Hurricane Ike storm surge: Sept. 2008 (Photo: NOAA)
(June 2, 2011) - When a severe tropical storm or hurricane threatens our coastal communities, it is the storm surge that represents the greatest danger to life and property.
With that in mind, representatives from National Weather Service forecast offices along the Gulf of Mexico and the new Disaster Response Center co-sponsored a three-day Storm Surge Workshop beginning May 24 in Mobile, Ala.
The workshop was designed to gather and coordinate storm surge input from a wide range of line offices to support the work of NOAA's Storm Surge Roadmap Team. Along with the National Weather Service National Hurricane Center, the team has been working to improve storm surge preparedness and response capabilities.
The primary focus of the workshop centered on understanding current models and storm surge products, coordination between user groups, improving application of future products and services; and improving service to local leaders, emergency managers and the general public during storm events.
Attendee Tom Bradshaw, chief of the National Weather Service Southern Region Meteorological Services Branch, says, "The ultimate goal is to help our coastal communities reduce the potential for loss of life and increase their ability to protect property.
While there is nothing we can do to prevent hazardous weather events, we can certainly apply the latest scientific advances and preparedness information to lessen their impacts."
Key facilitators for the workshop were Meteorologist Jennifer McNatt, from the National Weather Service forecast office in Tampa, and Captain Michele Finn of NOAA's National Ocean Service.
Additional workshop participation included representatives from the River Forecast Centers, Coastal Services Center, Office of Coast Survey, Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, the Meteorological Development Lab, Coastal Storms Program and the National Sea Grant Office.
External partners included FEMA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, emergency managers, the media, first responders and social research specialists. Since the Disaster Response Center is still under construction, the workshop was held at the nearby Greater Gulf State Fairgrounds.