2002 Annual

Tuesday, 15 January 2002: 11:45 AM
COMETóWe're Not Just for Forecasters Anymore
Victoria C. Johnson, UCAR/COMET, Boulder, CO; and T. C. Spangler
Poster PDF (15.8 kB)
The COMET Program has produced hundreds of hours of computer-based learning (CBL) materials for the nation's forecasters. However, we have also created learning materials that may be of interest to the general public and those in K-12 education, higher education, and certain careers.

In 1998, the COMET Program released a CBL module designed primarily for emergency managers in hurricane-prone areas. Community Hurricane Preparedness describes how hurricanes form, what influences their life cycle and paths, and what hazards are associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. Students learn about the forecast process and the uncertainties inherent in hurricane forecasting. A concluding exercise allows the learner to play the part of an emergency manager faced with an oncoming hurricane for which he or she must make decisions based on forecast track, storm speed, and community evacuation criteria. As in the real world, decisions are complicated, conditions change rapidly, and making the right choices at the right time is critical. A shorter path through the module is also available for people in decision-making roles (such as mayors, county commissioners, police chiefs) who need to understand hurricanes and the difficulties emergency managers face, without all the detail available in the full module. Community Hurricane Preparedness is accessible to anyone on the MetEd Web site at http://meted.ucar.edu/hurrican/chp/index.htm. It is also available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a free CD for emergency managers who register to take the FEMA independent study course by the same name.

In 2000, we released a second module for emergency managers. Anticipating Hazardous Weather and Community Risk is also part of FEMA's independent study program. This module provides a basic introduction to meteorology as viewed from global, synoptic, and mesoscale perspectives. We believe that K-12 educators and those working in higher education could find the materials and graphics in this section particularly useful. Hazards and the forecast process and products are also discussed, but from a broader perspective than in the hurricane module since this module covers hazardous weather of all kinds. Anticipating Hazardous Weather also concludes with a decision-making exercise, which is based on the 1997 Fort Collins, Colorado flood. It is available at http://meted.ucar.edu/hazwx/index.htm.

One of our latest products is based on the Community Hurricane Preparedness module, but geared toward middle school students. Hurricane Strike! puts the student in the role of a visitor to a Fort Walton Beach home. Just as the student arrives at the virtual front door, the Weather Channel announces the approach of Tropical Storm Erin. Over six days, the storm intensifies and the student must perform various tasks to prepare for the hurricane. These include science activities in which the student learns about hurricanes and safety activities where the student helps the host family in their safety preparations. The module is highly interactive and makes extensive use of animations and audio. At the time of this writing, the project was not complete, so information about how to access it will be provided at the conference.

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