Partnership Highlight: National Weather Service
Sea Grant enhances the mission of the National Weather Service by informing communication and educating the public on weather hazards.
Improve Storm Warning Communication
Despite warnings of storm surge, many of the 117 deaths during Hurricane Sandy in 2012 were drownings. This loss of life and devastation to Northeast coastal communities prompted actions to figure out how to help coastal communities better prepare for the next big storm. After the storm, Sea Grant funded 10 research projects to examine how coastal residents in Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey received their storm warnings and what they did after the storm.
National Weather Service (NWS) meteorologists served on the advisory board of the research projects, which were coordinated as one effort by Sea Grant to maximize adoption of results. Researchers found that people evacuated in the face of strong storms based on their own experiences with past storms. Also, coastal residents are much more likely to evacuate if local authorities give the orders and if they are mandatory. Sea Grant extension specialists are now working with local officials and NWS to use this research to improve storm warnings and preparedness. Read a summary of the research.
Sea Grant and NWS are working together to understand and improve storm-related communication.
Connect Stakeholders to National Water Center
Sea Grant, NOAA Research, and NWS are collaborating to place an Integrated Water Extension Specialist at the National Water Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The purpose of establishing the position is to support the external engagement strategy of the National Water Center, specifically by building linkages to the Sea Grant network and creating partnerships with the NOAA regional coordinators to extend NWC products, services, and information across NOAA.
As part of a growing collaboration between Sea Grant and other NOAA programs and line offices, Sea Grant has placed 12 extension specialists in liaison positions to 1) gain wider access to NOAA expertise and products, 2) better serve NOAA constituents with additional scientific and technological information, and 3) improve NOAA’s contact with its user community. These positions are supported by a variety of sources including NOAA Sea Grant, the NOAA lab, center, or program, and other involved line offices. By developing closer communication and cooperation with NOAA labs, centers, and programs, Sea Grant has access to scientific products, services, and expertise available across all of NOAA. With this access Sea Grant extension specialists better serve NOAA stakeholders and also guide the process and use of NOAA’s products and services to strengthen societal decision making.
Nineteen Sea Grant programs are Weather Ready Nation Ambassadors. The Sea Grant network understands the value in sharing consistent and understandable weather warnings and forecasts. Sea Grant’s outreach and engagement staff use their trusted reputation in the local communities they serve to extend NWS’ messages. It also allows the potentially life-saving information to reach a broader and more diverse suite of stakeholder groups. Additionally, a key focus of Sea Grant’s resilient communities and economies work is to help build a weather ready nation. Sea Grant programs provide local resources to several components of the Weather Ready Nation program, including improving Tsunami Preparedness in Oregon and engaging Emergency Managers in developing communication plans in the Northeast.
Sea Grant and NWS’ work on rip current research and outreach is extensive. In 2003, Sea Grant was instrumental in launching the national Rip Current education program North Carolina Sea Grant hosted the program’s first press event, Michigan Sea Grant printed the first “Break the Grip of the Rip!” brochures, and Delaware Sea Grant has served on the Rip Current Team for the life of the program. In 2014 NWS, NOS, and Sea Grant issued a report on Great Lakes Beach Hazards. The partnership effort was aimed at developing a risk communication strategy focused on dangerous waves and currents in the Great Lakes and the loss of life the hazards can cause. The report offered recommendations on hazard communication and outreach. The findings have been integrated into ongoing efforts by all partners involved.
Connect Partners for a Resilient Coast
Beginning in 2012, Virginia Sea Grant assembled a local community-university team of 77 partners including NWS to increase understanding and collaboration related to climate change adaption capacity in the Hampton Roads area. The effort is structured around a series of forums that bring professionals together for training, information sharing, and bringing positive impacts to the local communities. This successful partnership effort has resulted in numerous positive outcomes for the Hampton Roads community, including innovative design projects to address sea level rise challenges, leveraging funds for the Hampton Roads area of over $120 million, and creating an informed network of local professionals and decision makers.