Past and Present National Hurricane Center Directors discussing hurricane messaging in the 2010s at the 2014 National Tropical Weather Conference
A "Who’s Who" of National Hurricane Center Directors since the early 1970s on a panel discussion about communication of Storm Surge in the 2010s at the 2nd Annual National Tropical Weather Conference. From left: Dr. Richard Knabb (2012– ), Dr. Neil Frank (1973–1987); Mr. Max Mayfield (2000–2007); and Mr. Bill Read (2008–2012). Click for a larger photo.
Tropical Weather Conference Mixes Legends with Broadcasters on South Padre Island
Second Annual Event Features Preparedness, Predictions, and Powerful Stories

On April 10th and 11th, 2014 the Urban Science Initiative of San Antonio, Texas, held the Second Annual National Tropical Weather Conference at the Hilton Garden Inn Resort on South Padre Island. Once again, the Conference featured legendary names in Tropical and Broadcast Meteorology, including four National Hurricane Center (NHC) Directors (photo, above), Drs. William Gray and Phil Klotzbach from the Tropical Meteorology Project at Colorado State University, John Coleman, who was the Chief Meteorologist for ABC’ Good Morning America before resigning to begin The Weather Channel, along with Joseph D’Aleo, who also attended. Bryan Norcross, Hurricane Expert for The Weather Channel and the measured voice of calm during Hurricane Andrew in 1992 also presented. Others in attendance included:

Dr. Bill Gray receiving the First Robert and Joanne Simpson Award for Outstanding Contributions to  Tropical Meteorology
Dr. Bill Gray receives the First Dr. Robert and Joanne Simpson Award for "Outstanding Contributions to Tropical Meteorology" at a special luncheon in his honor on April 10, 2014 at the 2nd Annual National Tropical Weather Conference. Click for a larger photo.

Day One of the conference was highlighted by the April issuance of the 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook by the Tropical Meteorology ProjectThe initial forecast leaned heavily on the high confidence for an El Niño to develop during late spring/summer 2014 and likely impact the heart of the hurricane season. The group’s initial prognosis was for nine named storms, three hurricanes, and only one major (Category 3 wind or higher). No matter the forecast, we will always advise residents of the Rio Grande Valley to prepare as if Hurricane Andrew were to impact the region; in 1992, a year with only seven named storms! Remember, it only takes one storm to "make" a hurricane season. Other Day One highlights included Trenyce Lyons, project manager for FLASH, describing this season’s campaign to #bustamyth about wind and flood protection, and two incredible eyewitness accounts of Super Typhoon Haiyan at landfall near Tacloban City (Phillipines) by photographer/chaser extraordinaire Jim Edds and 2005’ catastrophic Hurricane Katrina by meteorologist/engineer Dr. Tim Marshall. Lunchtime keynote speaker John Coleman provided a humorous and rich look at his storied broadcast career.

NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Warning Coordiation Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith describes Hurricanes Beulah, Dolly and Alex at the National Tropical Weather Conference in 2014
NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley Warning Coordination Meteorologist Barry Goldsmith discusses Hurricane Dolly’s Impacts on the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Click for a larger photo.

Day Two began with a history of Texas Tropical Flooding, presented by Warning Coordination Meteorologist’s John Metz of NWS Corpus Christi and Barry Goldsmith of NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley, followed by a stellar example of corporate citizenship during storm recovery by Lucas McDonald of the Walmart Emergency Operations Center. Dr. Jason Dunion of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division described the Saharan Air Layer and its impact on hurricane suppression, then a groundbreaking discovery of how well developed hurricanes "exhale" each afternoon and evening. At lunch, Dr. Gray was "toasted" by several peers before receiving the Dr. Simpson(s) Award; the afternoon sessions focused on how to strike a personal chord with television, web, and social media viewers in talks by Tim Heller of KTRK-TV in Houston and Nate Johnson of WRAL-TV in Raleigh/Durham, NC. Randy Krum of InfoNewt described how to make "Cool Info Graphics". Finally, Skip Talbot and Jennifer Brindley finished the day with some of the most compelling video and stories from the tornado chases, including the May 31st El Reno, Oklahoma, massive tornado that took the lives of seasoned chasers Tim and son Paul Samaras.

The full agenda, and slides/videos (coming soon!) for the conference can be found here.

A Conference on the beach would not be complete without fun activities for participants and their families. Indoor meetings were bookended by a Welcome Reception, South Padre style, featuring Mariachis from McAllen. The day after the conference (Saturday) featured outdoor activities for all stripes, from boat and fishing tours to dolphin watching and water park fun. A farewell party Friday evening included a grand buffet, special awards, and a magic show all overlooking the moonlit Gulf of Mexico.

"The event organizers, in particular Alex Garcia and Tim Smith (KRGV–TV Channel 5), once again did a superb job to feature so many compelling presentations, and enhance the entire experience with relaxed evening activities that provided a great networking opportunity beyond tropical weather discussions" said Goldsmith. "NWS Brownsville/Rio Grande Valley was privileged to be a part of this second conference at the Rio Grande Valley’s beautiful resort beach, and we look forward to participating in future conferences and helping make them bigger and better!" With attendance up by more than 25 percent in 2014, the National Tropical Weather Conference will continue to grow.

Group photo of primarily television and print broadcast meteorologists and other attendees at the 2014 Second National Tropical Weather Conference

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