6.6 Building Trusted Partnerships between Media and the National Weather Service to Improve Threat Communication Prior to Hurricane Matthew

Wednesday, 10 January 2018: 9:45 AM
Ballroom E (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Maria M. Torres, NWSFO, Miami, FL; and I. Sans

During the 2016 hurricane season, Hurricane Matthew came within close proximity to the Florida Peninsula. Eleven years had elapsed since the last major hurricane (Wilma, 2005) to make landfall in the state; Matthew put most east Florida coastal communities on alert. Many southeast U.S. media markets informed their respective communities of the potential hazards that Matthew could bring to the region, such as significant storm surge and inland flooding. Matthew proved the importance of establishing trusted relationships between the National Weather Service (NWS) and media partners before an event occurs.

Integrated Weather Team (IWT) workshops and other interactions prior to Matthew were instrumental in building and strengthening trust among partners, while emphasizing the important message of NWS tropical cyclone information. One example described at the IWT workshops was the new Hurricane Threat and Impact (HTI) graphics. HTI products are intended to answer the following question: When a hurricane threatens, to what extent should preparations be undertaken to protect my community from damaging wind, storm surge flooding, rainfall flooding, and tornadoes?

Evidence from a survey of media partners conducted after Matthew indicated that HTI graphics and associated messages were well-received and understood by local and regional media. Trusted communication provided before, during and after Matthew ensured success. Matthew’s communication success exemplifies the importance of strengthening core partnerships with the media through IWT workshops, thereby achieving a goal of the Weather-Ready Nation program. These strong partnerships ensure a unified message is provided by the Weather Enterprise to potentially impacted communities before a disaster such as Hurricane Matthew strikes. Clear and consistent messaging, inferred from the results of the survey, will further improve the ability of communities to be ready, responsive, and resilient to future hurricanes - the three core tenets for building a Weather-Ready Nation.

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