As Hurricane Irene heads toward a possible U. S. land fall, it’s a reminder of why the National Weather Service has launched a new effort to build a “weather-ready” nation.
The country has already seen nine separate weather-related disasters this year with an economic loss of one billion dollars or more, from floods to tornadoes.
Chris Strager, director of the National Weather Service Eastern Region, says building a more weather-ready nation is going to involve a partnership with other government agencies, researchers and the private sector. He says the country has become more vulnerable to weather extremes with population growth and density in high risk areas, and action needs to be taken to improve readiness.
Strager says they want to look at how their messages are received, how they’re acted upon and what they can ask people to do to be safe from these events. He says when they conduct post storm surveys; they’ll ask why people did not go to shelter. He says they’re told people heard the warnings, but they’ve heard them before and nothing happened to them those times. Strager says the weather service needs to know how to fix that, to get people to understand what the threat is and to take preparations.
He says people should be preparing for hurricanes and other disasters by having a plan before the storms hit. He says families need to know where they can go if their home will not provide sufficient shelter. He says families need a checklist to prepare for disasters.
Strager says they’re developing a roadmap to the future for the weather service. He says these are concepts that are going to take a good deal of planning to get out of the gate, so they’re planning test projects.
To learn more about the project or to get the latest on Hurricane Irene, go to weather.gov