NOAA launches Weather-Ready Nation emergency response project in Louisiana

Mobile weather capability to be tested as part of emergency operations in the region

January 21, 2012

Weather-Ready Nation emergency response vehicle unveiled at the National Weather Service's New Orleans/Baton Rouge office.

Weather-Ready Nation emergency response vehicle unveiled at the National Weather Service's New Orleans/Baton Rouge office. 

High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The National Weather Service’s New Orleans/Baton Rouge office today increased its rapid response ability with the launch of a  new 24/7 emergency response desk and team of meteorologists and hydrologists who will provide forecasts, warnings, and timely decision support services during high-impact weather and other disasters. A critical part of NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation initiative, these emergency mobile weather and water forecasters are trained to work alongside emergency managers to enhance preparedness efforts in the central Gulf coast region.

“This team adds tremendous value to the weather forecasting services we already provide in Louisiana,” said Kathryn Sullivan, Ph.D., deputy administrator, NOAA. “Their ability to produce timely, accurate forecasts will provide better information for better decisions, allowing officials to pre-position people and resources more effectively to mitigate the impacts of floods and other disasters.”

These weather and water forecasters will serve as part of future incident command centers in the region and are skilled at handling a wide range of hazards. Rapid deployment of these forecasters is made possible by their emergency response vehicle – a 38-foot trailer equipped with a high-speed communications link and a full weather forecasting suite. 

The forecast office’s new emergency response desk is the first of its kind and one of a series of community-based Weather-Ready Nation pilot projects under development to help the nation better prepare for extreme weather. Other projects will be launched later this year in the South and mid-Atlantic.

The New Orleans/Baton Rouge forecast office, located in Slidell, La., serves 2.9 million people in 22 parishes in Louisiana and eight Mississippi counties.

“Weather-related damages have impacted our area to the tune of $150 billion in 25 years. We hope this pilot project will help the community reach the highest level of preparedness and demonstrate resilience to high-impact weather,” said Ken Graham, meteorologist-in-charge, New Orleans/Baton Rouge forecast office.

“In the wake of one of the most destructive weather years on record, this pilot project is an important step to increase weather-readiness in 2012 and in the future,” said Jack Hayes, Ph.D., National Weather Service Director.

Pilot projects like the one in New Orleans are an important aspect of NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation initiative. In addition to changes made within the weather service, NOAA is also leveraging a diverse network of partners critical to emergency response to participate in a national dialogue. The dialogue began in earnest last month at a national symposium in Norman, Okla. Recommendations from the symposium will be the topic of a Weather - Ready Nation Town Hall Meeting on Jan. 23 during the American Meteorological Society annual meeting in New Orleans. 

The National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. It operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to save lives and livelihoods and enhance the national economy. Working with partners, NOAA’s National Weather Service is building a Weather-Ready Nation to support community readiness, responsiveness and resiliency in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather. Visit us online at weather.gov and join us on Facebook, Twitter and our other social media channels.

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