A Weather-Ready Nation: A Vital Conversation

Joplin, Missouri. Photo by Patty Ingalls

This summer NOAA’s National Weather Service called for a National Conversation on Building a Weather-Ready Nation. The conversation continued in earnest in December, 2011 in Norman, Okla., with a national summit “Weather-Ready Nation: A Vital Conversation.” National experts from across the country met on the University of Oklahoma campus Dec. 13-15 to help America better prepare for and survive extreme weather. Their recommendations will be released in early 2012 in time for severe weather season.

“Becoming a Weather-Ready Nation is a shared responsibility from the federal government to the individual citizen and everyone in between,” said Jack Hayes, director of the National Weather Service. “NOAA’s National Weather Service is committed to delivering the highest quality of forecast and warning services and fostering innovation. Building a Weather-Ready Nation will take the commitment of everyone we’re engaging with through these national conversations.”

The national summit in Norman, organized by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, is the first in a series of Weather-Ready Nation conversations NOAA will participate in across the country in the coming year to learn from the experience and insights of important weather partners – broadcast meteorologists, emergency managers, academics, private weather forecasters, communication experts, and decision-makers. Participants will assess why the nation is becoming more vulnerable to severe weather and identify ways to improve the public’s awareness, preparedness and response to future extreme events.

The NOAA’s National Weather Service launched the Weather-Ready Nation initiative in August, following a volatile spring of several large-scale tornado outbreaks. Despite exceptional warnings from NWS, which issued warnings with double the average lead time in many instances, the tornadoes left hundreds dead and thousands injured. And this spring may not have been just a fluke event. All indications point to a rise in our vulnerability to these types of extreme weather events. This year broke the record for highest number of extreme weather events in a given year, with twelve separate events each causing a billion dollars or more in damages.

“Avoidable death and damage due to extreme weather is too high. This week is an important part of our national conversation to better understand how and why people make the decisions they do, and what more needs to be done to save lives and livelihoods,” Hayes said.

The National Conversation to Build a Weather-Ready Nation will continue throughout 2012 with a number of symposia, events, town halls, workshops, and speeches. Click here for more information. To join the conversation, check out the NWS Facebook page.  Or find out more on the Weather-Ready Nation web page at http://www.weather.gov/com/weatherreadynation