Washington, D.C. selected as city for pilot projects

You’ve heard the saying a million times: “everybody loves talking about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” The National Weather Service announced today, however, that it’s serious about preparing our nation for extreme weather. Its new “Weather-ready” nation initiative promises to “ make America safer ... as communities across the country become increasingly vulnerable to severe weather events” ranging from tornado outbreaks to solar storms. The initiative was announced as a partnership between NWS, other government agencies, researchers and the private sector.

Through July, 2011 has already matched 2008’s record for most billion dollar weather disasters in the United States. The NWS further stated in its press release: “According to Munich Reinsurance America, one of the top providers of property and casualty reinsurance in the U.S., the number of natural disasters has tripled in the last 20 years and 2010 was a record breaker with about 250.”

Not to mention in 2011:

* July set a record (for the month) for the area of the country impacted by extreme weather
* In spring, precipitation was the most extreme on record
* Tornado fatalities stand at 540, the 4th most on record.

Population growth and increasing infrastructure density in vulnerable areas is the leading reason for the uptick in extreme weather damage although some say climate change is also playing a role.

NWS says the Weather-ready initiative will make our nation safer through:

* Improved precision of weather and water forecasts and effective communication of risk to local authorities;
* Improved weather decision support services with new initiatives such as the development of mobile-ready emergency response specialist teams;
* Innovative science and technological solutions such as the nationwide implementation of Dual Pol radar technology, Integrated Water Resources Science and Services, and the Joint Polar Satellite System;
* Strengthening joint partnerships to enhance community preparedness;
* Working with weather enterprise partners and the emergency management community to enhance safety and economic output and effectively manage environmental resources.

NWS is planning pilot projects across the country ranging in focus from emergency response to ecological forecasting.

McLean Patch reports the Washington, D.C. metro region will be a pilot city:

Weather service meteorologists will be deployed to D.C. and other localities, such as New Orleans and Fort Worth, Texas, to begin training local emergency management officials and the public at large.

Two specific projects will be undertaken in the region starting within 30 days:

*At the NWS National Operations Center, National Weather Service Headquarters in Silver Spring, Md., an emergency response project will test improved decision support services with newly designated emergency response specialist

*At the local NWS office in Sterling, Va.,there will be an urban environment decision making project also involving emergency response specialists