6.7 High Impact Meteorology Supporting Response and Recovery During and After Two Devastating Hurricanes

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 3:15 PM
Ballroom D (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Kevin Scharfenberg, NOAA, Miami, FL; and E. Rodriguez, E. Morales, A. Treadway, A. Devanas, J. Rizzo, M. J. Moreland, M. Davison, R. Cabrera, J. McNatt, and S. White

Hurricanes Irma and Maria brought significant destruction to Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands during September 2017. Forecasts and warnings have importance not only prior to the onset of storm impacts, but also during the response and recovery phases when many more people are potentially exposed to the elements. Irma and Maria presented a substantial challenge to National Weather Service operations as critical forecasts and warnings were needed in areas with major outages to the observational and communications networks.

Hydrometeorological interpretive services, also called decision support services, were carried out successfully by local NWS Key West and NWS San Juan personnel that had been deployed to assist with response and recovery efforts. The success of the local deployments was related to efforts during the 10 years prior to the disasters as NWS meteorologists built relationships with local officials by participating in regularly-scheduled training exercises.

For a period during and after the storms’ impacts, the meteorological analysis, warning, and forecasting duties for NWS Key West and NWS San Juan were carried out by NWS personnel at remote offices. The damage to local infrastructure, caused by the winds associated with Irma and Maria, brought communications outages to Key West and San Juan that forced the transfer to remote operations.

Personnel at the NWS offices where remote services were performed and deployed personnel identified many best practices and lessons learned during these operations. This presentation will focus on three aspects of NWS services during and after these historic events: the unique forecast challenges and service assistance needs, the importance of relationships and on-site support, and ideas and recommendations that can be applied during future events.

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