8.1 Proactive Strategies in Communicating National Level Impact Based Decision Support Services (IDSS) at the National Weather Service Operations Center in Silver Spring, MD

Thursday, 26 January 2017: 1:30 PM
615 (Washington State Convention Center )
Kenneth R. Widelski, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD; and K. Struckmann, M. Sowko, and S. Goldstein

Since 2012, the National Weather Service Operations Center (NWSOC) at NWS HQ in Silver Spring, MD has pioneered strategies to communicate high-impact weather to core stakeholders including NOAA/NWS leadership.  NWSOC provides 16-hour per day service, 7 days a week, with one Team Lead and four full- time Emergency Response Specialist (ERS) meteorologists, plus a cadre of volunteers. The NWSOC performs its mission by operating on a 4-level system, modeled after FEMA. Each level is based on observed or anticipated impacts and operations tempo. In an attempt to standardize the agency’s readiness posture, the Regional Operations Centers (ROCs) have also adopted this scale for levels of operations.

The mission of the NWSOC is to provide timely, Impact-Based Decision Support Services (IDSS) to meet the evolving needs of NWS leadership, partners, and stakeholders. NWSOC supports agency readiness by proactively collaborating and facilitating the exchange of critical information, setting operational posture, and briefing leadership. Effective collaboration leads to informed decisions based upon quality environmental and situational awareness information.

The NWSOC’s mission is achieved through formal, onsite briefings that take place each weekday morning at NWS Headquarters in Silver Spring. All impacts are coordinated through six regional operations centers (ROC’s) and national subject matter experts to ensure a consistent message. The NWS Director, Deputy Director, and numerous office directors are present for this briefing.  Written reports, such as the “Significant Event Outlook” and the “Breaking News Messages” are also developed to enhance situational awareness during high impact weather events. The NWSOC also accomplishes its mission by providing National level IDSS through extensive collaboration with the NOAA Liaison Officer (LNO) to FEMA, The White House, CDC, USGS, Customs and Border Protection, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services. NWSOC also collaborates internally with the NWS Communications Office, Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, and other NOAA Line Offices to ensure consistent messaging.  

Collaboration with the six Regional Operations Centers, National Centers, and Federal Agencies ensures a consistent message is provided which leads to coordinated decision making at the highest levels of federal government. The NWSOC is seen as the focal point for operational information for the NWS.

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