Examples of Successful Partnerships in the
Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise
Integrated Warning Team Workshops
Since 2008 the National Weather Service has taken the lead on Integrated Warning Team Workshops to bring together emergency managers, broadcast meteorologists, and NWS forecasters to improve the coordination and effectiveness of weather information and dissemination. These regional meetings, considered a spin-off of the NWS-funded WAS*IS (Weather and Society * Integrated Studies) program, have been held in Springfield, MO; Kansas City, MO (4); Pittsburgh, PA; Cedar Rapids, IA; Indianapolis, IN; Detroit, MI; Miami, FL; Grand Forks, ND; Minneapolis, MN; and Colorado Springs, CO. These workshops have had many benefits. The partners build sustained relationships and learn about the decision-making contexts during severe weather and flood events.
The four Kansas City meetings have led to many communication and operations improvements that reflect a growing emphasis on impacts-based forecasting. Two are noted here:
• The broadcast meteorologists recognized that they were not providing a consistent message to all viewers. After the workshop and a conference call the competitors arrived at a consensus on a color scheme for representing tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings. As a result, when viewers change from one television channel to another, rather than having to interpret different colors for the same warnings from station to station, they now see consistent information across the channel spectrum.
• As a result of the first Integrated Warning Team workshop held in Kansas City, MO, in 2009, the NWS now provides hail and wind tags (special coding) showing the magnitude of the threat of strong straight-line winds and the expected hail sizes so broadcasters and others can easily tailor their own messages based on the best and most local information. This has been implemented across the Central Region forecast offices. This methodology has been expanded for use in tornado warnings with the Impact Based Warning Experiment, currently under way at 5 WFOs in Missouri and Kansas. These new tornado tags provide key partners and customers with impact magnitude and source information previously unavailable in tornado warnings. These tags had their roots in the initial Integrated Warning Team work lead by the Kansas City/Pleasant Hill WFO in Missouri.
Incident Meteorologists Help Fight Wildfires
Incident meteorologists (IMETs) are National Weather Service forecasters specially trained to work with Incident Management Teams and are deployed to severe wildfire outbreaks. They travel quickly to the incident site and set up a mobile weather center to provide continuous meteorological support for the duration of the incident. The mobile weather centers include a cell phone, a laptop computer, and a two-way portable satellite dish for gathering and displaying weather data including satellite imagery and numerical weather prediction output.
IMET duties include briefing firefighters. They have an understanding of the needs of fire managers and use their understanding of meteorology to communicate the relevant information to meet those needs. IMETs help fire control specialists from federal, state, and local agencies by interpreting weather information, assessing its impact on the fire, and helping develop strategies to best fight the fires and keep firefighters and the vulnerable public safe.
The NWS contributions to fighting Spring 2012 wildfires have been recognized by the Fish and Wildlife Service (from a letter from Troy L. Davis, District Fire Management Officer):
“The … fire we just attacked this past week was burning under extreme weather conditions of very low humidity and high winds in the middle of the night and early morning. A spot forecast was requested and promptly produced by this weather office. Shortly after the spot forecast was produced a change in the jet stream caused wind gusts up to 63 mph that was heading towards the fire. The forecaster at the weather office
of NWS-generated information. As noted previously, a substantial portion of weather, water, and climate information no longer comes directly from the NWS to the public and businesses but is enhanced along the way. Moving forward, more concrete steps for directly leveraging the broader enterprise beyond “communications and dissemination” will be needed as part of explicit NWS planning, including the expected update to the Weather-Ready Nation Roadmap (NWS, 2012).
This chapter provides details and sub-recommendations in support of Recommendation III.
Recommendation III: Leverage the Entire Enterprise
The National Weather Service (NWS) should broaden collaboration and cooperation with other parts of the weather, water, and climate enterprise. The greatest national good is achieved when all parts of the