Weather-Ready Nation Workshop This Week

NOAA is inviting 150 leaders to the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla., for three days of discussions to set in motion actions to make the United States more resilient against tornadoes and other severe weather.

You aren't mistaken if you believe 2011 has been a year of extreme weather in the United States. Dr. Jack Hayes, assistant NOAA administrator for weather services and director of the National Weather Service, said this year is the first since NOAA began keeping records when a dozen separate weather events caused more than $1 billion in damage apiece. These included flooding, snowstorms, tornadoes, and wildfires. More than 1,000 weather-related deaths have been recorded this year, Hayes wrote in a blog item devoted to a new NOAA initiative to build a Weather-Ready Nation.

The agency is inviting 150 leaders from government, emergency management, media, the weather industry, and the scientific community to the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla., for a Dec. 13-15 invitation-only workshop to put the initiative into motion.

"NOAA has many upgrades underway as part of the initiative such as the nationwide implementation of Dual Pol radar technology, the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program, and the Joint Polar Satellite System," Hayes wrote in his Dec. 7 post. "In addition to improving the precision of forecasts and warnings, NOAA is exploring new ways to communicate the threat of weather to decision makers and the public more effectively by using social science research. The Federal government cannot build a Weather-Ready Nation alone, which is why NOAA is leveraging a diverse network of partners critical to emergency response to participate in a national dialogue.... We can make 2012 a less destructive and deadly year by working collectively to become a Weather-Ready Nation."

On the workshop's agenda are discussions of this year's most destructive tornadoes, a panel discussion about improving NOAA's forecasts and warnings for severe weather, presentations about the economic costs of disasters, and keynote addresses by three well-known Oklahoma officials: Gov. Mary Fallin, U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, whose district includes Norman, and David Boren, president of the University of Oklahoma.

Events to follow the workshop include the American Meteorological Society's 92nd Annual Meeting (Jan. 22-26, 2012, in New Orleans) and the National Severe Weather Workshop (March 1-3, 2012).

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