Calling ALL EM Weather Weenies! The National Weather Association is a Place for YOU!
Last week was the 2022 National Weather Association annual meeting that is typically held toward the end of summer every year. The theme was titled “Convergence,” with a goal of converging or bringing together operational meteorologists, broadcast meteorologists, and researchers from both atmospheric science and social sciences. The theme also matched with a new informal goal of mine: bringing more emergency managers to participate in NWA and NWA events!
The National Weather Association has a goal to connect operational meteorologists in pursuit of excellence in weather forecasting, communication, and service. The NWA vision is to promote excellence in operational meteorology to benefit society. Years ago, the focus of the meteorological profession was to use the science of weather to create forecasts and issue warnings. The story ended there. However, recent disasters such as the Joplin tornado, Tuscaloosa Tornado, and Hurricane Katrina has brought to light the importance of forecast communication and a look at community impact to better assist decision makers. These decision makers include governments and public safety (like us in emergency management!) as well as members of the public who are making weather-related decisions for their safety. This recent paradigm shift in meteorology has created big changes in how the National Weather Service operates and additional interest in the meteorological research community to study communications, emergency management, and societal impacts of storms. Now is a great time for emergency managers to plug into weather-related associations to build relationships and work together to solve the challenge of reducing storm related fatalities and property damage in the future!
At the meeting last week in Pittsburgh, many topics of emergency management interest were covered:
- NWS Storm Survey Results and Tactics
- Weather Briefing Needs for PIOs
- NWS EM Support Service Products: Hotspot Detection Texts
- Importance of Broadcast Meteorology Relationships
- Changes in Future Storm Watches and Warnings
- Use of Flood Outlook Products for State Budget Planning
- Flood Ready TN Coalition
- Recognition of Virtual Operations Support Teams (VOST)
- Flood Modeling Updates and Projects
- Heat Products and Services
- Review of Hurricane Agnes Response and Impact
- University Impact on Tornado Response
We also had a number of emergency management professionals present this year. It is a great platform to share more about how emergency management works and reveal how meteorologists may be able to help our efforts.
If I haven’t convinced you yet, here is the spill. Weather is highly impactful to emergency managers. Not only are a majority of our responses weather-related, but weather affects even non-related responses such as hazmat, fire, and terrain rescue. There is a HUGE value in strengthening partnerships with our weather friends and providing information to them about our challenges and how we do the job. We can also provide information about where we wish we could have better weather data or forecasts, which could be used as a future research idea and improvement in the future!
NWA is the perfect place to plug into an organization passionate about making changes to reduce weather-related fatalities. The energy of the group that attends this conference is contagious! It is unlike any energy I have felt at any other conference. These folks want to brainstorm, listen, learn, and do big things! Attendees also love to teach others and are welcoming. Looking for a place to learn more about weather and go from a novice to a weenie? This is the place! You don’t have to be a scientist or a weather expert to attend, connect, and get big things out of this association and conference.
Where Weather Meets Impacts
As discussed above, this association sits at the nexus of weather and societal impacts. Topics of focus include crisis communication, emergency alert systems, and human behavior during storms. NWS meteorologists also provide insight, updates, and challenges about providing special event and incident support to emergency managers. Lastly, many webinars and conference presentations are case studies of previous storms and incidents that often come with the helpful insight of lessons learned and after action points.
I can’t echo the importance of building strong partnerships with subject matter experts in meteorology. I have already written a couple of blogs about how to reach out to your local National Weather Service (NWS) office and kickstart the relationship building processes. Shaking hands before the weather disaster is just as helpful as building relationships with other partners. You are able to express jurisdictional weather needs for briefings and also have a trust for when you need them the most. NWA is a platform to connect with regional and national offices, as well as select broadcast meteorologists in your media network.
Present and Attend
Many of us need to present or attend conferences for certification requirements, and I have used the NWA Annual Meeting as credit for both state level certifications as well as the IAEM CEM! Use the opportunity to present and share emergency management information with a group of professionals who are excited to hear about it! Put in an abstract and give it a try! PS: NWA is one of the only associations who give a discount rate to emergency managers for the meeting. How amazing is that!
Get An Edge
The more knowledgeable and comfortable you are with weather information as an emergency manager, the more confident your decision-making will be when you need to pull the trigger during an incident! We are all very familiar with how complicated decision-making can be, with each decision often involving a mix of politics, financial impacts, and life-safety. Joining NWA, learning more about weather, and building relationships gives you an edge!
There is so much growth and opportunity ahead for NWA regarding emergency management participation. Many of us already in the association have been scheming for a while about how we can add additional activities for emergency managers, such as a special interest group, networking events, Integrated Warning Team (IWT) activities, and discussion groups. Who knows? Perhaps we could create an emergency management track at an annual meeting specific to emergency management needs and related presentations. Perhaps we could bring in more panels and local emergency management professionals to shed light on weather-related response. We may be able to provide brainstorming events where we all converge in a room and work to solve some of the largest weather-related challenges our two fields face today. The SKY is the limit!
Emergency Management Weather Weenies UNITE!