85th AMS Annual Meeting

Wednesday, 12 January 2005
Video Hurricane Local Statement
Dennis Feltgen, NOAA/NWSFO, Key West, FL; and A. Devanas
In the event that a tropical storm or hurricane watch/warning is issued by the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC) / National Hurricane Center (NHC), or if a public evacuation is ordered, the coastal Weather Forecast Offices (WFO) responsible for the area must issue a Hurricane Local Statements (HLS). The HLS is a text product designed to inform local decision makers, the media, and the public on present and expected storm impacts in their county warning area (CWA) and adjacent waters. The intention is to provide local detail to the advisory package issued by the Tropical Prediction Center. The HLS is connected to the mission of the National Weather Service (NWS), assisting in the preparation and implementation of necessary precautions for the protection of life and property, as well as to minimize the economic losses as a result of tropical cyclone.

In 1999, WFO Melbourne introduced the graphical Hurricane Local Statement (gHLS) as a complement to the HLS. The gHLS provided a web based graphical depiction, using bar charts, of tropical cyclone induced wind, surge, flash flood and marine threat levels. The concept of the gHLS was to display the HLS complex threat information in a manner more easily understood by the media, general public, and emergency management. WFO Melbourne has sought customer impact from a variety of sources, and the feedback received and compiled has been very positive, and has led to improvements in the product since the initial implementation.

WFO Key West (EYW) has been producing and developing informational public service videos for local government and community access channels since early 2003. The videos were so well received that requests were made from the local television stations for live updates during Tropical Storm and Hurricane threats. However, the logistics involved in providing a live update during tropical events were prohibitive, so WFO Key West developed the video Hurricane Local Statement (vHLS) in response to customer demand, with the first operational usage occurring during Hurricane Charley (August 2004). The vHLS is available on the WFO EYW web site within an hour of the Tropical Prediction Center advisory package issuance, and can be downloaded or played with any of several standard PC based media players. The vHLS is developed using commercially available PC based audio and video software programs, and produces a graphical media file which displays images such as satellite pictures, tracking maps and storm-specific emergency information, with corresponding recorded audio track by a WFO EYW meteorologist. The Windows Media Video (WMV) format is used because it is highly compressible and can be compressed to match various bandwidths. The intention of the vHLS is to improve customer understanding and retention of crucial threat information and to complement the HLS.

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