775 A Tale of Two High Impact Events: Messaging and Communication Tactics for Environmentally Capricious Outcomes

Tuesday, 9 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 3 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Cynthia B. Elsenheimer, NWSFO, Jacksonville, FL; and N. McGinnis

Between the months of October 2016 and January 2017, the National Weather Service (NWS) in Jacksonville, Florida faced two extremely rare weather events for the local area. Each event posed life-threatening risks to the local community, but drastically differed in the form of high impact. The first was Hurricane Matthew; forecast by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) to become a Major Hurricane (Category 3) and pass less than 40 miles from the southeast Georgia and northeast Florida coastlines. The second was a severe weather outbreak on January 22, 2017. This event was forecast with high confidence four days in advance by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC), and resulted in a High Risk of Severe Weather on the Day 1 Convective Outlook issued by SPC the morning of the event. Each event was well-forecast several days in advance, resulting in long-term Decision Support Services (DSS) to NWS partners. Several different methods were utilized to communicate the risks and potential impacts of these events, including briefing packages, webinars, social media, and deployment of NWS meteorologists to local Emergency Operations Centers (EOC). This project analyzes the different communication methods used to provide DSS to NWS Jacksonville partners, and the reception of the escalated wording used to communicate the uniqueness and potential danger of both hazardous weather events. Additionally, this project seeks to serve the greater NWS community as a resource for when potentially catastrophic impacts are expected, but are not experienced to the fullest measure.
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