speedway

Tuesday, 12 January 2016: 2:45 PM
Room 255/257 ( New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)
William A. Ulrich, NOAA/NWS, Melbourne, FL; and T. Sedlock, D. S. Kelly, S. Spratt, D. Sharp, F. Johnson, L. LaHue, and T. Willrick

With a capacity of nearly 150,000 spectators, the Daytona International Speedway (DIS) is one of the largest outdoor sporting venues in the country. Several times each year, high-profile racing events are held with tens of thousands of fans setting up temporary residence in automobiles, campers, recreational vehicles, and tents within a 182-acre infield. This is in addition to those assembled within massive open-air grandstands. Hazardous weather can pose significant challenges to local emergency management and those responsible for providing timely and accurate safety information to a highly concentrated and exposed population. In an effort to protect life and property, Decision Support Specialists at the National Weather Service Office in Melbourne, FL provide critical weather support to county and city emergency management, as well as to DIS safety personnel. Each day, detailed forecasts for event planning are rendered based on specific threshold criteria, followed by the provision of real-time guidance relative to any looming weather threats. The threat for thunderstorms and associated hazards are continually assessed, to include the issuance of lightning watches and warnings if that threat becomes imminent. As part of their Event Action Plan, these specialized services are integrated within a multi-phased messaging paradigm to improve spectator responsiveness. The messaging scheme is designed to exploit several communication platforms by rapidly pushing safety recommendations directly to onsite race fans. This presentation will highlight specific value-added components which aided decision-makers during recent Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 race events, both of which were impacted by hazardous weather that resulted in the evacuation of the grandstands without injury.
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